Thermal Spray Coatings Production Strength

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As you evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the various aspects of your thermal spray coatings operations, production strengths and weaknesses become imperative to assess. After all, without solid coatings production going on, metallizing service sales would drop and profitability of the thermal spray operations would go down. Flame spray industries are pretty much like other companies that are in the service business when it comes to this aspect. Thermal spray coating companies have similar problems as other service shops like brazing and welding but are very different from batch service companies like heat treating and anodizing, when evaluating production strengths. In this post, we will deal with the production aspect of thermal spray processing.

Years ago, I had the opportunity to be involved at a thermal spray coatings company with multiple plant locations. Each of the locations was performing well as far as sales and profitability. However, the late deliveries list for all plants was always showing entries in it. Needless to say the higher-ups did not like that. When I got involved, I brought to their attention that their late deliveries list had no chance of being empty simply due to the fact that each plant’s production strength was different. “ What do you mean” is what they asked me. I took two locations as an example and explained that the first location was set up to do higher volume thermal spray only. The second location was more geared towards the very low volume - higher priced thermal spray work. The sales force dumped whatever work they could get into whatever plant was closest to the customer. Hence the plant that was a higher volume processing plant would struggle to get the low volume coatings work out in a timely fashion and they failed every time; their engineering department was not set up to crank out process operation sheets quickly enough to meet the production deadlines. On the other hand, the low volume thermal spray plant did not engineer the tooling concepts well enough, so they would process high volume thermal spray work in a highly inefficient manner and would constantly slip in delivery times. “Thermal spray is thermal spray – just coat it quickly and ship it” will not work if you want deliveries to be on time.

The only way deliveries can be held to be on time while mixing high and low volume work is if you set up the thermal spray plant to “handle” both kinds; for example, you need a tooling engineering function with sufficient expertise to tool the high volume work accordingly and a thermal spray engineering function strong enough to handle the low volume parts fast enough as far as generating process and work instruction sheets. Additionally, the thermal spray operators need to have the ability to make fast change-overs when handling multiple low volume work. All this is essential because if deliveries keep slipping all the time, then customers might potentially leave because promises were not kept.

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