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The importance of high quality surface finishing –for both functional and

decorative applications –isbecoming ever more significant across industry.

The drive towards greater commercial competitiveness, for example, means that production efficiency is key which, for the

surface coating sector, creates acontinual focus on maximising both quality and standards.

At the same time, fulfilling ever-tighter environmental

obligations –not least through regulatory issues such as carbon

tax –isadding afurther perspective that calls

for all processes in the sector to be optimised.

Plasticraft, part of NHE and one of the UK’s leading process plant manufacturers, believes that electroplating is akey element in this equation. However,itsays, it is important that specifiers should look beyond equipment installation to ensure ‘Through Life Costs’ are as structured and economically efficient as possible.

“While, of course, we are committed to ensuring initial capital expenditure is minimised, we also encourage customers to focus on forward looking expenditure issues,” says Mike Priddle, Managing Director of NHE.“These range from day-to-day running,such as energy consumption and environmental compliance, to maintenance expenditure –all of which we include in our assessment of cost effective plant. With the latter, for example, the option to structure and plan service and maintenance procedures can contribute directly to the value of the overall investment.”

In addition, Plasticraft has noted areas in which customers are looking to enhance the cost effectiveness of their operations through the use of complementary equipment installations – those that often operate in conjunction with the central electroplating process –many of which can also be fulfilled from within NHE.

“For example, increasing automation is a self-evident indicator towards finishing plant becoming amore integral part of an overall production process,” continues Mike Priddle. “Computer control not only means highly accurate and repeatable performance within the installation itself,but also provides opportunities for direct interfacing with other parts of the production process.” He believes that alogical extension of this is amove towards process lines being installed as an entire production entity rather than simply comprising equipment that is ‘dropped into’ an existing facility.The latest versions of Plasticraft’s automated equipment interface with central manufacturing execution systems which orchestrate the whole production output of the factory.

Although he still believes there is an important function for ‘dropped in’installations, the

32 SURFACEWORLD april 2013 follow us on Twitter @surfaceworldmag

company is increasingly finding that discussions with potential customers centre on the capabilities and role played by processing lines as part of overall production facilities, rather than stand- alone stations that operate in isolation from other manufacturing operations.

It is aview that is endorsed by Plasticraft’s Sales Director,Will Green –

“Asaresult, there is agreater need for manufacturers of process plant to liaise directly with suppliers of other equipment,” he says. “Handling,positioning and logistic systems are good examples as are, of course, the other equipment and services available from NHE. Thus Ardrox Engineering,recognised inter- nationally as aleader in both non-destructive testing and fluorescent penetrant inspection, and Lancy Technology,innovators in waste water and effluent treatment, often work closely with Plasticraft to meet specific customer needs.”

It is clear that product finishing is an evolving industry with success often based on a manufacturer’s ability to make the most of changes in terms of techniques, processing efficiency and materials. “Relationships between manufacturer and customer in this context are key,” concludes Mike Priddle, “and we would encourage everyone looking to invest in new plant or to upgrade existing facilities to ask questions of their finishing line supplier that can still be answered 10 or 20 years in the future.”

Tel: +44 (0) 24 7625 3099


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