PPG’s Automotive Refinish business hosted a media event Oct. 31 as part of SEMA Show activities. Held at Drai's Beach Club at The Cromwell Hotel in Las Vegas, the latest technology was on display, including the newest product for the United States, the automated MoonWalk mixing system.
Tom Maziarz, vice president of automotive refinish for the Americas, said the company is known for its innovation and new products, and the products shown that day were part of the company's sustainability platform moving forward.
"Color is vital to our value proposition," Maziarz said. "That's what people expect when they hear "PPG," when they put us in their shops. So we are continuing to look for ways to deliver a better color experience moving forward. Our latest and greatest we believe with what we have rolled out and what we continue to innovate with, that we have the best-in-class keys-to-keys process."
He said the equipment has been shown to reduce overall cycle time by 15 percent.
"Our DigiMatch camera takes an image and reads the color on the car in 30 seconds; you can then pull the formula that provides the best match into our Linq color software, and you can then you see that visually side-by side on a panel. You can rotate the panel so you can see all angles with different light sources. A painter in the past used to have to tint that color, spray it out on a sample card, and then look, take that card put it up next to a car and say, OK, is that a good match? Can I blend that? That was time and material they would have to use. You don't have to do that anymore."
The MoonWalk is the first automated mixing system launched into the industry, he said, with almost 2,000 installed in 45 countries. The system was launched in Europe a couple years ago, and 190 systems have been sold in the U.S., with 120 having already been installed.
"The interesting statistic about that is of those installed globally, 30 percent of those were for people who were not PPG customers until they put a MoonWalk in. And probably one of the best testimonials you will see, a shop in Steubenville, Ohio, put a Moonwalk in. Their painter is 64 years old, give or take. When the owner decided he wanted to put the MoonWalk in, let's say the painter was not exactly enthusiastic about the prospect of going to this machine for his mixing system. The first week went by and we visited him, and he said, "I've nver felt better leaving work than I do now. I'm not spending my day bent over a scale mixing paint; this is the greatest thing we've ever put in. And I will not go to work for another place that doesn't have a MoonWalk."
The MoonWalk system minimizes material consumption, and as a self-contained system, it provides a clean, splash-free workspace. It's sized to fit all mixing rooms and features 80 storage spaces for toners and 13 positions in the dispensing rack. The user loads the required toner, additive and thinner bottles into the rack, and the system checks each bottle’s barcode, automatically dispensing the correct amount of product and printing a label. The average painter takes from 10 to 12 minutes to mix a formula, and rushing the process often introduces errors. Once the mix ingredients are loaded into the system, the painter can walk away and spray adhesion promoter, sealer, or another labor process while the system starts mixing (done in few minutes.) So, the system's selling points are its greater productivity and efficiency while also limiting the potential for human error.
Besides the DigiMatch and LINQ Color cloud-based digital color software Maziarz mentioned, media representatives saw the MagicBox, a compact device that is used with LINQ Color software to complete the mix without the need for a separate large PC by using a smartphone. It's also equipped with sensors to automatically detect humidity and temperature, which allows it to recommend the correct primers and clearcoats to use for those conditions, along with the correct ratio and combination.