The PCC Oven Upgrade

Within the construction sector, steel stands out as one of the most sustainable options available.  Not only is it a key component in building design and construction, it’s recyclable and reusable nature allows it to be used multiple times that help reduce its environmental impact.

Steel’s metallurgic properties means that when recycled, no degradation occurs allowing it to be melted down and reused an infinite number of times without compromising its structural integrity whilst using significantly less energy than producing steel from raw materials.

The challenge for a business such as Pacific Coilcoaters, the manufacturer of the ColorCote® range of pre-painted metal coiled product used in roofing, cladding and rainwater goods, is how to efficiently process the raw steel (and aluminium) coils in the painting process and to minimise the impact on the environment via the energy used and any greenhouse gases that may be emitted.

Since the inception of Pacific Coilcoaters, the paint curing process, which is effectively the same world-wide, has been conducted via the use of gas fired ovens with the business being one of the larger commercial users of gas in the Auckland region.

In 2021 with the existing paint line ovens nearing their end of life the business decided to challenge the “status quo” and embark on an ambitious program that was focussed on a more innovative approach to their replacement which would be better for the environment, meet changing customer expectations around the environment and to contribute to Fletcher Building’s goal reducing carbon emissions by 30% by 2030.

Simply put, the strategy was to significantly decarbonise the business as much as possible.  Following extensive research looking on global best practise, the final decision was made to replace the existing and outdated technology with a total of three electrically powered Near Infrared (NIR) ovens at a total project cost of circa $10 million.

Whilst seen as a common curing technology of paint in the aerospace and automotive industries, the use of NIR ovens in coil coating is rare. But the decision to install NIR ovens was seen by the wider business as a significant innovative move and to signal a firm commitment by Pacific Coilcoaters to help decarbonise the sector.

Coupled with this position was the added benefits of greater temperature control across multiple oven stages, less overall energy wastage, and improved quality control.

Traditional gas fired ovens are effectively giant hot boxes that require a lot of energy and time to reach their operating temperature, whilst NIR ovens operate in a similar way to a domestic bread toaster that is laying on its side.  When the ColorCote® paint line is turned on, the NIR oven elements are activated and reach their required temperature almost immediately.  When the paint line stops, the NIR ovens turn off immediately until they are needed again, unlike a gas oven that may have to be left running and consuming gas to help maintain its internal core temperature thus generating CO2 emissions even when the paint line is not running.

Following a lengthy period of planning that included the pre installation of two large power transformers and 3.7 km of 44mm power cables weighing more than 7.5 T, the old gas ovens were decommissioned in early April 2023, and the new NIR oven installation finishing some 6 weeks later. 

The NIR oven installation was also complimented by the commissioning of a state-of-the-art Regenerative Thermal Oxidiser (RTO) that incinerates all of the emitted volatile organic compounds (VOC) at a temp in excess of 750degs Celsius.

During the installation and commissioning period the business continued to support and supply it’s customers with all key product requirements as a result of working closely with them prior to the project commencement and through the use of its various product stocking models.

Following a successful installation program, the NIR ovens showed an immediate and expected dramatic reduction in CO2 produced per Tonne of product painted, with this reduction sitting at an average of 59% from its peak.

Coupling this new paint curing technology together with ColorCote®’s strategy of utilising water based paints combined with MagnaFlow™’s position of having the one of the lowest embodied carbon footprints within the pre-painted steel industry, means that customers can use ColorCote® products confident in the knowledge that they are working alongside a company that is focussed on delivering product that is not only “fit for purpose” but also doing what it can to minimise the impact on our fragile environment.

For further information on either ColorCote® products or this exciting project please contact us via