March 2009 - During the past three decades, Nitrex Metal Inc., St.-Laurent, Quebec, has developed heat-treating processes for a variety of businesses. The company specializes in surface-treating procedures and has become one of the most recognizable names in the industry.
Case in point is that of Cosmos Aluminium, Larissa, Greece, a young aluminum extrusion company looking to install a turnkey nitriding system for its rapidly growing on-site facility. Hoping to eliminate the outsourcing element of its old heat-treating process, Cosmos sought out Nitrex, a company that has forged its sterling reputation by implementing exactly that type of upgrade. The theory is that Nitrex can streamline a company's entire operation and lighten the overall financial load.
Reaching out to the best
The motivation for Cosmos was not unlike that of any other manufacturer or service center: The integration of an in-house facility would give the company greater control over sales and deliveries, eventually resulting in improved efficiency and increased revenue. The key is to integrate the system in such a way that it doesn't disrupt the existing manufacturing environment.
"Our greatest concern wasn't the decision or the potential savings but how smoothly our currently operating equipment would transition," says Theodoros Kantonias, managing director at Cosmos. "Our confidence in Nitrex and their experience [with turnkey projects] never wavered."
Kantonias, the younger of two brothers who joined their father, Xenofon, in the company in 2006, also alluded to the fact that Cosmos' operation was in good shape in terms of efficiency. If it had a shortcoming prior to the upgrade, it was that its clientele had expanded too rapidly. By enlisting Nitrex, Cosmos was anticipating a spike in production because of a sudden surge of demand within the region.
"We are of the mindset that [we] must continuously innovate and upgrade," he says. "That is especially true during a time when much is being demanded of us."
Ultimately, Nitrex installed a system that combined preheating, nitriding, cooling and quenching processes. The result was a modular, multi-chamber furnace that allowed for customizable operation with a variety of stages.
More importantly for Cosmos, the solution was backed with extensive Nitrex support, meaning that should any complications or dissatisfactions arise, the system can be tweaked.
Production with the new system began in late December, and so far Cosmos has had few complaints. Efficiency and overall productivity have improved, Kantonias says, and the young firm's network is gradually expanding. MM