Why We Are Opening a Plating Shop in Mexico

KC Jones Plating Co. explains why they are joining several other finishing shops in opening branches nin Mexico, the No. 1 exporter of automotive parts to the U.S.


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The automotive industry in Mexico has grown rapidly over the last 20 years, increasing its North American production share by 12 percent, while the United States’ decreased by 11 percent.

Today, Mexico is the No. 1 exporter of automotive parts to the U.S., the largest manufacturer of vehicles in Latin America and the seventh largest manufacturer of vehicles worldwide. Additionally, it is the sixth largest exporter of automotive parts worldwide. In 2014, Mexico produced over 3.3 million vehicles. It is expected to produce more than 5 million by 2020. This rapid growth created urgent needs for quality suppliers with their base in Mexico.

KC Jones Plating Co. is among the many suppliers that responded to this need. KC Jones Galvanoplastia, S. DE R.L DE C.V., the Mexican arm the company, begins operations in Apodaca, Mexico, in February 2016 with a new rack plating line that will be among the largest in North America for zinc, zinc nickel and zinc Iron.

 

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Many major OEMs have an established presence in Mexico, including GM, Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Renault-Nissan, Honda and Mazda. Over the next two years, other automakers have planned moves to Mexico, including BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Infinity and Hyundai. Kia plans to open a plant in Northern Mexico this year. And a joint venture agreement between Renault-Nissan has determined that Daimler will produce vehicles for Mercedes Benz and Infinity in the same factory.

So why are we making this move? Well, a few years ago, KC Jones Plating prepared to place an automatic, electroless nickel plating line inside a customer’s facility. Just days before closing, KC Jones lost the contract to a Mexico-based company.

More recently, we recognized dissatisfaction among customers and suppliers in Mexico. They expressed difficulty finding platers to deliver high quality services, on-time delivery and target pricing.

Recognizing the trend towards increased manufacturing in Mexico and a need for plating services that would support that, KC Jones’ executives decided to explore the possibility of establishing a presence in Mexico.

President and Owner Robert Burger and I took a series of trips to gage the feasibility of extending our plating brand into the Mexican market. During our first trip, Burger expressed a desire to see KC Jones plating in Mexico before he retired.  On our second trip, we found the new customer needed to justify the expansion. Less than a year has passed, and KC Jones is within weeks of launching an active operation in Mexico.

 

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PC Lee owner of PAT, Chris Burger, and Jeff Stone from KC Jones at the factory acceptance testing.

 

Process Advanced Technology built our plating line in cooperation with GPR Wet Process Group to develop automation and controls and Dipsol of America as our chemical supplier.

“Designing our Mexican plant in a newer facility and with new equipment provided us an opportunity to overcome certain challenges we have faced at our U.S. facilities,”
Burger says.

The new plating line features five hoists and cathode agitation on all 12 plating cells, which improves thickness distribution. It plates the inside diameter (ID) of very small tubular products, and agitation helps move solutions through the ID of parts.  Separate rectification for the ID anodes enables precise control of plating thicknesses within the ID of tubes. Furthermore, lids on plating cells, chromate tanks and sealer tanks eliminate cross contamination of chemistries. 

At 140 feet long and 60 feet wide, the plating line, which includes dual pretreatment and provides the flexibility to handle various substrates and machining oils, will run Dipsol zinc, zinc nickel, and zinc iron. Total cost will exceed $3 million.

Mark Burger is the business development manager at KC Jones Plating. For information, visit kcjplating.com.

Originally published in the January 2015 issue.

 

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