Secrets of the Perkins paint shop

The paint products and processes used by Perkins ensure that the appearance of your engine matches its engineering excellence. As well as providing a high-level finish, painting brings significant benefits, including corrosion protection, extended engine life and an increased resale value as your engine stays looking smarter for longer.

Precision painting of your Perkins engine is a key part of its production process. It’s a final opportunity for Perkins to make your engine look just as good as it performs.

All our engines are painted on the site where they’re built, across our global network of manufacturing facilities. Peterborough, UK, has four separate facilities, which are split along the lines of engine type and emission standards, while Wuxi in China has two. A single paint shop at each of our other sites is sufficient to manage the volume of painting required by our global customers.

The painting process meets consistent standards wherever it’s carried out. Once engines have successfully passed all their relevant performance tests, they enter the finishing facility. Engines of 7.1 litre and below are suspended on an overhead conveyor, while larger engines sit on ‘movers’ – movable blocks that are used to transport the engine through each step of the process.

The finishing line

Each engine passes through several finishing phases. In the first, the engine receives any final additions as part of its assembly process. Then, units are plugged and masked. This prevents water getting inside the units during washing. It also allows operators to cover any parts of the engine that customers have specifically requested not to be painted, such as areas where they are planning to fit additional parts.

Next, the engine moves through an automated washer, where it’s comprehensively cleaned to remove any oil or grease picked up during engine testing, then dried. Once this phase is completed, the engine is ready to be painted.

Because of the complexity of Perkins engines, most of the painting is performed manually by experienced operators. It’s a highly skilled and demanding job, in which operators work to stringent standards of uniformity and finish, at impressive speeds. In some facilities, engines below 7.1 litre will be painted in as little as three minutes. However, for our larger engines of up to 64 litre, painting is a longer process. With a length of up to 3m and weighing in at up to 7.5 tonnes, these units can take up to 90 minutes to paint.

Array of benefits

When it comes to the paint product itself, most Perkins engines are painted with a lacquer of varying tones and colours. This offers a number of benefits, including corrosion protection, extended life of the constituent parts and a durable, hi-spec finish that’s proven to enhance the engine’s resale value.

Painting operators working on engines below 7.1 litre use a total of eight colours. For larger engines, a range of 15 colours is offered to customers.

All of the paint colours used by Perkins undergo rigorous accelerated life testing. This ensures that every engine sold to customers has proven, long-lasting protection against a range of corrosion factors, including weathering, UV, resistance to fluids, and colour retention.

Low impact – for more than a decade

The paints used on Perkins engines also meet strict environmental standards – and have done so for more than a decade. Some 15 years ago, Perkins took the decision to switch from solvent to water-based solutions to greatly reduce its VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions and overall environmental impact.

Since then, Perkins has worked with its suppliers to develop its paints and maintain quality, while reducing their environmental impact even further. The work the company has done is highly regarded across the industry, with several competitors also choosing to use paint products developed by Perkins on their own engines.

“The appearance of Perkins engines is incredibly important to our customers, as it is to us,” said Will Astbury, manufacturing advanced planning (global support). “It’s important we do justice to the quality of our engines and meet our customers’ expectations with a finish of equal quality.”