How To Select A Powder Coating Equipment Supplier

Whether you’re starting a new powder coating shop, adding to your existing coating capabilities, or bringing coating in-house, determining which company to buy powder coating equipment from is a crucial step in establishing or expanding your powder coating operation. The efficiency and durability of the equipment, as well as the support you receive from the supplier, can significantly impact the success of your business. Here are ten key factors to consider when making your decision:

  1. Research Suppliers

Start by researching various suppliers and manufacturers of powder coating equipment. Look for companies with a good reputation in the industry and a history of producing reliable equipment. Some manufacturers offer their products factory-direct, enabling you to establish a relationship with the company that will actually build your equipment. Others use distributor networks, so you’ll be interacting with a local or regional representative, but not directly with the manufacturer. As a general rule, most companies focus on only a part of the finishing industry. Find a supplier that concentrates on the type of system you need. It doesn’t make sense to buy powder coating equipment from a business that focuses its resources on wet paint equipment or coating supplies. If the company is a good fit for your needs, it should offer a range of equipment options and sizes that can be tailored to your application. Avoid companies with limited offerings or a “one size fits all” approach. Having a variety of choices can help you find powder coating equipment that matches your budget, fits your shop space, and meets your process requirements. Depending on your situation, you may require customized equipment. Check if the supplier offers customization options to tailor the equipment to your specific needs.

  1. Size & Quality of Equipment

Consider factors like the size of your parts and your production throughput requirements to help determine what size coating booth and oven you will require. Don’t forget to consider how you will prepare the parts for coating by blasting or chemical pretreatment. Make sure the provider you choose offers equipment large enough to suit your needs. Other than size, there are two primary differences that drive the cost of most powder coating appliances: construction materials/design and features. As an example, an oven with 6” thick walls will provide better insulation than one with 4” thick walls, saving money in the long-term, but may cost more to purchase. Along the same lines, a control panel with a color touch-screen will cost more than one with simple push buttons. You need to not only assess the quality of the equipment, but also understand which features will offer real benefits for your business. If you’re not performing in-depth data logging, for instance, a color touch screen may have no real benefit for your business. Look for meaningful features that will best meet your specific needs and avoid hobbyist equipment, which is often less expensive but doesn’t have the robust construction needed for professional operations. Another pitfall to avoid is used equipment, which is often much less expensive to purchase, but can have substantial unforeseen costs before it is fully functional. 

  1. Installation & Calibration

Many top tier curing oven and powder booth suppliers offer installation of their equipment as part of the purchase. Other well-respected companies let the customer choose between purchasing professional installation or performing installation tasks on their own or through local contractors. As a general rule, most hobbyist and low-end suppliers don’t offer installation services or depend on third-party contractors rather than having their own technicians on staff. Once the equipment is installed, particularly your drying or powder curing ovens, you should have the oven started up and calibrated by a professional. As with installation, reputable companies will offer to provide start-up and calibration services for their equipment. This assures that the equipment is running safely and efficiently, plus it can help your powder supplier more quickly determine the operating temperature and dwell time needed for your parts to get the best quality finish because you won’t have to spend time tweaking your new oven’s controls or dealing with safety or performance issues.

  1. References & Reviews

Seek references from other customers who have purchased equipment from the company you have selected. An established, reputable supplier should have several customers who are willing to talk directly with you about their experiences with equipment that is similar to what you are considering purchasing. Be wary of suppliers who can’t provide a substantial reference list or seem reluctant to let you interact with purchasers who have equipment of similar size and complexity to what you intend to buy. Online reviews and testimonials can also provide insights into the experiences of other buyers, but read them carefully to make sure the reviews are for powder coating appliances that match your intended purchase and not for unrelated items like paint booths or training seminars.

  1. Long-Term Relationship

Professional quality finishing equipment lasts for several years, so you need to be comfortable with the company you do business with. Consider the potential for a long-term relationship with the supplier and ask questions prior to purchase so you have a clear understanding of how you will be treated in the future if you have technical issues or need advice. Building a strong partnership can lead to better technical support, valuable advice, and potential discounts in the future.

  1. Technical Support

All successful powder coating equipment suppliers should have likeable salespeople. Unfortunately, if you have trouble with your equipment, you probably won’t be talking to the salesperson for assistance. Evaluate the level of technical support the company provides. Do they have full-time technicians who can help you by phone or visit your facility if needed? Reliable, easily accessible customer support is crucial for troubleshooting technical issues, providing maintenance tips, and helping you understand how to use your coating equipment effectively. It’s also important to understand how the company handles warranty issues and replacement parts. If your equipment goes down, are they poised to ship repair parts quickly and support you? You should ask about expendables, like booth filters, as well. Do they stock filters that are competitively priced and can be provided in a timely manner? It can be frustrating to get locked into an equipment supplier and then learn you will have to source parts and support elsewhere. 

  1. Warranty & Service

Understand the warranty terms and conditions for the equipment you are buying. A good warranty ensures that you are protected in case of equipment malfunctions or defects. Most reputable manufacturers of professional powder coating equipment offer a warranty in excess of one year, while hobby equipment suppliers typically offer a warranty of only ninety days to one year. Make sure the warranty includes all components, like motors and burners, not just the parts manufactured by the company whose name is on the equipment. Normally, a warranty includes replacement of defective parts via ground shipment. If you need express shipment or need someone to visit your facility and help replace the defective part, that can cost extra. Also, inquire about the availability of maintenance and repair services after the equipment is out of warranty. Full-service providers should offer paid services like equipment cleaning and repairs and should have technicians on-staff instead of contractors they hire from job to job. 

  1. Price & Budget

Compare prices and equipment features from different suppliers and consider your shop size, budget constraints, and other relevant factors. Make sure you compare products of similar size and features to get a true “apples-to-apples” comparison. While cost is important, don’t compromise on quality to save money, as it can lead to higher expenses in the long run. Instead, look at the features and performance of what you intend to buy and make sure you aren’t paying for functionality you don’t need. It’s easy to get excited about promises that you’ll be earning big money with a new shop or saving thousands by bringing powder coating in-house, but you need to do a thorough job of understanding the return you’ll see on your investment and make sure there is a strong business case for your purchase. 

  1. Delivery and Lead Times

Before selecting a supplier, get them to commit to accurate lead times for equipment delivery. Delays can impact your production schedule, so make sure the supplier can meet your timeline and get a lead time commitment as part of your purchase contract. Professional quality batch equipment can take several weeks to manufacture, and custom equipment can sometimes take up to six months or more. Most leading coating equipment manufacturers stay busy, so unusually short lead times may be a red flag. You are better off planning far enough in advance of your purchase to select equipment that best suits your needs, rather than buying only from suppliers that have short lead times. Once you get a commitment, push the supplier to meet your deadlines and check in frequently to make sure the equipment will arrive as scheduled. 

  1. Regulatory Compliance:

The installation of your new equipment will involve electrical and gas utilities, as well as a compressed air supply and possibly water/sewer connections. To avoid complications, check with your local code inspectors before you purchase your equipment and learn what requirements they may have for your new system. Ensure that the equipment you intend to purchase meets all relevant safety and regulatory standards in your location. Established equipment providers can explain how their equipment meets these standards and provide some degree of support documentation. They can also help you understand common safety concerns and best practices. 

  1. Resources and Education

Inquire about educational resources offered by the supplier. These can include operation manuals, technical articles, and powder coating tips & tricks. These may be available as website pages, electronic documents, or paper manuals. Proper information can help assure that your staff operates the equipment safely and efficiently.

By carefully evaluating these ten factors and doing thorough research, you can make an informed decision about which company to buy powder coating equipment from. Don’t rush the process or get taken in by high pressure sales tactics or personality-driven salespeople who prompt you to make emotional decisions–choosing the right powder coating equipment supplier is essential to the success of your powder coating operation.