If you have just purchased an older shop and want to make changes, or are setting up a new one in an empty building, it can be daunting to look across that bare production floor and visualize where everything needs to go. Making the wrong decision about workflow could eat revenue slowly over time. A lot of repair shops believe efficient production is only a matter of square footage, but that is an incorrect assumption. Even a large shop could be inefficient with poorly planned workflow. The following are five factors to consider when locating a paint booth that could affect the production layout of your body shop:
1. Codes: Depending on where your shop is located, there are specific codes you need to follow when it comes to installing a paint booth in your repair shop. These can vary by jurisdiction. Codes are written, maintained, and published by national organizations of experts on the subject matter. When adopted by a local jurisdiction, state, county, or city, they become enforceable as an instrument of law. These jurisdictions are called LAHD or Local Authority Having Jurisdiction. During the adoption, each jurisdiction can modify or add to the code to suit their local requirements. These location-specific codes are the reason why a shop owner needs to contact their local distributor, who is an expert in your jurisdiction any time they are contemplating a new booth purchase. Common modifications to the LAHD include seismic specifications for California or HVAC for Arizona jurisdictions. Often the final interpretation and enforcement are up to the discretion of the inspector in the field.
For example, one jurisdiction might require you to have 3 feet between the wall and the paint booth, whereas an adjacent jurisdiction might not have that same requirement. You will need permits from your jurisdiction. Because of their environmental impact, some cities and states could offer grants or financing programs for paint booths that meet and exceed ecological guidelines. Check into this and see if your state offers this.
2. Roof or Ceiling Height: If your shop is lucky enough to be set up in a modern industrial park with clear span metal buildings, you may have plenty of roof height for all the ducting and air handling equipment vital to paint booth operation. But many shops get set up in older buildings that dictate what can get placed and where. Allowances must be made for ductwork, gas lines, power, and fire suppression systems. There are also regulations and rules needed to satisfy NFPA and OSHA guidelines.
3. Digging/ Pit Excavation: To utilize the benefits of a full downdraft paint booth, you will need to dig a pit for the exhaust, or purchase a raised “basement” which can add expense and height to your paint booth. Some building leases will not allow you to dig a pit into the slab, and some areas of the country have groundwater or soil conditions that eliminate the pit as an option. The need for a pit excavation will significantly impact the location of the paint booth. If digging a pit is not an option and adding a basement is not financially feasible, then a modified downdraft paint booth is your next best option. Modified downdraft paint booths have an exhaust usually located at the end of the paint booth’s structure to draw air and overspray down and along the floor before exiting the paint booth. This option is used often at shops that are not allowed to dig at their location.
4. Fuel: The average spray booth burner is 1 million BTU or more, and your building needs to be able to supply the amount of gas required. This paint booth installation may require additional modification to the supply line to get the gas where it is needed. If the gas supply is not available or too costly to upgrade, then propane is also an option.
5. Footprint: Many shop owners map out their floor plans based on the physical dimensions of the paint booth but neglect to consider the floor-mounted mechanical space requirements. Luckily there are options to where you place the mechanical, and your distributor can help you work out what is best for your production goals.
One final consideration in paint booth placement is the physical architecture of the building. Perhaps there is an I-beam or a load-supporting wall in the way of your ideal paint booth placement. Some things can be moved around, such as doors and windows, if your landlord permits it, while other physical attributes will prevent a paint booth from being installed where you want it. Again, this is an area where your paint booth distributor can be a vital asset to your paint booth purchasing decisions and is why we always recommend getting them involved as early in the decision-making process as possible.
Designing the best production layout for any space can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Invite the experts in early in your decision making the process and save yourself a lot of time wasted in drawing up layouts, and research only to find out your initial plan can’t get built. If you want to reach out to your local Garmat distributor, get in touch with us here: