Comeback of zone ventilation for large paint booths

French plant manufacturer Omia has introduced a new design for large paint booths that is intended to significantly reduce their energy consumption. The core of the new technology is the division of the paint booth into zones that are automatically ventilated only when necessary.

large paint booth with zone ventilation
Zone ventilation is particularly suitable for large paint booths, such as those used for coating trucks. Picure: Omia

The new spray booth technology makes use of modern positioning and communication technology, which can basically be found in every mobile phone. This ensures that the painters in the booth always work in sufficiently ventilated zones, but that the ventilation is paused in other parts of the booth and thus does not consume any energy.

Easy communication with paint booth control

For this purpose, the employees carry a sensor with them that communicates with the cabin control system. Ultra-wideband technology is used for this. “The technology is comparable to Bluetooth and therefore not expensive,” explains Marco Riatti, sales manager for the DACH region at Omia.

The approach can be easily explained using a paint booth measuring 17 m x 5 m, for example for trucks or other large vehicles. This can be divided into five zones, of which usually only three are ventilated. One is the zone where a painter is currently working and the two neighbouring zones that act as safety buffers. Two zones therefore remain unventilated. “In this concrete example, about 40% air throughput and heating power as well as 30% electrical power can be saved,” explains Riatti.

The division of the paint booth is not entirely new; the concept existed earlier for large-capacity booths. Here, the painter had to operate the zone ventilation by pressing a button in each individual zone. What is new, explains Riatti, is the automatic detection, which makes the system independent of operating errors. The issue of explosion protection has also been taken into account; the sensor worn by the painter is designed for an ATEX 2 zone.

Quick response of paint booth ventilation

“It takes less than three seconds to switch the zone,” explains Marco Riatti, “so ventilation is always guaranteed.” Should an employee nevertheless be too quick, which according to Riatti is actually hardly possible, the system switches off the compressed air for the spray gun so that work in the unventilated area is not possible.

The technology is primarily intended for large painting booths. Omia’s customers include manufacturers of trucks, rail vehicles and the aviation industry. The paint booth is divided up according to the customer’s needs. Basically, the zone technology is said to be worthwhile from a booth length of twelve metres. The individual zones are usually three to four metres long.

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