"Plate or Buy" Decision

Question: Our company is thinking about bringing some plating processes in-house.


Our company is thinking about bringing some plating processes in-house. We currently do not perform in-house plating but buy plating services as needed. Can you offer any comments on how to go about making an intelligent decision about bringing plating processes in-house? K.M.


The plate or buy decision is normally not a simple decision to make. Some of the reasons given for doing your own plating are better control of plating costs, better quality control and better production control. Some of the reasons given for not doing in-house plating are reduced capital investment and reduced/minimal environmental and safety concerns.

Other factors to consider include:

• Do you wish to install a modern environmentally sound plating operation or one that will just get by?
• Do the numbers make sense financially?
• Do you have other chemically related processes in house?

If you decide to bring the plating processes in-house, you will not only have to install a plating line or lines but also a waste treatment facility. You will have to obtain the required permitting and probably add additional personnel to operate the plating lines and waste treatment facility.

It is my feeling that if your plating expenditures are greater than $400, 000-500,000, bringing the plating operations in-house may make sense. Obviously this is a rough estimate that must be refined for each situation.

Have you considered installing a dedicated plating line within a plating shop owned and operated by outside people? I personally know of a number of situations where a company like yours has paid for the installation of a dedicated plating line in a well-run plating shop. The shop handles the day-to-day operation and management for you. Before you make any decisions, you better do some number crunching.