Anodizing and plating are lucrative industrial operations that fit well with other fabrication processes, so shops that play a role in another business’s parts pipeline often find adding a department for these services is well worth the investment. At the same time, it’s no small matter to finance a new anodizing tank and the control mechanisms needed to properly run through the process for any given parts. It’s also worth considering whether you need to invest in multiple tanks. If you only run one, you have to choose between offering just a single color and finish option and going through an expensive overhaul of the system and processes whenever you have an order for a new finish.
Resources Needed for Expansion
In addition to the tank and control mechanism, you’re going to need equipment for loading and unloading the racks that will hold parts as they go through the anodizing process. Often, the best approach is to task your own maintenance crew with building those racks in-house for individual clients, to suit their needs. That means making sure they have the equipment to weld the materials you use for racks, as well as enough supply metal to work with when you place a work order for a new type of rack or spline.
You’re also going to need to plan for a labor expansion, because you will need people to load and unload the parts on each end of the process as well as the skilled crew to run the anodizing process and control software. Re-tasking other employees to this new line might be possible when their home departments are slow, but ultimately the only sustainable way to offer your full range of services is to expand. You’re also going to want to have a trial customer on board with a contract that will allow you to put the new equipment to work right away, so you know you can hit the ground running after installing everything you need.