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Plating Quality Declines On Friday
Plating Quality Declines On Friday
An electroplating line was running 24/7. Suddenly one Friday quality began to falter. What was the root cause?
Mysteries of Science

Dr. Gilleo
Mysteries of Science by Dr. Ken Gilleo
Dr. Gilleo is a chemist, inventor and general problem solver. Ken has been tracking industrial forensics and collecting case histories for decades. These cases are taken from the vast world of industry and commercial enterprise.

Check out Dr. Gilleo's eBook, 100 Mysteries Solved by Science. We hope you enjoy these case histories. You need not be an engineer or scientist to understand the problems and appreciate the solutions.

An electroplating line was running 24/7. The building was not air conditioned and would get very hot during the day. Several garages doors would be opened for ventilation and large floor fans helped a little, but the heat was often insufferable. 

The products were all running well, including printed circuit boards from nearby shops that tended to need more capacity on bigger orders. Suddenly one month the quality of the boards began to falter and a thin metal deposit was the main complaint. 

This drop off in quality could not be tied to any specific event. However, Fridays seemed to be the day when everything went wrong. Tests were conducted to see if the concentrations were correct. 

On Friday the supervisor noticed a garden hose in the plating tank being used to add water.

What did this hose have to do with the quality problems the company was experiencing? 

Here's the rest of the story.

The operator in this area said that 10 to 25 gallons evaporated every day, and he tried to keep the level at the full mark. He figured the hose was the simplest way to do this. 

What is so special about today, asked the boss?

Are you kidding, Fridays are always frantic because we need to wrap up loose ends and get back orders out, was the response.

Just then the operator got an urgent request form a coworker for help and apologized for running off. 

The supervisor then noticed that the tank was overflowing as the unattended hose kept running.

The plating bath was being over diluted resulting in thin plating.

Once again if the event is tied to a certain day or time, follow that clue.

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