Plating Fundamentals: Checklists

Metal finishing operations and managers often overlook the importance of line maintenance. Rapid production demands and ever shifting production schedules lead to conflicts between making repairs and making money. Committing to the required dollars for equipment repair and upgrading is easy to postpone. Plating shops do everything they can to manage their bottom line by controlling short term expenses. Unfortunately, production is often disrupted as a result of avoidable equipment breakdown and failure.

When we talk to industry leaders in plating, they point to the importance of discipline as the key to running their lines at peak efficiency for maximum hours. Specifically, they recommend establishing a checklist that allows them to minimize breakdowns and failures.

The Process Checklist

Looking at their plating shop from a process viewpoint, operators start with the basics. “Walking the line” is often a planned daily activity. Checking time, temperature, and chemical concentration are also regular occurrences. Keeping a daily log must be a requirement in order to identify trends. Hull Cell testing can also be added to your checklist to identify problems in the bath and to test potential fixes.

When finishers establish a checklist, it rarely contains new or groundbreaking steps to follow, but is vital to ensuring the quality of the finishing process. These checklists are usually filled with items that every plater know needs to be done, but many platers simply become too busy to complete them. When you look at your shop, ask two major questions:

  1. Do we use a checklist?
  2. If we don’t, should we?

If you don’t answer yes to the first question, you should answer yes to the second. A simple checklist provides discipline in managing your finishing operation. Assigning specific responsibilities with specific completion times will avoid skipping crucial steps due to your teams’ demanding workload.

Think about your last visit to the doctor. Regardless of the hustle and bustle at their office, before you met the doctor, you were weighed and your temperature and blood pressure were taken. Finally,  a nurse asked a few basic questions about your overall well-being. To a doctor who is troubleshooting a patient illness or injury, each of these fundamental steps is essential and saves them time.

The same techniques apply to a finishing operation. Successful operations instill this philosophy in their employees. Managers utilize dashboards to monitor simple checklists and alarms are triggered when key parameters are out of range. Maintaining logs and records holds individuals accountable and increases the odds of finishing good parts.

At Asterion, we’re dedicated to helping our clients set up checklists, design measurements and systematically do the “little” things right.