Stahl- und Apparatebau Huppertz AG in Saint Vith, Belgium, has now commissioned a new paint shop. "With this investment, we have paved the way for the next generation and sent a strong signal to customers and staff. Our company has a future and is ready for the challenges ahead," says 53-year-old managing director Karl-Heinz Huppertz. The metal construction company employs 35 people in the areas of design, production, surface finishing and final assembly. They manufacture single pieces, large or series parts made of steel, stainless steel and aluminum. In addition, the company manufactures assemblies including hydraulic, pneumatic or electrical installations - with or without machining.
Succession elegantly regulated
The company has grown steadily - not only as a supplier to the steel, automotive and chemical industries but also with its own laser technology and a very good workload as a contract coater. "The market is there, our designs and coatings are in demand, especially abroad, as our export quota is 70%. However, we were increasingly reaching our capacity limits," reports Karl-Heinz Huppertz. One of the reasons for the investment in new, significantly larger painting technology was the decision of daughter Mireille to continue the business, founded in 1959, in the third generation.
New concept with new dimensions
Based on the positive experience with the first coating system and the technical support, Huppertz asked the Wimsheim-based system manufacturer Meeh again after 20 years. The companies quickly developed a new coating concept together: "Huppertz brought extensive experience with him from the old plant, but also as a steel constructor, and knew exactly what he wanted," says Meeh sales engineer Dietmar Damm. And so the Huppertz team was able to carry out many things themselves. For example, the Belgians opted for larger spans between the supports and on separate cabins for the pretreatment of the steel and aluminum components. "As a result, many machine builders in the surrounding area are happy to outsource the painting to us, and so the proportion of contract coating is now 80%," reports Huppertz.
Completion in record time
The new hall, including the painting technology, was erected in just seven months. Meeh assigned a lead fitter to carry out the installation together with the Huppertz fitters so that they could get to know the plant from the ground up. The time frame was tight. "The new plant is virtually the luxury version of the previous technology," says Karl-Heinz Huppertz. While this was housed in an area of 1500 m², the area has now tripled. To accommodate the large components, the crossheads are 14 m long instead of 10 m; the maximum dimensions of the components are 14 m in length, 2.8 m in width and 3.1 m in height. "In the pretreatment booths, automated wash rims travel longitudinally over the components so that they are completely rinsed and finally provided with a chrome-free passivation," explains Damm. Through a standard-compliant pretreatment, the surfaces at Huppertz achieve the corrosion protection category up to C5 on request.
Plant compensates for shortage of skilled workers
Meanwhile, the powder automatic coating system, a continuous system with a height of 3 m, has its own cross-travel platform. Gema's integrated powder booth is equipped with two 3D scanners and 16 powder guns, and is designed for mass. "It saves us 1 full-time labor force. That's necessary because personnel are hard to find, even here in eastern Belgium," Huppertz says. The automatic plastic booth is designed with a powder change center and cyclone centrifugal separator, and can be operated at different speeds depending on the component
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