Kawneer’s chrome-free processes are judged best in class

Kawneer’s pre-empting of a ban on the use of chromate has won plaudits.

The pre-emptive move by Kawneer, a leading UK manufacturer of architectural aluminium systems, away from using chrome in its production pre-treatment processes has been recognised at the highest level.

Kawneer, part of the Arconic group, had used chrome as a typical anti-corrosion coating prior to powder coating for 25 years.

But the company recognised it needed to review this practice in light of a European Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) ban which is due to come into force in September 2017.

The review prompted a six figure investment in new and improved production processes including two new de-mineralisation units, stainless steel lined tanks, laboratory equipment, dedicated storage area for test panels… and customer viewing platform.

These changes warranted an earlier than scheduled Interpon D approved applicator audit for 2017.

The report (Indr17/007) by auditor Akzo Nobel said:

“The new levels of process control installed with improved monitoring, analysis, corrective action and communication are commendable and propel Kawneer to the highest current performance level within the industry for pre-treatment and process control.

“Involvement of staff at all levels giving increased awareness, responsibility and ownership for quality improvement is again commendable and appears to have been adopted positively throughout the plant.

“Upgrading of the laboratory with new test equipment will enhance the already high levels of quality control and capabilities that have been evident over the years of auditing at Kawneer.”

The report added:

“Looking ahead, the completion of Qualicoat Approved Applicator Status will further enhance Kawneer’s reputation within the industry.”

Gareth Jones, Continuous Improvement Manager for Kawneer, said:

“There are plenty of chrome-free solutions on the market so we trialled several and picked the one which best suits our processes. The highest quality is the driving focus so this new nano-technology solution has Qualicoat as well as GSB approval.

“We are not the first company in our industry to change over to chrome-free but our aim was to have the best-in-country pre-treatment plant and systems and indeed, the auditors have ranked our pre-treatments and control systems best-in-class. Customers will have increased confidence with the new process controls in place.”