Infrared Curing Increasing the Quality of Products

By Kristi Brodd | June 26, 2015

heater

Louisiana-Pacific (LP) needed new curing processes or solutions that would help meet the rising demand for a profitable product while maintaining quality and decreasing production costs. The curing stage was a bottleneck for production. Gas IR ovens had been used for 30 years. How could they double output of a product with limited space to work? Solution: Duke Energy’s and Advanced Energy’s process heating expertise. LP’s production time was cut in half. Higher profits were obtained and product quality remained the same. Production costs were reduced. The combined expertise of Duke Energy and Advanced Energy created a win-win situation for this customer.

The overall results of the study found that LP projects $500,000 in annual savings a year in payback.

“Installing an electric infrared oven is proving to be a wise investment. We are seeing the results promised and are meeting our production goals to produce high-quality products.” Gary Wilson – Louisiana-Pacific

The main problem LP was facing was completely curing a coating resulted in an increase backlog. Previously, LP had “air cured” a coating on this high profit margin product. The formula of the coating was changed to allow for quicker drying time, but completely curing the coating still required air drying for seven days. As the product came o‑ the process line, it was stacked and left to dry. This resulted in an ever-increasing daily backlog. LP needed to double the output of this product, while maintaining quality and decreasing production costs.

LP had limited space to work with. Duke Energy and Advanced Energy’s industrial process specialists had been working with LP on electric IR heating options for other applications within their process. Existing curing ovens were gas IR heating and were very inefficient and high maintenance. LP asked for additional assistance in evaluating electric IR heating for this process to reduce bottlenecks, maintain quality and lower production costs.

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When the backlog for one of its high profit margin products was increasing on a daily basis, LP quickly identified the curing stage as being a bottleneck in the production process. LP needed new processes or solutions that would help it meet the demand for this profitable product. IR heating’s smaller footprint can be utilized where space is limited.

After surveying the process, Duke Energy and Advanced Energy’s industrial process specialists:

  • Evaluated LP’s existing gas curing ovens
  • Identified electric IR as an acceptable solution based on specialized factors (e.g., smaller footprint and curing time)
  • Recommended the installation of an electric IR oven

The results were lower capital costs and a more energy efficient process than convection ovens.

“The electric IR oven has successfully changed our way of thinking. After 30 years of using gas IR ovens, we are beginning to realize many benefits from this electric technology, such as increased production and lower maintenance costs and this is after only five months of running the oven!” Bruce Christian – Louisiana-Pacific

Duke Energy and Advanced Energy’s recommendations provided the expected benefits for LP.

  • Production time was cut in half.
  • Higher profits were obtained due to meeting demand.
  • Product quality remained the same.
  • Costs to produce the product were reduced.