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Web Coater for Rolled Steel Used in Food Containers Implemented in Time to Meet EU Regulation Deadline

“There are a lot of good engineers out there, but many of them are desk engineers. InMechaSol's ability to implement on-site, combined with his willingness to be in France working long hours, was key to the success of this project.”

Summary

As partners with an engineering firm and printing OEM in California, InMechaSol helped a major international steel producer comply with regulations on the use of chromate in food containers. InMechaSol drove the motion control component of a web coater, which much like traditional printing technology applies an approved, food-safe coating to rolled steel in a consistent and effective manner.
 

The Situation



 




 
 
A major international steel producer with facilities in France was in a race to comply with a deadline from the  European Union’s REACH regulations on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical Substances—namely the use of chromate and its derivatives in food containers.

The company had been researching anti-corrosion alternatives for their rolled steel products and was requesting bids for technology to apply this coating. If no application method could be found the company wouldn’t be able to sell their products on the open market.
 

The Partnership Solution


The RFP that was sent out received bids from around the world and was ultimately awarded to a printing company in California who felt their paper printing technology could be adapted to apply coatings to steel. While they had expertise in mechanical controls, the electrical and motion control expertise necessary to apply their technology to steel substrates required external support. The printing company contracted with Volo Technologies in Roseville, California, to support that portion of the project.

The engineers at Volo Technologies have a strong electrical skill set, but required a motion control expert for this project. “We selected the Siemens platform for motion control and reached out directly to Siemens to find an expert to add to our team” said Volo Technologies Co-founder and Director of Engineering, Ben Jones. That was how Jones met InMechaSol founder and mechatronics engineer, Gary Eades.
 
“Gary is probably one of the premier motion experts—particularly on that platform,” said Jones. “His knowledge of the Siemens platform and his ability to apply it in multiple applications is excellent. He understood what we were trying to do and had the background to satisfy our needs. He was a perfect fit.”
 

The Result

 
InMechaSol joined the web coater project in January 2012, working both remotely and on-site at the OEM’s facility in California. The machine was shipped to the end-user’s facility in France that summer and installation began in November. The motion control component of the system was third in line in the process. “We were able to complete installation on our portion of the system and assist with on-site commissioning,” said Jones. “We proved the system could apply the coating in a consistent and effective manner, and we gained QC personnel approval before we even left the site—which is very rare.”
 
The leaders at Volo Technologies understand what it takes to be successful in the field. “There are a lot of good engineers out there, but many of them are desk engineers,” said Jones. “Our work is 50-60% field based, so if you can’t make it happen on-site, you don’t have a role with our team. Gary’s ability to implement on-site, combined with his willingness to be in France working long hours, was key to the success of this project.”

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