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4/1/1996 | 3 MINUTE READ

Putting It All Under One Roof

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Captive finishing shops are relocating to a single facility to increase profits and deal with environmental issues...


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Many large companies in the Michigan area are evaluating their captive product finishing operations and considering a move to the Kalamazoo Plating Center (KPC). KPC is a 550,000-sq-ft common facility that provides a proactive solution to the array of cost and quality control issues that confront captive shops.

There is an increasing trend for manufacturers with multiple captive shops to consider alternatives for their finishing requirements. Because of high operating and labor costs and escalating environmental liabilities, many manufacturers are moving away from captive operations. Some companies have decided to phase-out finishing operations in favor of job shops. Others are consolidating and improving operations as a way of maintaining future control over quality, scheduling and costs.

Economies of scale. Manufacturers interested in consolidating and modernizing their captive operations report that a centralized finishing facility reduces the need for large capital investment. The center also provides for fixed costs and economies of scale in commodity pricing that a stand-alone facility may not be able to achieve. By aggregating demand, the facility negotiates and contracts for bulk-rate services. These are passed on to each tenant at 100 cents on the dollar. For example, one prospective tenant found a $150,000 annual saving in the cost of electricity. Other discounts on goods and services range from insurance to chemicals.

Improved productivity. Manufacturers also report a need to update their technology and increase efficiency. In many cases, manufacturers reported that improvements in production were necessary to reach new quality standards. Pollution control and prevention systems were often cited as needing major overhauls.

KPC provides modern and efficient production space specifically designed to accommodate most finishing operations. All leased premises include a six-head drain manifold stubbed out of each facility. Each tenant's electric service is sized to the shop's specific requirements. And each has segregated wastewater outlets leading to the on-site waste treatment facility operated by KPC. In addition, each shop will have high-efficiency, industrial lighting and heating systems. Each unit will be environmentally isolated from its neighbors, and each will ship and receive through its own dock.

Centralized waste treatment. The cost of installing, upgrading and maintaining a pollution control system escalates due to increasing regulations, environmental management overhead and disposal costs. In some instances, system additions or replacements are requisite to accommodate process changes. KPC relieves these pressures by capitalizing and operating a full-service wastewater treatment facility to serve each of its tenants. Each tenant is metered separately and shares use of the common treatment facility on a pay-per-use basis. As part of the tenants' single payment, KPC assumes responsibility for environmental management and reporting, system operation and maintenance and solid-waste disposal.

The wastewater treatment system handles a broad range of contaminants and will employ a continuous flow model, capable of treating a throughput of 1.5 million gpd, seven days a week. The treated water will be discharged to the Kalamazoo Water Reclamation Plant in accordance with regulatory requirements.

Once each tenant's waste stream has cleared its outflow meter, KPC is the responsible party under federal and state regulations. Established protocols ensure the KPC will never be out of compliance, and backup systems ensure that it will never be out of service. The entire system is also insured.

Total cost and quality improvement. By off loading pollution control and other operating overhead and accessing the below-market cost platform, captive shops are freed to implement their core mission: increased productivity and total quality management. At the same time, liabilities are reduced and the parent retains complete control over future costs and schedules.



Approved Pollutants at KPC
Pollutant 30-Day Average Concentration
(solubility test basis)
Cadmium 0.02 mg/liter
Chromium 1.37 mg/liter
Copper 1.12 mg/liter
Lead 0.06 mg/liter
Nickel 0.80 mg/liter
Silver 0.24 mg/liter
Zinc 1.48 mg/liter


Approved Non-Treated Pollutants
Total Cyanide 0.13 mg/liter (treatment not provided; may require tenant pretreatment)
Total Toxic Organics 1.07 mg/liter (treatment not provided; discharge subject to approved facility plan)
Oil and Grease 50.0 mg/liter (same as above)
pH 1.0 to 13


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