After identifying an interest in the market of powder coating roof rails for automotive, R&M converted both its processing lines. We used Chromating pre treatment together with cleaners and etches, in order to gain maximum control and improved powder coating production efficiencies.
The Market Change Of Powder Coating Roof Rails
Our success resulted in eventually powder coating 75% of all the roof rails fitted to cars in Europe. Some 20,000 car sets (80-120,000 components) per day. This continued until the business eventually exited from the UK.
However, upon the loss of this market, R&M converted the powder coating pre treatment lines to orthophosphate or ‘multi-metal’ treatments. This enabled R&M to diverge from finishing purely aluminium to servicing both ferrous and nonferrous industries. Additionally, whilst retaining the high controls of a continuous line for volume production for which R&M had gained a reputation.
Powder Coating For The Automotive Industry
Using the experience gained in the roof rail business R&M Powder Coating quickly built up a portfolio of other automotive customers. For instances, processing steel pressings, fabrications, castings, forgings etc. As work has steadily moved overseas R&M sought market stability, with one customer who had a long track record in the UK.
Future Proofing The Business
R&M has successfully won contracts to powder coat drive shafts to a major UK manufacturing business who is an established global player. We also directly worked with Toyota to identify the optimum process for coating drive shafts.
Following the 2 year report from Toyota confirming their preferred process route, R&M pursued the opportunity to meet this process with the commitment of Toyota’s UK supplier, with the intention of winning the work back from Poland. The confirmation of this process was for polishing and a TriCat Zinc Phosphate pre treatment using a continuous line for optimum quality and consistent process control.
No other powder coater in the world had this process on a continuous line. In addition, no one had achieved the required grain size structure which in turn would give the required performance using a continuous line. The UK manufacturer that supplies Toyota indicated its commitment to R&M. Funding was sought after and the plant was designed and installed.
R&M designed this line to give the best corrosion performance. Additionally, it was designed to process heavy gauge work very efficiently with the introduction of a multi-zoned cure oven. It facilitated consistence in the operating speeds and efficient energy management. Therefore, the Toyota work was transferred to the UK together with several other projects near doubling volumes overnight.
Recognition Of Customer Needs
R&M has always attempted to understand the needs of customer in order to maximise the benefits. This has led to introducing various operation to both add value but more importantly reduce operation costs within the supply chain.
- Drilling & tapping
- Linishing & polishing
- Plugging and capping
- Sub-assembly work with bolting and bolting
The more dynamic operations included the design and installation to support a bespoke FIFO (First In First Out) stock management system. This facilitated R&M’s customers in achieving 100% schedule adherence to the vehicle manufacturers. In addition, with greatly reduced operational and transportation costs.
Unique Selling Points (USP)
It is easy to see that the two processing lines support consistent high quality & volume powder coating efficiently. However, we have looked deeper to drive to ‘get it right first time’. We did this by designing our pre treatments to ensure the automotive parts are cleaner than required for powder coating. Consequently, minimising any risk of process faults, which also gives R&M a second key USP – purpose built surface treatment solutions.
Furthermore, the nature of high volume, high quality production requires fine-tuned administration systems. R&M have developed the necessary skills to handle and accurately record stocks and paperwork systems.
USP Example 1 – Pre treatment
For end customers were Volvo and Daewoo, R&M utilised its cleaning facility to clean parts for engine management systems to extremely high tolerances. Independent laboratory checked to achieve contamination of less than 2 particles of more than 25µm in size. This was for a one day turnaround of batch sizes of 100,000. The process modifications to meet this requirement included installation of conveyors to take the components from the line to a purpose built packaging area.
USP Example 2 – Pre treatment
Powder Coating of stainless steel sheets for the construction industry with high degree of adhesion. The requirement of meeting the adhesion was paramount as these large sheets, 8’x4’, would be machined and formed after coating. The customer had major difficulty in in finding a capable supplier. This work is now shipped over 250mls in batches of 100 to be processed in 24hrs. Additionally, there was no requirement of major modifications to the plant.
USP Example 3 – Pre treatment
Heavy vehicle manufacturing various parts for powder coating – application of a quality assured powder coating. Being IATF:16949 accredited this is of course a core skill of R&M. Also, the only modification to the standard process was to introduce a specific powder coating pre treatment line check, which is easily met with only one of the available cleaners.
USP Example 4 – Process Design
Oscillator blades. The job requirement was to protect blades from corrosion (literally give them a predictable ‘shelf life’). The production characteristics were:
- High volume (25,000/day)
- Low cost
- Handling of delicate & dangerous parts
- Stock control
- Process control
The main USPs requirement is design and development of unique process to achieve all of the above. Having identified the suitable finish the main aim is to develop a reliable process that will achieve a demanding cost target. If successful this will lead to a significant growth with other parts all at significant volumes.
Market Strategy And Process Alignment
R&M is a well-established powder coating company that caters to a specific market. However, due to market pressures outside its control, it is necessary to expand into new markets with a firm awareness of its USPs in order to find new applications, as well as adjusting its processes to fit the needs of potential clients. Using R&M’s evident and well-known skills to find new clients and creative applications that satisfy the company’s regular, volume production goals – in metal finishing, not only powder coating.
If you are interested in our powder coating services, get in touch today. Call us on 01384898765 to speak to our friendly and helpful team. Additionally, if you enjoyed reading this blog, why not take a look at a previous one: The Benefits Of Powder Coating On Vehicles