Season 3 Challenges

REWARD - USD 10,000
Ferous Oxide

We apply varying type of organic paints onto moving steel substrate by using coater heads. In this operation, paint is transferred to the moving strip with rotating rolls. There are at least two rolls of typical diameters 250-300mm that rotate with a tangential speed of around10 m/min. Customers request a high number of different colors or different paint chemistries. After each customer order, coater heads need to be washed and cleaned to eliminate any color contamination or paint contamination. 


The coater head cleaning process involves many risks that need to be addressed, to avoid accidents. Some of the major risks are:

  • Explosive solvent fumes can build within the coater room which may cause an explosion, therefore, no electrical machinery within the coater room is allowed. For this reason, Coater room is Zone rated ATEX area.
  • There are moving parts of the coater heads that needs cleaning which can cause arm/hand/finger injuries.  Because of the rotation of the rolls, there is often at least one nip point. A nip point is a point of convergence between two rolling parts, or a rolling part and a stationary part, where all or part of the human body could become trapped and injured. In our setup, nip points are very common on all coil lines. Conveying a strip with rotating rolls necessarily means that the contact zones between rolls and strip (or in between rolls) generate nip points. Some operations are routinely made by people close to the zone of danger because of which there is a high risk of accidents related to nip points (or more generally related to pinch points) in this process.

The techniques deployed currently for cleaning are: 

  • Outward going nip (rolls rotate outwards so will not draw hands into the nip area between the rolls)
  • Reduced roll speeds
  • Guarding 
  • 100% Hands-free cleaning   
  • Low torque roll setting so roll will trip if something gets caught in the nip.   

Though most of the cleaning is done in "hands-free" mode, the risks associated are still not completely eliminated. Therefore, we are looking for solutions, which will completely eliminate risks associated with this process. 

The solution should satisfy the following success criteria – 

1) Zero harm (no injury): Operator’s hands should not get close to moving machinery while cleaning

2) Coater head cleaning should be completed in pre-defined time 

3) Coater head must get cleaned completely without leaving any traces of paint and substance used while cleaning

4) Cleaning substance must get transported and drained automatically

5) The standard of the quality of the cleaning should not depend on operator’s skill and physical effort 


Have any query or need more clarification about this challenge?

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