Routine Maintenance in the Finishing Shop

Years ago on there was a television ad for a car repair shop that encouraged people to change their oil and brakes as well as maintain their fluids in the car. The tagline was simple: “Pay me now or pay me later.”

Unfortunately in a metal finishing shop the same statement is true. Equipment maintenance in a metal finishing shop is often considered nothing more than an inconvenient hassle at the bottom of every plant manager’s “To-Do” list. However, with a little bit of proper care and some attention to planning, equipment can operate for longer periods of time without failure and dreaded down time can be minimized and more easily managed.

Maintaining Your Gear

In plating and anodizing shops, the equipment that requires routine maintenance should include filters, plating barrels, plating racks, anode rails, anode baskets/bags, tank saddles, fume scrubbers, steam traps, heat exchangers, chemical feed pumps, pH controllers and conductivity controllers. Within each one of these items, there may be several items that need maintenance, such as gears and danglers on a plating barrel. Depending on your work volume, the frequency of maintenance will vary but each one of these items should be on your checklist for routine maintenance. If you are uncertain of the frequency in your shop, we can help you create a checklist that works for your line.

In powder coating shops, the equipment in the pretreatment line that requires routine maintenance should include conveyor chain, racks, filters, pumps, spray nozzles, pressure gauges, chemical feed pumps, pH controllers and conductivity controllers. Every powder coating shop should have a heat pack to determine the dry off oven temperature and curing oven temperature at maximum peak.

Keeping an Inventory

Finally, one of the most overlooked aspects of maintenance in a metal finishing shop is an inventory of spare parts.  Even with routine maintenance properly done, all equipment WILL fail at some point. Taking the time to decide on an appropriate inventory of equipment on each line in your shop is an invaluable exercise. When you take the time to identify items that you need to keep on your shelf you can dramatically reduce down time and cost of parts and pieces to keep your line running.

We work with our clients on developing checklists for maintenance tasks and establishing inventories of needed equipment. Routine maintenance is a part of every successful shop. Simply paying attention to items that wear down due to contact or chemical exposure can help you reduce the cost of running your line, fixing equipment before it breaks will reduce the down time spent not running your line. What we have learned from our experience is the ad is right but incomplete it should say “Pay me a little now or pay me a lot more later.”