Changes South of the Border
On March 1, 2003, Galnik S.A. de C.V. initiated operations of its new automated zinc plating line in the city of Querétaro in Central Mexico. The company had been providing electrolytic plating services since 1988. The growing demand, as well as commitments with its clients, prompted the company to update its operations.
The company was founded in 1988 under the name Maquilas "SAVE," offering zinc plating in Querétaro. Over the years, more than 10 different processes were installed to meet the growing needs of the market, netting the company annual growth of more than 45%. This growth has been supported by a culture of quality and customer service. In 1996 the company was awarded the prestigious Quality Award from the state of Querétaro, in addition to being certified ISO-9002.
In January of 2001, the owners of the company, a family owned enterprise, integrated their operations with a leading American coatings applicator in an effort to consolidate and spur growth. However, after the sale, the acquiring company changed ownership and management, resulting in a focus away from plating and into powder coatings. The company had, until 2002, operated zinc and nickel plating baths in a manual fashion. Quality levels were maintained, but the company was not keeping up to date with the new requirements from its customers.
A New Company
In August of 2002, the original owners, in addition to two investors familiar with the industry, re-acquired the company and Galnik S.A. de C.V. was formed. The new owners dusted off the expansion plans and initiated investment in a new facility. The company moved to a larger, 18,000-sq-ft plant and built and automated dual-hoist zinc plating line with the help of a local supplier, Eppesa. The line has the ability to provide multiple chromates, including trivalent, in both rack and barrel.
"The line has 38 stations, with immersion degrease, electrolytic degrease, activation with eductors, zinc plating, chromates and air dry," said Renato Villaseñor Mendoza, operations manager. The plating chemicals are from Enthone Inc. With this equipment Galnik will provide zinc plating in both rack and barrel, with trivalent chromate, yellow chromate, olive green chromate and black chromate. Auxiliary equipment includes tanks, rectifiers and hoists.
From the previous facility, a semiautomatic nickel-plating line has been upgraded, as well as a tin line, a reel-to-reel nickel-plating line, zinc phosphating and electropolishing of stainless steel. The facility also has an automated cleaning line for stamped parts, in a process in accordance with regulations for food products.
"The automation," stated Renato Villaseñor, "has eliminated the possibility of human error, increased efficiency and productivity, as well as the consistency and homogeneity of our plating and current distribution. In addition, Galnik has obtained processes and chemical cycles at the forefront of current technology, in accordance with customer's needs."
The automated line has tripled capacity and increased production efficiency. Since startup in the first quarter, the company is producing in one shift what it needed three shift to accomplish in the past. Working at 25% of its capacity, the new equipment has reduced labor needs in half. Two workers can now perform 100 - 200% more work than was done by five. Given the cost reductions and increase in productions, Villaseñor expects to see a return on investment that will allow the company to continue to grow into new processes.
Galnik serves the burgeoning automotive parts industry in central Mexico. The company expects to capitalize on this growth and be producing at full capacity within the next three years. The existing floor space, in addition to the modular design of the line, will allow Galnik to add incremental capacity at its existing plant. Galnik's expects to serve customers in a 300-mile radius of its facilities, which includes automotive OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers in San Luis Potosí, Silao, Puebla and Toluca. The company will also explore geographic expansion as needed by current or potential customers.
The improvements do not stop at production, but also include upgrades in Galnik's quality system. The company is pursuing ISO 9000:2000 certification this year, and in 2004 to have obtained TS-16949. In the environmental arena, Galnik has a wastewater treatment facility and will seek ISO-14001 certification before 2005. Thus, Galnik continues to respond to a compromise of growth and quality made to its customers.