In 1960, AHC was founded by Ulrich Reininghaus and Herbert Friebe in Mülheim, Cologne, Germany. It took months before the first orders came in, but then business increased sharply. A new, generously proportioned production site was needed, and it was found in Kerpen, in the Rhineland, Germany. Since then, the Kerpen plant has been regarded as the main AHC plant and has been joined by the administration, IT, research and development (R&D), and facility planning departments.
Today, the Kerpen plant has 115 employees and coats technical components for around 2,700 active clients, primarily from the mechanical engineering and automotive sectors.
Hard anodising (HART-COAT®) and electroless nickel coating (DURNI-COAT®) are the standard processes. The SILA-COAT® 5000 process, an anodic dip coating to increase alkaline resistance, and the HC large part unit (HC-GTA) are special features of the Kerpen plant.
The facility operates a five-day week in a 3-shift operation, with Saturday as a back-up day. Three apprentices are accepted each year, with two as surface coaters, while the third may work in the workshop or shipping department.
The components to be coated previously came from mechanical engineering, but the automotive industry now has a good amount of influence on the business, with 40% of turnover coming from this sector.
In the HART-COAT® (HC) range, all types of housings are coated, including valves, filters, fans, and washing machines. In addition, there are components such as gears and engine pistons, cooling units for exhaust gas recirculation, clutch parts, guide rails for product distribution systems, and rollers for the paper and film industry.
In the DURNI-COAT® (DNC) range, there are components such as clutch hubs, needles for carburettors, secondary rotors for compressors, pump parts for automotive air-conditioning systems, technical springs, and test rims.
AHC plant manager Ralf Nott said: "We have a relatively large workshop that keeps the equipment in good shape and also makes the majority of the racks required for the coating. This gives us the necessary availability, flexibility and speed. Special racks are also made, for example, to cool castings that could overheat during the coating process.
"Thanks to our workshop skills, we can react more quickly to customer requirements."
The HC-GTA was newly built almost ten years ago. Here, large parts such as rollers, pipes, profiles or the aforementioned guide rails for product distribution systems are hard coated.
AHC sales manager Olaf Igelbrinck: "The handling, masking and clamping of large components is very demanding. In addition, there are hardly any competitors who are capable of hard anodising parts up to 8m in length."
A large warehouse allows for the storage of large parts as well as parts for call orders such as for automotive suppliers.
AHC quality assurance (QA) manager Helmut Lohmar explains that 35,000 orders are processed annually and that he is proud of the fact that the complaint rate is less than 0.5%.
Lohmar stated: "Awareness of good work quality exists throughout the entire team. The effort spent on documentation for coating processes has steadily increased in recent years, not least due to more orders from the automotive industry. You have to be able to rely on your team. Handling complaints requires even more work than taking care of the original orders."