05. Mär 2020
BIA Group expands Chrome(III) capacity
The anticipated change from Chromium(VI) to Chromium(III) processes over the next few years as a result of REACh legislation poses a major challenge for the electroplating industry. Suppliers of chrome-plated automotive components in particular, have to perform a balancing act involving the conversion of their system technology whilst continuing production to enable the creation of capacity to fulfil new orders for surface finishes for which chrome-III has already been agreed.
The Solingen based BIA Group completed the first plant conversions in February 2020. At the Forst site, the electroplating plant was converted during the Christmas / New Year break to enable the production of both Chrome(III) and Chrome(VI) surface finishes. “By adapting the systems, we have significantly expanded our Chrome(III) capacity in the BIA Group,” emphasises Waldemar Ungefug, Managing Director at BIA Forst. “In addition, we can now promise our customers the supply of Chrome(III) components from Germany for the first time,” says Ungefug concerning the strategically important supply for the domestic market.
While the BIA Group at its locations in China and Slovakia has been offering the option of Chrome-III plating for years and the system at the Mexico location that will open in 2020 has been similarly designed, production at the German locations has so far been based exclusively on Chrome(VI).
“This fact was because the retrofitting of the systems at our German locations is difficult to implement due to the spatial restrictions on site. Where we were able to plan for the green future right from the start, we have already built our systems for both processes,” explains Danny Kelm, Managing Director of Production at the BIA Group, and adds: “In Forst and Solingen we needed some preliminary work“. In addition to conversion plans and approval procedures, production relocation strategies also had to be worked out in order to compensate for temporarily lost capacity before the conversions could start.
“The conversion in Forst was the first step in our investment plan for the coming years,” explains Kelm. This will increase the Chrome(III) capacity within the group by around 25%. “From autumn this year, we will also start to upgrade our plants at the headquarters in Solingen, which should be completed by 2022. This means that we are ideally positioned for the automotive industry to switch to Chrome(III) surfaces, which will definitely happen regardless of the further decisions of the EU on the subject,”states Kelm, stressing the BIA Group's positive positioning for the future.