Sometimes to make finishing faster, it’s not about the actual finishing, but it has everything to do with how you handle the parts you’re working on. That’s some of the thinking behind a new spray finishing system developed by Nathan Guffey. He figured a way to facilitate vertical spraying and eliminate handling of wet parts and make it possible to spray all sides of common cabinet parts without having to wait for one side to dry.
Guffey developed the system initially for use in his own cabinet shop. He worked with APTUS DesignWorks, an engineering and design firm, to create a system to be modular and marketable for any shop.
While many cabinet shops spray doors and panels flat, the Guffey system takes those parts and hangs them vertically. Of course, many shops have tried vertical spraying because it allows spraying all sides at once. What makes the Guffey System different is the specialized accessories and even mobile equipment for efficient handling.
First, hangers are designed to attach to parts only in places that will not be seen when the part is installed. Developed over three years of testing, the hangers are designed to be used as handles to hold, move, or steady parts during the finishing process. Those same hangers work with pivoting cars that slide in rails for movement. There are stationary rails that can be built in whatever configuration you need for your spray booth and sanding areas, including turning corners. Mobile rails can hold a selection of parts and roll to different locations, such as transport between sanding and spraying areas.
Guffey says there are dramatic efficiency gains to be had from the system, making finishing operations up to 2.5 times faster. But can a material handling system that isn’t changing the kind of spray finish application really be that much faster, and what is involved in changing over to the system? We talked to shops that have adopted the system to get some answers.
Chad Hamilton at Pig House Cabinets in Ringgold, Georgia, is an enthusiastic early adopter of the system. His shop has 15 employees in 10,000 square feet. Originally, they were doing a lot of commercial work, but they switched to emphasize residential work with the pandemic. Hamilton says, before the Guffey System, his shop was mainly spraying flat. He described the process they previously used as mostly flat finishing in which two operators would use parts racks, spraying 60 to 120 parts a day. But then they would have to turn everything over to do the reverse side the next day.
“Now both sides are down and out in a 6-hour day,” Hamilton said. “There’s a whole lot less wasted movement. Everything is in a comfort zone right in front of you.” He added that there is less rework because the system keeps parts from bumping into each other and minimizes handling.
Not just cabinet parts
Hastings Read of Oakleigh Customs in Mobile, Alabama, had similar praise for the system, even though he is not finishing cabinet parts. His company is six employees working in 6,000 square feet to make historic windows and doors, small quantities of historic mouldings, and shutters. They also make European-style windows and doors. He had seen overhead finishing systems in Europe, but he said he could never figure out how to make it work in his 20 x 20-foot spray booth until he got the Guffey System.
“Handling these things flat you are tearing up dollar bills,” Read said. “First time we used the Guffey System, what would have taken an hour took 15 minutes.” Read also had high praise for the ease of installing the system. He noted the clear CAD layout drawings, special tabs to help line things up, and even the packing of the system parts. He said it took two people four and a half hours to install the system in his shop. Of the Guffey System developers, he said, “These are people who took extraordinary time in developing this. You can tell when someone is thinking something through. It doesn’t feel like a gen-one product.”
Faster than automation
Both Read and Hamilton made comparisons of the gains from the Guffey System to automation elsewhere in their shops.
“We did research into a flat line system,” he said. “It would take up a big chunk of room and a big chunk of money.” He felt he would need additional equipment such as a dryer to make the linework for his application, and he was concerned about the time required for finish changeovers. “It’s not uncommon to spray five colors in one job,” he said. “And it’s still only one side at a time.”
“Previously, finishing was a choke point,” Hamilton said. “Now, getting stuff into my finish room is the choke point.” Read says the system is an opportunity for small to medium-size operations to compete with larger manufacturers. “At the end of the day, a wood product is its finish,” he said. “The smaller side of the industry is going to have to lift their game in finishing.”
For more information about Guffey Systems, visit www.guffeysystems.com.