Location: Dartmouth, NS
Years in business: 41
Key manufacturing processes: Machining, welding, plating
Recent investments: Automated shot peener, turning centre with live tooling
Atlantic Hardchrome’s “one-roof” operation at its 32,000 sq ft facility in Dartmouth, NS, has served the 41-year-old job well during the recent volatile period in the economy, and given the continued uncertainty, will help protect the company in the coming months.
Private sector consensus for Nova Scotia is for growth at 1.6 per cent in 2012, and 2.2 per cent in 2013. This matches the national growth outlook, but overall North American growth could be in some jeopardy as government stimulus is withdrawn on both sides of the border.
Atlantic Hardchrome was the first to launch an industrial hard chrome plating business in Atlantic Canada. The family owned and operated business has since grown and handles a host of machining and manufacturing services.
“We started with plating crank shafts and now plate industrial, OEM, and aerospace parts,” says James Gillis, who heads business development at the company.
Atlantic Hardchrome has a comprehensive industrial manufacturing operation that includes plating, manual and CNC machining, grinding and welding. These are capabilities that have found a ready market in Eastern Canada, and beyond.
“The majority of our business is in the Maritimes,” says Gillis. “However, our parts end up all over the world. I would say 10-15 per cent of our business would be in the USA, some ending up as far away as California.”
The company’s success in its own back yard–Atlantic Canada and the North Eastern United States–is due in part to its ability to deliver quick turnaround on rebuilt components. For industry, a long wait for replacement parts can be costly. To bring together the right repair solutions in a timely manner means having numerous capabilities under one roof.
“Our competitive advantage is being able to do everything at one facility,” says Gillis. “We can go from raw material to our CNC manufacturing and then on to the plating and then grinding. All of this is done in house. This enables us to control quality at every process.”
Being around for over 40 years makes a big difference, too. The company has many years of experience in all types of industries, and can address needs beyond plating and heavy industry to include fishing, forestry, pulp and paper, power generation, and general manufacturing. To thrive in the Maritimes, having this depth and flexibility is crucial.
“When you do business in the Maritimes most companies must wear many hats,” says Gillis. “It is difficult to survive if you are focused on just one task, because there is not always consistent demand in one sector.”
“Most of these sectors requiring plating or coatings,” says Gillis. “But oilfield, for example, can be very cyclical. It is not something that we could survive with, though it is an important part of our business.”
Welding and portable line boring are mostly to support the industrial repair side of the company’s business, with Atlantic Hardchrome able to rebuild a range of equipment such as pumps, blowers, feeders, and gear boxes. CNC and conventional machining services are complimented by cylindrical and surface grinding, hydraulic cylinder repair, and oil field machining services. As well, a variety of plating technologies is crucial for high-value work in a number of industries.
“Our nickel plating line is used for aerospace and industrial components that need repair,” says Gillis. “We have 18 tanks dedicated to our nickel plating alone. In addition we have hard chrome, chromate conversion and tin plating.”
To service the industries it works with means ensuring it has the right standards in place. Atlantic Hardchrome’s quality assurance system includes AS9100 quality management certification for the aerospace industry, and ISO 9001.
“We are also American Petroleum Institute (API) Spec 7 compliant for product and service supply organizations, and have Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) CSA Standard W47.1,” says James Gillis, who covers business development for the company.
For CWB compliance, a supervisor who is qualified under the CSA W47.1 standard must make sure that Atlantic Hardchrome’s welding procedures are current and approved by the CRB. This includes all joint and positions related to fabrication.
“To maintain certification we need a specific number of welding supervisors to control welding operations,” says Gillis.
The company also conducts chromate conversion to the MIL-DTL-5541F Type 1 standard, which is a US military specification for chemical conversion coatings on aluminum and aluminum alloys. Hard chrome plating is consistent with AMS 2460, nickel plating to AMS-QQ-N-290B , and tin plating to MIL-T-10727C Type 1.
Along with these various standards, over the past three years Atlantic Hardchrome has also upped its emphasis on improved productivity.
“We constantly train and cross train our employees,” says Gillis. “We have purchased larger machines to process larger parts quicker. And we purchased new improved machining software allowing us to program quicker and more efficiently than before.”