WILWOOD BRINGS TYPE III MILITARY-SPEC HARD ANODIZING HOME
finishing companies that we’ve worked with in the Southern California area.
What was the driving force that made the company want to eliminate outsourcing by bringing the anodize process in-house?
Quality control was key in making this decision. It’s so difficult to control the tight tolerances that we have on our pistons and bore interface. By bringing the hard-anodize process in-house, we’re working hand in hand with the machining end of the process, so the finishing and the machining are on the same team. There’s no finger-pointing now, and we’ve really dialed in our tolerances.
Also, if I’m positive of the numbers—and pardon me if I’m mistaken—but we are doing close to 100,000 sets of calipers a year, and it’s so tough getting those shipped around the area and brought back in. The logistics we were faced with before were a nightmare.
We can only imagine that headache. Now you guys can keep a closer watch on the products from start to finish, right?
The neat thing about doing everything in-house now is that when we manufacture a brake caliper, we have an inboard and an outboard, and those both come to me in the finishing area. They get tooled up right next to each other and go into the tank next to each other. Until the customer gets it, they’re still going to be right there next to each other. If we have any variation in the process, and
I’m talking like 1/10 of 1/1,000 of 1 inch of thickness, it’s going to be the same on the ones sitting next to each other. That is something that has always been a struggle when using outside vendors.
It’s that quality control when you come into our facility, and you look at what is coming out of this department. There’s a very low variation of color coming out, and that’s because Phil has had such tight constraints on the quality control aspect of it all, which has been the key to what we have going on here now. Right, Phil?
Yes, it’s the consistency of doing things exactly the same every time. The color, even if there’s just a 5% difference, will jump out at you when you get that in-bore connected to that out-bore, and this is not what we want for our customers.
Let’s talk about this addition to the Wilwood facility. How long did it take to get it up and running at full speed?
From the moment I stepped in here, the clock started ticking. I’d say it was about eight months until we were running parts on a daily basis. We relied heavily on our in-house maintenance and facilities team members, since they were already very familiar with some of the equipment.
Another thing about Wilwood that a lot of our clientele appreciate is that we design, engineer and build our own tooling for everything.
When it came down to Phil, who is the architect behind this whole facility, saying that he wanted to run with A, B and C, instead of farming it out, it was done to what he saw best for the operation here at Wilwood. It was a huge team effort.
Is the staff that works in the anodizing department a specialized team who has had experience with this type of work before?
Yes and no. They are a dedicated team for this part of the operation, but we trained them from new. We couldn’t bring anyone in who had experience, because the way we’re anodizing here is really different from what you’re going to see in the rest of the country. We didn’t want to bring anybody in who had habits formed by the way this process was being done 10 years ago. We’re really trying to incorporate every piece of current technology that is available to us today. Everything is programmed and automated, and it’s really more about geometry and math than it is about simply dipping parts in a tank anymore.
How big is the anodizing staff and how much space is needed for the process?
Right now, aside from the facilities support staff, we have seven anodizing technicians working in two shifts, and we’re running anodize 20 hours a day in our facility. We’re using about 4,000 square feet for the anodize-finishing area, and we have our powder-coating done onsite right on the other side of us.
Was it difficult to gather all of the machinery that was needed to start anodize production?
We did have to invest in new equipment, of course. Before I came onboard with Wilwood, the company had a few quotes from businesses that build anodizing shops. The problem with all those companies who build the anodizing shops is that they want to build you a shop that can do anything. But what the Wilwood management was concerned about was doing our own parts, so we were able to save nearly half of what had initially been quoted to us to set it all up. Everything in our facility was purpose-built specifically for our product line.
And to add to that, there were a lot of other local business just within the Camarillo area that
THE OVERHEAD BRIDGE CRANE MOVES PRODUCT FROM BATH TO BATH EFFORTLESSLY.
A HIGHLY ADVANCED WATER RECYCLING SYSTEM KEEPS THE ANODIZE FACILITY STOCKED WITH DEIONIZED WATER WHILE REDUCING THE NEED TO DISCHARGE TO THE SEWER, AND IT USES FEWER THAN 300 GALLONS PER DAY.