Customer feedback fuels quick turnaround for last-minute orders
February 2012 - Bottlenecks slow down operations and lengthen lead times, which can result in customers choosing to obtain material from other sources. To remain competitive, it is necessary to upgrade equipment to eliminate these types of issues, ensuring orders are completed on-time and are of the utmost quality.
Centria Coating Services, Moon Township, Pa., has invested millions of dollars in capital upgrades, such as a new slitter and leveler, in Cambridge, Ohio, along with a state-of-the-art electrical upgrade to its coating line.
“Frequent and candid customer feedback has directed our capital spending and supported the growth of our business,” says Jim Dockey, director of coating services at Centria. “Our improved secondary processing is a perfect example of that. Before our new slitter and leveler in Cambridge, we’d paint the order on a short lead time, but the bottleneck at our slitter would negatively impact our service levels. We try to spend our capital where it will most improve our service or quality and further satisfy our customers,” he says.
Drexel Metals has worked with Centria and the company’s paint lines in Cambridge and Ambridge, Pa., since 1995. “We’ve had a great year,” says Brian Partyka, president of Drexel Metals Inc., Ivyland, Pa. “We supply painted metal that’s being regionally manufactured into metal roof systems.” Drexel Metals needs quick turnaround to meet the company’s “metal roofing on demand” go-to-market strategy, says Partyka. “Centria can turn around orders for us, and they offer fantastic quality controls. They can produce small custom orders that others cannot,” he adds.
According to Partyka, Centria takes Drexel’s bare Galvalume and aluminum coils and paints them to Drexel Metals’ specifications. “Centria keeps the Drexel Metals paint made by AkzoNobel in inventory to quickly process our paint runs,” he says.
Centria provides Drexel Metals with toll coating, the process of applying pretreatments, primers and topcoats to Drexel’s steel. “It’d be too expensive to paint post-production in-field due to limitations: weather conditions, cost, overspray, etc.,” Partyka says. Drexel Metals can fill minimum orders of 2,500 pounds and orders that are 19,000 tons or 38 million pounds. “Centria gives me the flexibility to go after those orders,” he continues. “They provide a great service for the supply of prepainted metals for multiple industries, [including] metal building products, truck body [and] appliances, which saves us the hassle of dealing with a lot of maintenance and regulation issues.”
Partyka adds Centria helps companies be eco-friendly, limiting manufacturing’s impact on the environment by working with suppliers implementing sustainability practices. Drexel Metals uses polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) coatings, “which is a lot like Teflon. It has great weathering properties” for roofing manufacturing, Partyka says.
“Using a toll coater, such as Centria, allows us to react to our customers’ needs,” says Cameron Clark, coil sales division of Louisville, Ky.-based Midwest Metals Corp. “ We have the option to coat small or critical orders in a short amount of time.” The types of coatings Centria applies to Midwest Metals’ materials can vary.
“Centria has been a key partner in the growth of our business by responding to our needs as a customer,” says Clark. “Many of our customers specify their own paint system depending on the end-use application,” Clark says. “Most of our business with Centria involves polyester, epoxy and PVDF paint systems.”
Eric Morgan, director of operations of Reynoldsburg, Ohio-based Dimensional Metals Inc., says business is steady but the company anticipates 2012 being another challenging year. The economy has weakened the construction industry overall, affecting business. Centria paints aluminum coils for Dimensional Metals, including Galvalume coated steel using PVDF.
“Having our steel or aluminum coils painted is the last step in our supply chain, and on-time delivery is key to maintaining our stocking inventory needs,” Morgan says. Centria helps Dimensional Metals fill various-sized orders for the company’s stocking and nonstocking colors, “within our lead times,” he adds.
Dimensional Metals’ products are all produced from prepainted steel and aluminum coil. Toll painting is the last step in the process. According to the company’s website, Dimensional Metals produces prefinished architectural metal, tension-leveled coil and flat sheet coated with 70 percent full-strength Kynar 500 or Hylar 5000 finish systems.
Morgan agrees Centria processes orders in a timely fashion. “They have good people who work there and have a vested interest in the business,” Morgan says. “Centria is a coil coater, and while there are a lot out there, Centria’s quality is consistently good, and consistency is very important to us.”
Partyka agrees, noting Centria’s employees, “from the guys in the plant through the guys in their corporate office,” are all accessible. “As a customer, [it’s important] having that direct access to the head of the coil-coating division, a direct line to their plant manager or president, who always treat you like a respected client,” he says, adding it is reassuring to know that as a customer, Drexel Metals has “a partner standing right alongside of us,” Partyka says.
Centria’s unique coil-coating business model reflects the customer feedback it receives from surveying clients a few times a year. “I think the theme of our business model is to understand our customers’ needs and be responsive to their feedback,” says Dockey.
Drexel Metals’ “on-demand regional manufacturing business strategy” requires expedited turnaround, according to Partyka. “Centria’s ability to provide step-by-step online updates on production status is another key benefit to doing business with [the company’s] CCS division,” he says.
Centria offers weekly time blocks to its customers, allowing them to advise what should be coated. “We communicate with Centria on a daily basis to ensure that our most critical orders are prioritized for our weekly time block,” Clark says.
The company’s understanding of its customers’ evolving needs led to the development of the latest e-Centria upgrade. The result is the company’s new mobile phone application where customers can see everything live in real time. “The technology behind the mobile app is unique. The culture of our company is to understand our customers’ needs better and understand how we can always respond to their unique desires. The survey asks what aren’t we doing and what we could do better. In the end, we are able to develop very strong, loyal customer relationships,” Dockey says.
Flexibility has been a major component to the success of the partnership between Centria and Midwest Metals, says Clark. “To know that Centria will adjust their production schedule to fit our needs gives us an important flexibility with our customers.”
Centria’s model promotes customers painting smaller quantities with higher quality and with shorter lead times, allowing for scheduling flexibility.
“We will block line hours for customers so they know they are covered for that week. They may not tell us until the last minute what they need,” Dockey says. He says competitors often “tell you when the run is happening, and if you miss it, they have to get back to you when the next run is taking place. We try to schedule by the customer’s requirements so they can best manage their inventory,” Dockey adds. “No one wants to have too much inventory because there is too much volatility on aluminum and steel,” Dockey continues. “They want to keep the paint wet, so to speak.” MM