Hempel has painted 20,000 mining containers during its eight-year partnership with Intermodal Solutions Group (ISG), with more than 1.5m litres of paint having been applied.
The coating is specifically designed to protect the containers against the highly abrasive and corrosive materials that they carry, as well as the external environment.
Garry Pinder, managing director of ISG-Pit to Ship Solutions, said: “Our containers are designed to operate in challenging conditions and require a coating system that is robust enough to withstand these harsh environments.
“We were delighted with how efficiently our containers were coated and the high-quality protection that was the result.”
ISG operates globally and so Hempel’s coating had to perform in all geographical and environmental conditions.
Prolonging the life of an asset and reducing maintenance costs are key requirements for many of Hempel’s customers and the company kept this in mind when designing a coating for such heavy usage containers.
The coating has performed well over the past eight years and, outside of steel damage unrelated to the coating itself, Hempel has not had to do any repairs to the paint and coating system.
Over the years it has had a change in product name and number as Hempel has improved upon the solution.
So far, the boxes utilising the second iteration over the past four to five years has performed equally as well as the first.
When it comes to designing coatings for particular customers, there are many things that Hempel has to consider in order to find the most ideal solution.
Kim Scheibel, group segment director, container at Hempel A/S, told CM that when Hempel is tasked with a challenge such as this from a customer colleagues like to “think out of the box”.
Creating a custom coating takes trust, as Scheibel explained: “When a customer like ISG comes to ask Hempel for its advice, they come into unchartered territory asking for our advice and recommendation. They come to us and we are their trusted partner.”
He noted that it is important to understand the entire process, not only the coating to be used, starting from the operation environment to the capabilities of the applicator.
In this particular case, the application process played a key part due to the fact that containers have relatively thin steel compared to most other structures, such as ship, that have thicker steel.
While the coating would and does work well in many other areas with abrasion exposed areas such as decks, cargo holds on ships, helicopter decks, ramps and bridges, the main difference in this case is the production process.
Scheibel added: “You’re having slightly different application issues and therefore you cannot just take a product and swing it over to the other side, you have to look at the whole process.”
Ships can be continuously blasted to create a very high profile, whereas blasting too much on the thin steel of a container is not recommended.
These limitations need to be considered when deciding which product is best as well the fact that containers are produced on a fixed line, moving from blasting units into priming units into top coats and so on.
Scheibel said: “It’s a processed line, so it’s more like you’re seeing a person make a telephone, they’re sitting there putting this stuff on individually and then the next person is putting something else into the telephone and then suddenly you have an iPhone.
“It’s a similar thing, you’re having a production line but these containers are a little bit bigger than iPhones, so it’s a bigger production line but the idea is still the same while ships and bridges are built individually as one structure and therefore have a different application process.”
Additionally, Hempel found that interior surfaces were not drying and curing quickly enough and came to a solution that involves turning the containers on their side or upside down when applying the coating.
This allows the high solids to cure quickly and without the need for electric ventilators, saving time and significant costs.