We went into a diversified automotive supplier plant with a paint facility. The company has operations worldwide and is mainly involved in supplying auto parts. Not all of their plants have paint facilities, but this one specializes in plastic components that are supplied complete and ready to install on a production line. It is extremely critical for them to maintain the color and quality of the component within a very tight range. The integrity must be high enough that the vehicle coming out of final production can go straight to market with a fit and finish ready to sell. They supply products to at least six different manufacturers, so their quality criterion is extremely stringent.
We had success with this plant in the past, but it was mostly related to our other product lines. They had used the odd Parker item, but it was mostly quick connects or brass items rather than actual instrumentation products.
On this visit, we were allowed a plant tour that included the paint area. We were very acquainted with the concept that this was a competitor facility and were shown numerous applications where competitive products had been successfully installed. When we reached the paint booths, our tour leader stopped and offered me an apology. I had asked earlier whether they had any Parker fittings installed within the paint area and had been told no. It turns out that they did have some Parker products installed, CPI™ single ferrule fittings to be exact, on the robot arms in the paint booths. These had originally been supplied with competitor fittings but their fittings had cut through the tubing and failed.
If you have ever seen a robotic paint booth, you will know the robot arms are almost constantly in motion. They move quickly, but smoothly, in and around the passing parts to apply a very even and consistent paint coating. If one of the paint lines started to leak and dripped on the components, the rework and agitation would be tremendous. It would be bad enough if a blue dripped onto a white, but what if a blue dripped onto a blue and they did not catch it until the vehicle rolled off the final assembly line. The back charges and problems would add up fast.
In this case, the fitting nuts kept coming loose. After repeatedly being tightened, the competitor’s fittings eventually cut through the tubing and it all had to be replaced. During the change out, the maintenance department opted to try a Parker single ferrule fitting instead. Not only did they find that the Parker fittings stayed tight, but they have never had one leak and all of their maintenance problems have gone away.
Now this is a nice story, and I enjoy telling it, but it always brings up one question. If the Parker fittings can outperform the competition on the tough applications, why wouldn’t you use them on all of your applications?
Thank you to Carl Nickason of Viking Instrument & Control, Ltd. for submitting this story.