process improvement of six million parts
- RMF's 'good is never good enough' attitude leads to ingenious ways to reduce costs for powder coating brake calipers and brake fluid systems
- the company expanded its production processes with a new automated, part-specific recipe-driven heavy zinc phosphate line
Thinking outside the box and going the extra mile are just two of the characteristics that define RMF, part of Aalberts surface technologies. These two characteristics were on display when the company came up with ingenious ways to reduce costs for powder coating brake calipers and brake fluid systems, as well as helping them to expand their production processes.
'A lot of our success is attributable to paying special attention to details,' says RMF's director of business and product development, Adam Brumfield. 'One recent job required powder coating brake calipers and brake fluid systems, which involved an extensive amount of masking downholes and other areas that were not only labour-intensive but also used a significant amount of caps and plugs in the masking process.'
In an attempt to reduce some of its costs, RFM looked into reusing the masking after they were used in the powder coated process, Adam says. 'When you finish almost six million parts like that a year, it becomes an appreciable expense when using that much masking. We tried a few unconventional tactics to get the powder coating off the masks, including tumbling the masking in a dryer with a few dozen used golf balls to try to rub the coatings off the plastic components. We also looked at chemical treatments to clean the masking components, but none seemed to do the job that was up to our standards.'
Ultimately, RMF set up an in-house stripping system to clean the caps and plugs from the powder coating. They now operate a three-shift operation focused entirely on stripping and cleaning the masking components to have them ready for the next batch of brake calipers or brackets that will need powder coating. 'It’s around the clockwork,” says Adam. 'It can get quite expensive, but for us, it is an advantage to have this type of operation in our own facility where we can control the process and the outcome.'
good is never good enough
It’s this attitude that leads to truly satisfied customers, and enables the company to expand its production processes. ‘A great example is the new automated, part-specific recipe-driven heavy zinc phosphate line we’ve just installed’, Adam says. ‘This line is capable of coating parts in a barrel or rack with the application of different coverings. Currently, the line operates on a 10-hour/shift schedule, and we plan to expand it to a three-shift, 5 day-a-week schedule. We might be a 60-year-old company, but we're always on the lookout for better ways to run our operations and build even better relationships with our customers.’
Going the extra mile and questioning the status quo not only helps our customers, it also makes us stronger as a group.