KTP with GCU helps Highland implement significant business benefits

10 March 2014

Highland Colour Coaters

Highland Colour Coaters

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership between Highland Colour Coaters and Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) has resulted in significant cost savings and improved productivity for the Cumbernauld-based company.

Highland provides metalwork finishing services including its Colourgalv process, which blends hot dip galvanising with powder coating to offer both corrosion protection and colour aesthetics.

The company decided a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) would be the best way to help investigate the causes and provide solutions to a technical phenomenon called ‘pinholing’ in which a gas seemingly emerges from galvanised steel and penetrates powder coatings, leaving small craters in the surface.

The company was introduced by Interface to GCU, which has expertise in surface engineering and metallurgy.

During the 30-month project, KTP Associate Rikki Speakman has been working under the supervision of GCU Professors Colin Chisholm and Mahmoud El-Sharif and Dr Ray Ansell, and with access to the research facilities of the world’s largest manufacturer of coatings, Akzo Nobel.

Powder coating involves electrostatic charged powder being oven cured. Prior to the KTP, a bottleneck in production was caused because items were dried for longer than necessary. As a result of the KTP work, Highland is now able to sample and measure the moisture to determine when it is dry more effectively.  When fully implemented it is hoped that this will increase productivity by 10-25%.

Geoff Crowley, Highland's MD said: “The KTP has found that there is no one single thing causing this pinholing problem, but a range of things. The work that Rikki has done has reduced the rate of re-works from 4% to less than 1% with an estimated saving of between £70,000 and £100,000 per annum to our business. As a mechanism for researching a problem that we don’t have the people, time or resources to do ourselves, this KTP was great for us.”

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is Europe’s leading programme helping business to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK knowledge base. KTP is funded by the Technology Strategy Board with 12 other funding organisations.

For more information, contact Knowledge Transfer Manager Janette Wark on 0141 331 8877 or email gcubusiness@gcu.ac.uk.