Protective metal plating

What Drives Turnaround Times For Protective Metal Plating & Finishing?

Turnaround times (TAT) may be the most important factor in earning business as a metal finishing house. A quality finish is of course crucial, and so are reliable and consistent results. However, in an advanced industry with so many competitive players, efficiency and speed can really set one firm’s services a cut above the rest.

But what elements drive turnaround times? Some involve processes that are required, and not entirely within your metal plating company’s control to change or accelerate (at least, without sacrificing quality or process compliance). Other factors are directly impacted by the finishing house. 

Let’s walk through the main considerations that can affect turn times for protective metal plating, tooling, and MRO processes.

Chemistry and Dwell Time For Your Specific Application

The processes and specs required for your job will be the primary factor in determining turnaround times. The chemistry behind each process will require a certain degree of dwell time for that reaction to occur.

The total time for a plating process will be a function of:

  • How thick a coating you’re depositing
  • What kind of base material you’re using as the substrate
  • The sort of plate you’re applying

Electroless nickel and cadmium plate processes, for example, involve entirely unique chemistries and thus have unique time requirements.

The Line Capacity of the Plating & Finishing House

This is one of the most important things your service partner can impact directly. How many parts can your plating and finishing house put in at once? Does their line use a rotating barrel, a rack, or a basket? Can they process 10 parts at once or 100 parts?

For instance, if you’re looking for passivation work, you’ll want to investigate the size of the tank used by your service provider and get a good sense of how many parts they can drive through simultaneously. Every additional cycle that’s necessary on the line adds turnaround time to your project.

Optimized Chemistry For Reliable Quality

High-quality work has a strong correlation with fast turnaround times because you’re avoiding rework. Anything that negatively impacts quality can increase costs. If every third batch the plating house runs needed to be stripped and recoated, this would lengthen turn times substantially.

It’s important for your partner to use an optimized chemical process that minimizes any incidence of chipping, peeling, or fading. These are fallouts the plating house can mitigate by working closely with the chemistry provider to apply ideal chemical concentrations for a recipe with strong adhesion and repeatable, consistent deposits.

A Mindset of Continuous Improvement

You can't improve what you don't measure. A mindset of continuous improvement and analysis is a cornerstone of every metal plating company with fast TATs. The concept is straightforward: a company that closely monitors and strives to further optimize turnaround times is more likely to realize improvements than a company that doesn’t. 

MFT closely tracks and pursues improvements to TAT at all times. We segment our internal data on turn times into each major area of our business (tooling, commercial plating, and FAA MRO work) for clearer insights into how we’re doing and where we can improve.

The data consistently shows us that we’re achieving our goal of providing industry-leading turn times, but this alone isn’t enough to satisfy our mindset. We want to be sure we can sustain them and even improve upon them. That work is accomplished by keeping track and constantly maintaining and updating our processes and equipment to realize even the most modest of gains.

If you’re looking for the best turnaround times in the industry for protective metal plating finishes, corrosion-resistant coatings for steel, or other finishing, cleaning, or plating types, get in touch. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about the specific factors that will impact turn times for your job — and the reliable TAT you can expect with MFT.

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