Staying One Step Ahead in the Aerospace IndustryBy Sofía Hanna | Mon, 07/12/2021 - 13:45
Q: How will Metal Finishing Company’s new steel processing line make a difference in the heat treatment and aerospace plating processes?
A: The installation of this line was delayed by the COVID-19 crisis but it will be fully installed this year. The new line will focus on hard metal coatings, cadmium plating and different types of passivating for stainless steel, and zinc-nickel. We will also look into providing other types of finishes for steel parts in the near future. This line is important because these capabilities are still missing in Mexico’s aerospace supply chain.
We have informed the leading OEMs and Tier 1s in Mexico to gain their support in accrediting the line, which will open more doors for machining companies to start producing more steel or hard metal parts. We are filling a missing link in Mexico’s supply chain.
Q: How important is it to be able to offer all the necessary material treatments in one place, and how can this result in an advantage for the customer?
A: The gaps in Mexico’s supply chain force companies operating in the country to send their parts back and forth between different locations for necessary treatments. Our secondary processes allow Mexican suppliers to avoid these numerous deliveries, which helps reduce logistics, costs and production times. It is of the utmost importance to integrate the region’s capabilities and allow companies in Mexico to develop a regional market.
We are providing not only hard metal finishing but also magnetic particle inspection, which is an essential gap in the supply chain. Companies like Honeywell are already certifying our magnetic particle inspection capabilities.
Q: As a long-time participant in the market, how important is it to pair customer loyalty with a wide range of services?
A: Our path to growth is mainly based on trust, commitment and teamwork. We are growing alongside our customer’s needs. During the past six years, all the processes and services we have added have been based on what the OEMs, Tier 1s and our customers have needed. We have developed an open communication channel to know companies’ projections in Mexico. Metal Finishing Company has built trust not only with our direct customers but with OEMs, which allows for the development of the supply chain.
Q: Why was Chihuahua chosen as a strategic point for the company and how has it helped you develop your core services in the aerospace industry?
A: We worked with what is now Textron Aviation in Wichita, Kansas, and when that company decided to open an operations center in Chihuahua, it asked us to join it and start all the secondary operations it would need at its new location. Several sub-tier companies came to Chihuahua to support that company and after that, many other opportunities opened up.
We started operations in Mexico in 2011 and developed rapidly but the sector was still developing at that time and it was not as large as it is now. The COVID-19 pandemic hurt our growth but we do have plans to continue expanding and growing. We are always looking for new opportunities in Mexico and we are exploring opening another operations center in the country.
Q: How would a client benefit from a long-term agreement with Metal Finishing Company?
A: Long-term agreements lead us to see our customers as partners and develop a close relationship. These agreements also secure pricing, service, on-time delivery and our commitment to guarantee capacity and service for up to five years. Thankfully none of these relationships were affected by the pandemic. We are ready for whatever will come for the industry. We guarantee our customers that no matter what happens, they can trust their plans with us will continue unchanged.
Q: Metal Finishing Company works with a wide variety of industries. Which sector holds the most opportunities for growth and in which are there greater difficulties?
A: We are looking for opportunities in transversal industries. We have found opportunities in the recreational vehicles industry. Overall, the automotive industry requires a low mix of parts at large volumes, while it is the opposite for the aerospace sector. For that reason, working with both aerospace and automotive companies could be complex. The recreational vehicles industry is an exception because of the volumes required, which has allowed us to diversify into this industry. We are also working in the renewable energy and medical sectors.
Q: How were Metal Finishing Company’s operations affected by the pandemic and what are your expectations regarding the industry’s recovery?
A: Last year, our sales shrank by 30-35 percent but mainly because of the Boeing 737 Max production halt. Mexico relied significantly on that program. Later, the pandemic landed a second hit on the industry. Fortunately, we diversified our services so we were able to stay afloat. Recently, paused programs are coming back and demand is picking up, so expectations are promising for the end of 2021 and the start of 2022.
Q: How are Metal Finishing Company’s services and technology contributing to the decarbonization of the aerospace industry?
A: We contribute through environmentally friendly coatings. We are working with Bombardier to develop ways to change and substitute chrome. There are options available and OEMs are beginning to change their engineering specifications to eradicate chrome coatings. We are adapting our processes to be ready in the coming years. We are working in advance to eradicate or diminish the use of chrome in parts.
Q: As materials evolve, how have your processes adapted to ensure optimal performance while striving to reduce manufacturing costs?
A: We are starting to develop coating applications for composites and carbon fiber structures. The industry is increasingly adopting additive manufacturing of carbon fiber or composites so we will eventually develop coating applications for composites. We are now working with a Tier 1 company in Mexico to transfer technology for this type of coating from the EU.
Metal Finishing Company is a family-owned aerospace processing business that offers Non-Destructive Inspection, heat treatment, and numerous processing and paint solutions for aluminum, steel, titanium, magnesium and more exotic alloys.