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Okanagan College boosts its sustainability with new high-tech trades technology
Okanagan College Media Release

Spray BoothA newly installed automotive spray booth for Okanagan College’s Collision Repair program is reducing carbon emissions while providing students with training on the latest technology.

The $170,000 Col-Met spray booth is one of the first pieces of equipment to be installed as part of the phase one funding of the $33-million renovation and expansion of the Trades building at the Kelowna campus.

“It’s state of the art, what the students are experiencing here,” said Collision Repair instructor John Euloth.

“This is a much more professional unit and more industry-relevant,” said Euloth, who has his Red Seal in refinishing and came to the College last July after working for 20 years in the industry.

“Students are now working with the same type of equipment that they are going to experience in a collision shop, and in some cases they’re going to be ahead of the curve. A lot of shops don’t even have some of the features this unit offers, such as the pulse air drying system for lower VOC water-based basecoats.”

The new unit is larger than what was previously used, which means students can now refinish trucks. It also features a baking system where temperatures reach 60 C, resulting in a significantly harder finish with both primers and paints.

A number of improvements have also resulted in a reduction in fuel and emissions with such features as a side draft exhaust that virtually eliminates overspray and various other improvements that reduce drying time.

“The whole process is much more streamlined,” Euloth said. “The speed of putting cars through has quadrupled so we’re now able to do between four and five repairs, where we used to only be able to do one or two. This means our students are able to get more experience in the same amount of time.”

The new spray booth is also helping the College reach its goal of becoming a zero net energy user, said Peter Csandl, Manager of Operations and Energy Systems at the College.

“We’re trying to reach zero net energy and this is definitely a project that is going to bring us closer to that goal,” he said. “The new booth is about 67 per cent more efficient than the old one. It uses less natural gas because the drying times are significantly reduced, and we’re also now able to recirculate the air that is used in the drying process, rather than use 100 per cent outside air. It really is the latest technology.”

The students started using the new booth in April.

This capital investment is just one of a series of upgrades and improvements to the existing five trades shops – all part of the first phase of the multi-million dollar renovation and expansion underway of the Trades Training facilities at the Kelowna campus.