Podcast Interviews

New Applications for Thermal Spray Technology

Learn about the many ways thermal spray technology can be used in the heavy-duty trucking industry. 

Episode 112: Can thermal spray technology be used in the trucking industry? Will this technology make parts last longer and lower the total cost of operation? Kody Skinner and Lacey Reames are thermal spray experts, and they work for HTS Coatings. This interview was originally aired as a Livestream on HDPR Live.

HTS Coatings Logo, the makers of Thermal Spray

To learn more: Go to HTS Coatings

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Complete Transcript of Episode:

Jamie Irvine:

You’re listening to the Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And this is the show where you get expert advice about the heavy-duty parts you buy and sell and keep you informed about what’s happening in the industry. Did you know that every Friday we go live at 10 AM, Mountain, 12 PM Eastern? You can follow us on YouTube, Facebook, or LinkedIn to watch our live broadcasts, but you can also head over to heavydutypartsreport.com to check out the replays of our live presentations. Today on the podcast I’d like to share with you one of the live interviews that we’ve done recently, because I thought that it was something that would be of interest to you. I hope you enjoy this replay of a live interview we did not that long ago. Now, when we think about work trucks, we think about the environment that they work in. They work in the toughest environments that there are, and they have to last in order for fleets to be profitable enough to keep operating this equipment in those environments. And what we wanted to talk about today is, is there a way to reinforce, to protect key components from those environments and make them last longer, thereby driving down the total cost of operation? So I invited Kody Skinner and Lacey Reames from HTS Coatings to join us today. And we’re going to kind of go on a journey together to explore their solution and how it could apply to the trucking industry. Now, Kody serves in the technical sales role at HTS Coatings, and his job is really about discovering new opportunities for their solutions. So he’s a key person for today’s conversation. And Lacey serves as the director of sales and marketing. Lacey’s responsible for sharing the story of HTS Coatings through the various types of media and content. She’s a digital marketer and is really all about trying to get that message out there. So I think we’ve got the right two people to talk to, to try to explore this avenue of lowering cost of operation by using their coating technology. So let’s get them involved in our conversation, Cody, Lacey, welcome to the program. So happy you’re here. So Cody in the technical sales role, when you’re out there looking for new opportunities what’s your mindset when you’re approaching that just as I was reading your bio is kind of thinking about my role as a salesperson, I know when I was prospecting, how do you approach that?

Kody Skinner:

We’re looking for, you know, it’s unique because our business is like a mile wide and a foot deep, and we can really find our spot just about anywhere. So we’re looking for basically three components or six areas. Anybody that’s struggling with like a wear issue, like a dimensional breakdown on a part, we can pinpoint and block off and get our coding on that. Someone that’s working, having trouble with corrosion or, needs a thermal barrier. We even work with like pump cavitation inside of pumps. So I’m looking for anybody that wants to extend life and has a part that’s maybe hard to find and we can bring it into our shop and make it look new again.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, most of us are trying to avoid problems you’re out there actively looking for them. Lacey, tell me more about the technology involved in applying these coatings. Because like I said in the introduction, we’re really looking to explore how your technology and your service could help the trucking industry. So maybe just walk us through the actual technology behind the coatings.

Lacey Reames:

Of course. Yeah. So the simplest way to kind of explain it, it’s thermal spray technology is what it’s called and it’s like spray painting was molten metal which sounds really cool. And it is, there’s sparks everywhere. It’s hot. It’s great but we have these various different processes. We have about six of them and they apply a varying amounts of heat and velocity to kind of create these molten particles and propelled them onto the surface of these components. It’s almost any metal you can think of, anything from stainless steel to custom alloys, to hard ceramic coating, such as Chrome carbide. It’s a very versatile technology like Cody said to apply to many different things, offers a lot of different solutions, mainly, you know, we can remanufacture parts to help kind of take off a damaged surface, put a new one back on and bring it back to those OEM dimensions that those parts suppliers are looking for, different things like that. But it’s also used kind of like preventative, you know, we can make a lighter, cheaper part and put a coating on it and make it last longer in the long run. Like you said, cut down those maintenance hours and cut down that time off the road. That kind of thing.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. You know, as you were talking about the different kinds of metals that you can apply it to. I think back to my days when I was working in a remanufacturer and we did a lot of things with pneumatics and also with hydraulics and it was mostly for logging and mining applications. So, you know, tough environments. And I remember remanufacturing one part and maybe it had an aluminum cylinder and the actual cylinder material was made out of aluminum. The next one was brass. The next one was maybe a cast iron for a hydraulic application. So it was, it was all over the place. And you’re able to adapt your process to different kinds of alloys. Would you be able to cover any steel or is there limitations to what you can and can’t do?

Lacey Reames:

There are some limitations to the process it’s very rare, usually it’s kind of a mechanical bond on some of them, so you gotta be able to blast the part or get it rough enough that it’ll kind of stick to it. So there are some limitations on like just some parts if they’ll distort, like I said, it’s high heat on some of these processes, if they’re going to distort in those processes, but most like tool steels aluminums anything like that are pretty applicable to anything we’ve even put it on plastic before, some carbon fiber. So just depending on the process and really our engineers are really great at figuring out which materials are best and which processes really can help those find the solution that you need in there, even depending on your limitations of the material.

Jamie Irvine:

Right, so Cody, let’s talk about the waste removal and construction business. There is a lot of hydraulics on those trucks. How could your solution help them?

Kody Skinner:

I think a lot of it’s you’re right. The environment’s rough, it’s a tough environment. So the hydraulic rod and then the pump shafts are the two main areas and it’s putting a coating on top of them. I was just out in our shops before I came in here and talking to one of our engineers and he brought up, he reminded me of a situation where a rod that had our coating on it got bent like quarter of an inch, kind of tackled it like quarter of an inch with our coating on it. And he said they really had to get after that thing just to just straighten it out and our coating stayed. So, you know, it’s a good thing to have on those units that are in those harder environments.

Jamie Irvine:

Right. And I mean, I’ve sold parts to those, that part of the trucking industry and sector. And one of the things I know is you know, there’s a lot of contamination, there is a lot of abrasion and because of all these hydraulic systems, you know, you think of a like a garbage compactor, right. They’re picking up the whole dumpster lifting it. Those are big cylinders in the construction with PTOs the applications are almost endless. So I think for anybody that’s in that environment, where I live, there’s a lot of oil and gas. There’s a lot of logging. There’s a lot of construction and road construction, things like that. So I’m thinking like now that you’ve opened my mind to this coating, all I’m thinking is, is that there’s hundreds of possible applications in that one sector of the trucking industry.

Kody Skinner:

Well, yeah and like Lacey had said there’s different coatings and we use different processes. So we can really narrow it down to, like you said, the part of the country that you live in that may need something because it’s the corrosion or wear, we can really come up with a formula that works for each individual customer.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back. If you’ve ever thought about starting a mobile repair shop, or you’re looking to take your shop on wheels, to the next level, you need to read How to Start a Mobile Repair Shop. This free e-book from Fullbay walks you through everything you need to know to get started and to scale your business. Grab your copy at fullbay.com/mobile. Fullbay is the leading heavy-duty shop management software solution for fleets and independent repair shops. So they know a thing or two about how to run a successful mobile operation. Grab your copy of this free e-book at fullbay.com/mobile. So Lacey, connection management is an important part of operating a commercial truck and trailer safely. And so there’s the king pin and the fifth wheel, and there’s also the pintle hook and drawbar eye, two different types of connections. How could your solution improve the life of an aluminum fifth wheel specifically?

Lacey Reames:

Great question. So I kind of see two different solutions. Here are applications that could really be used. One, I know, we’re making these out of aluminum because it’s great to decrease the weight and the price of it. But sometimes that’s not the hardiest when you’re slamming those things together, getting that truck loaded and making those connections. So thermal spray could take that aluminum part and apply a more wear resistant coating just on those connection areas and that kind of thing like that. Now you don’t want to be banging around a lot, which is going to happen now and then, but it can make those connections last longer. You’re not doing maintenance on the truck, that kind of thing, and the connections on the trailers, but the second benefit actually might seem too good to be true. I had to, you know, run this by our engineer. Like you said that, right? Correct. And that’s that you can actually use, you know, from Cody was telling me that they have to be lubricated, you know, every once in a while, you’re putting the lubrication on it, kind of having to do that when you make those connections, that kind of thing takes time and you have to make sure you’re doing it, but you can actually put a material on it that one, is not only going to kind of be wear resistant, but actually what, for lack of a better term will self lubricate. So we can use what’s called like a, it’s like a brass coating. And so it will hold on, you put that initial lubrication on there and it actually holds on to that grease longer than, than a different surface would. And so you’re not having to lubricate as often. We’ve used these in many different industrial applications, but, um, thermal spray could, could help with that. And we can make not only makes a connection to me last longer, the parts, but also kind of help with that lubrication. So it’s not as critical to, you’re still checking it obviously, but it’s not as critical that you’re going in there every time and lubricating it. So that was just kind of almost seemed too good to be true, but it’s really cool if you get down to the engineering of it, it’s really cool.

Jamie Irvine:

That tracks for me though, because I used to sell friction material that had brass in it. And as the friction material heated up, the harder you worked at the brass would lubricate and actually protect the lining from being overheated. So, you know, that brass content definitely has those characteristics, the harder you work at it actually does act like a lubrication. So that tracks for me. So I can see the definite application in a couple of these vocations that we’ve talked about, but Kody, your whole job is looking for different opportunities. What other places in the trucking industry do you see this being a good fit?

Kody Skinner:

As the technology increases and we end up more in a circular economy, a lot of our fits are getting brought to us by the engineers themselves trying to cure a problem. So like you were saying the remanufacturers, they’re bringing the problems and it’s just a matter of making that connection. So when you do that, you’re looking for, I personally feel like, the axles themselves are kind of like almost a no-brainer, but then you can look into like the fuel delivery, the exhaust systems, the suspension systems, any of those that are going to have a moving part or in a high wear area, that’s just having a breakdown. And the idea is we space that maintenance interval out, you know, and I think we can help a lot in it. It’s just making that right connection with the right people.

Jamie Irvine:

You know, you talk about spacing out the maintenance intervals, that is a bigger deal than maybe it first appears on the surface, just extending the life of something six months, even between intervals, is a massive cost reduction, because let’s say it’s one unit that we’re doing that with. And so the technician doesn’t have to work on that unit at that time, but then you add up all the units in the fleet and you start to look at what else can that technician be doing that they normally were spending time on this maintenance item and now they don’t have to, it’s a longer interval, so they don’t have to.

Kody Skinner:

Yeah. It has that exponential effect. And we’ve had customers or clients that have used the coating, not so much in the transportation, but they’ve used it as like wear item where it will be on the coating, it will break down and then they know, okay, it’s time before they actually do damage to the part. And so we can put certain coatings that I wouldn’t say fall off, but they get wore just like the part it would, but we know then, and we can start keeping track of the maintenance, like you said, and you don’t have, and I think too, you’re going to have maintenance, but you don’t want maintenance on California in the desert, you want maintenance in your shop and you want schedule and you want to know what you’re working on and we can help with them.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. And if you’re wearing the coating, instead of wearing the part, you don’t have to buy that part again. So now you have a direct impact to the bottom line because it saves having to purchase that part. And let’s say you’ve got 300 units. It’s just that savings times 300 over the lifetime of the vehicle. It could be now times replacing that part three times. So all of a sudden, we’re talking a few hundred dollars saved on one unit extrapolates over time to thousands and thousands of dollars of savings, right to the bottom line of the fleet. We’re going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back. The way we buy things has changed. Over the last year we’ve all grown accustomed to the ease of online purchasing. This is no different in the heavy-duty truck parts industry. Buyers are looking for a streamlined digital experience where they can quickly find the part they’re looking for. If you’re looking to get started with e-commerce, there’s no better partner than GenAlpha Technologies. If you want to learn more or schedule a free demo, make sure to head to genalpha.com. That’s genalpha.com to start maximizing your online potential. Lacey, you know, I know that you’re looking for partners, you’re looking for people in the trucking industry to do some pilot research and development and get involved in that. So if someone is listening to this, what’s the best way of getting involved in one of those programs?

Lacey Reames:

Yes. So we have process engineers on staff doing some R and D, but on our end, it’s always better to work with a company to figure out a specific problem, help them with their projects, what issues are they facing and find the right solution for them. It just makes the R and D more purposeful, you know, you can go out and try stuff all day long but knowing what solutions we can actually solve and help customers with is the best way to do it. It always is. And so we’ve actually, like you said, heavy, industrial, big hydraulics, that kind of thing. And so working specifically in the trucking industry is something that we’re kind of looked into. We have someone maybe doing some test parts for, but we would love to have more to really see if this is an area where thermal spray could really help out. So if there are companies out there who have parts for remanufacturer, or just extending the life of new components they can easily contact us through our website at HTS Coatings.com. It’s a great way to get in contact with us.

Jamie Irvine:

All the information is there. And so we’ve included the link in the show notes. So doesn’t matter what social platform you’re listening to this on live, or if you’re watching this on the replay on heavydutyparts.com, the link to HTSCoatings.com is in the notes. So you just go there and it’s one click, and you’ll be able to contact HTS Coatings. One of the things I was thinking about, we didn’t plan for this part of the conversation, but the Technology and Maintenance Council, TMC, they are really the advocates for the trucking industry on the fleet side. And they’ve got a fall meeting coming up in Cleveland, Ohio that I’ll be at. So, you know, that’s definitely something that HTS Coatings, if they want to get more involved in the trucking industry and talk to fleets who have problems, that’s a great place for you guys to go, if you haven’t already gone there before.

Lacey Reames:

Excellent. That’s a great idea.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, I’ll be there as long as the COVID pandemic doesn’t shut down the border again. Yeah so it’ll be the first trade show I’ve been to in, I don’t know at that point something like 18 or 19 months, so I’m pretty excited and it’d be great if you guys were there.

Lacey Reames:

Cool. That’d be neat.

Kody Skinner:

Very cool. Awesome.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, thanks for taking some time to talk to us. I’m looking forward to boosting this whole episode, we’re going to promote it heavily because I think most people in the trucking industry need to think differently. They need to open up the different solutions that they’re considering, because at the end of the day, if we help the trucking industry, we’re helping society at large. And I know you guys are excited about that. Well, thanks again for being on the show and we’ll talk to you later. Thank you for tuning into this week’s episode of the Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And I just like to remind everyone to focus on cost per mile, and let’s keep those trucks and trailers.

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