Thermal Spray Engineering Outsourcing

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As thermal spray coatings facilities worldwide look for ways and means to control costs and improve their bottom line profitability, outsourcing as an option has crossed the minds of many thermal spray management teams. Some thermal spray facilities are already performing outsourcing in a limited manner – some successfully and some not so well. In this article, we will deal with the issue of outsourcing strictly from a thermal spray coatings engineering perspective. By outsourcing, we do not mean only inter-continental global outsourcing; on the contrary, we term outsourcing to mean also within your own locale as long as it is outside one’s own thermal spray facility. As mentioned, other aspects of thermal spray operations besides engineering are not addressed in this post.

Many thermal spray coatings service shops have to present detailed engineering technical plans for customer approval prior to processing hardware. This function has outsourcing potential. Additionally writing of standard operating procedures and revising them to meet newer specifications and revised specifications is another mundane task that does not need to be dumped on to your own company’s engineering department. Many thermal spray shops have thermal spray safety engineering that also is tasked with maintaining material safety data sheets and writing and updating hazard communication manuals and the like – this can be outsourced. I have also heard of sophisticated robotic programming shells being outsourced. These are not part specific programming; rather, these are shell programs – for example an up-down traverse program or an x-y simulator program to be coded for a specific robot. Such shell programs need to be coded so that there is sufficient thermal spray operator interfacing and input to be operator friendly. Thermal spray tooling design and manufacture for specific high volume coatings contracts can be outsourced very well. On the contrary, I would not recommend outsourcing the writing of specific part operation sheets or the writing of part specific robotic programming. Hence one needs to be careful in choosing what function gets outsourced and what does not.

And what does this all mean to the thermal spray engineer that is worried that his job is going to be gone? It means nothing but signs of prosperity and money coming your way Why do I say that? In every seemingly bad situation, there is always a hidden silver lining. Companies are outsourcing because they do not want that specific task to be within their payroll. Hence, if you are a thermal spray engineer, then you can start your own engineering company offering these very services that are being outsourced. Be competitive in pricing and be superior in quality and the work will simply come to you. You can be very busy and be earning a lot of money by designing good thermal spray tooling, writing standard operating procedures, developing engineering technical plans and so on. In fact, of late, quite a few such small companies have started capitalizing on the motives of companies that want to offload their repeat engineering functions. So turn it to your advantage and everybody will end up winning.

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