Cleaning of Kitzmann Equipment


Our client is a leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings, supplying to manufacturers such as Volkswagen, Mercedes, General Motors and BYD. Their manufacturing organisation in Montbrison, France, consists of 5 types of machinery: weighing, extruders, grinders, packaging and bonding.

The focus of this project was on one of the pieces of weighing equipment, the Kitzmann, a piece of computerised weighing equipment that fills tanks with raw materials. This equipment was installed in 2017 as part of an effort to modernise and automate the weighing process, which was previously done manually. Since then, the weighing process has been composed of two pieces of computerised equipment (the Kitzmann for quantities over 35kg, and the Colour Service for materials under 10kg), and manual weighing.

Before the project, the output of the Kitzmann did not meet the business’ requirements, bottlenecking production. As such, Project7 were engaged to assist in improving processes and increasing the Client’s productivity.


The main issue identified with the Kitzmann was the presence of phantom tanks, a tank that the equipment’s software considers processed, when in reality there is no tank. This slows the process down and the number of tanks filled is lowered significantly.

On average, the company found that there were 3 phantom tanks per day, and upon investigation, they discovered that the majority of phantom tanks occurred in the loading area.

The key impact of this bottleneck is that production volume is significantly lowered and orders take longer to fill, especially made-to-order products, as there cannot be any buffer stock for these orders.

Two main root causes for phantom tanks were identified:

  • Dust buildup on the captors
  • Lack of warnings on the installed program regarding phantom tanks A 5 Whys analysis was performed regarding the dust on the captors. The main findings were:
  • The design of the machinery didn’t allow the captors to be covered to protect from dust
  • The dust comes from the 4 powder-based raw materials, mainly from the titanium, as the aspiration system used whilst loading the titanium is not powerful enough to prevent leakages.


In order to overcome these challenges, a two-part solution was implemented; one for the equipment itself and one for the Man-Machine Interface.

The first stage of the solution-focused on changes to the equipment, including:

  • Hardware modifications by the manufacturer to improve the aspiration system around the loading area
  • Hardware modifications by the manufacturer to add a second detection system
  • Software modifications by the manufacturer to highlight abnormalities in the process

The second stage of the solution-focused on changes to the Man-Machine interface, involving the:

  • Set up of a periodic frequency for cleaning the cells (and a cleaning frequency for the equipment and surrounding areas).

Several changes were put in place within the equipment; two detection systems were installed (a mechanical system that was not reliable enough, which was replaced by additional captors and a software update that allowed it to handle double the information), and further software modifications regarding machine abnormalities.

The Man-Machine Interface also experienced changes; captors were cleaned weekly and the areas around the machinery were cleaned in part after each shift according to a rota.

Impact on Performance