Midlands-based electroplating company EC Williams, which produces electroplating and plating services, is to commission a new barrel plant for its nickel plating services.

The company said the current plant had reached the end of its useful service life and required decommissioning. It has serviced the company well for many years but is now out of date in terms of environmental issues and control systems.

A spokesperson said: “The plant has become expensive to operate in terms of spares, and a disproportionate amount of both planned and reactive maintenance time is required to keep the plant in serviceable condition.”

As a result, a new plant  has been designed to take into account additional environmental issues now affecting the electroplating industry.

New methods to be adopted include advanced drainage techniques, a nickel drag out tank to provide a base for returning drag out to the plating station and the plant design will have an eco-rinse (drag-in drag out).

Elsewhere, other methods for auto-recovery include ion exchange and membrane technologies that will be considered where feasible. The plant will have computerised controls that offer the flexibility for reconfiguring for alternative uses should these be required.

Ampere hours will be collected and monitored as a control parameter to prevent over plating and to ensure accurate additive dosing checked against chemistry. The plant’s computer will have a database facility, including processing parameters against each part number. This could, in time, develop to use photographic storage.

The company spokesperson added that the plant should be able to operate in “’random mode’ that is really a flexible mode, which means that each job can be allocated to a specific process route and control plan regardless of the other work on the plant”.

The computer will seek to optimise the production and service the barrels at the time closest to the call for next operation.

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