VOL. 9 May ISSUE YEAR 2008
in Vol. 9 - May Issue - Year 2008
Outsourcing Of Shot-Blasting Technology
Author Marco Heinemann
This is a concatenation of "outside resources using".
It means that external resources are utilized. Work and/or services previously performed in-house by the company are outsourced to independent companies. In recent years, outsourcing has become "fashionable" when it comes to rationalization programs and to focusing on one's own core competencies. Outsourcing, however, is not just a fad which, after a certain time, will no longer be "in"; rather, it is an essential tool for a profitable enterprise. Increased cost pressure forces companies in all industries to identify and realize savings potentials. Typical areas for outsourcing are accounting, logistics, building cleaning and upkeep, machine servicing, etc. – and, particularly, surface technology, which includes the area of shot-blasting technology.
It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it...
Especially when it comes to the quite often "annoying" and now and then also dirty process of shot-blasting, more and more companies focus on their effective core activities. A lot of companies do not fully investigate the in-house shot-blasting cost factor. Expenses for the shot-blasting process of a produced part tend to drown in the overall cost apparatus. Since shot blasting machines "destroy" themselves due to the work they are performing, their maintenance and upkeep is a main cost factor. Spare parts must be kept at hand as well as maintenance staff. Down times caused by breakdowns disrupt and/or slow down the subsequent processing steps and unnecessarily raise the overall expenses. Additionally, labour costs, space and its overhead expenses, costs of material consumption (blast-cleaning abrasive materials) and waste disposal must be factored in as well as, last but not least, the costs of new investments. Outsourcing these standardized tasks makes it possible to purge the internal processes from slag and to negotiate just in time processing with an external contract shot-blaster.
Especially in the automotive industry, though not limited to it, a pre-defined roughness of the surface is required, e.g. to provide the optimal base surface for subsequent coatings. In a number of cases, surface cleanliness, e. g. in accordance with SA 2.5, must be ascertained for mechanical post-processing. In case of parts exposed to repetitive stress, the main focus is on surface hardening, e.g. for springs, connecting rods, stabilizers, gear wheels or axle guides. Similarly, design surfaces, such as "elegantly matt" with microstructures on stainless steel or aluminium must be produced free of ferrite.
Due to the multitude of types of shot-blasting machines and blast-cleaning abrasives and/or particle sizes, it is impossible, even for a large production facility, to operate a profitable in-house solution. Customers expect solutions for all parts. It is therefore important to know of a contract shot-blaster who offers all processes.
Products from foundries, drawing plants, presses and forges must be shot-blasted just like finished products made from stainless steel, aluminium or brass. Pre-defined customer requirements regarding the roughness, purity and strength of surfaces must be complied with.
Flexibility for just in time
To remain in this business permanently, the following issues are a must:
- Willingness to invest in machines and equipment on short notice
- 24/7 service for the majority of the parts to be blasted
- Stand-by service for "emergencies" such as overnight production, weekend and holiday work
- Flexibility for "immediate" orders
- Absolute adherence to deadlines to prevent assembly line stand stills at the partner's plant
- Extremely fast reactions in the staffing and organizational areas
- Motivated and innovative employees
- Availability for intense customer contact
- Down-time strategies
The contract shot-blaster
25 years ago, the shot-blasting company Kugel-Strahltechnik GmbH (KST) made this niche its core business. On 30 shot-blasting machines at two sites customers are meanwhile provided with any type of surface imaginable.
The customers demand (and receive) a custom solution from KST for each part. Optimized production processes assure reproducibility and traceability of the orders. Whether processing large batches or one-off parts – our highly motivated team always upholds the customer's wishes regarding quality and punctuality at all times. Therefore KST does not consider its customers to be "just" customers, but primarily partners. Especially in a partnership, both sides work hand in hand. In order to be able to profit from Outsourcing, it is therefore important that the partners can rely on each other.