HP&C was founded in 1988 in South Houston, Texas to provide electroless nickel plating services to energy equipment manufacturers. In subsequent years additional corrosion and wear protection finishing service lines (phosphate, a wide variety of corrosion protection spray coatings, and salt bath nitriding) were added to satisfy the majority of product finishing requirements of energy equipment OEMs. The company added a 2nd plant in Humble Texas in 2008, and now has 155 employees. Current executives include William Howard, CEO; Eric Turner, chief operating officer; Albert Landois, vice president of Production; and Tim Foster, Head of Maintenance.

The Company seeks to employ supply chain principles for the majority of its customers, which include companies from industries as diverse as firearms manufacturers and power generation manufacturers in addition to oil field equipment OEM’s, to differentiate itself from the typical job shop operation.

HP&C has been named one of the top 50 companies for both plating and coating in North American for 4 years, and in 2020 was named the overall best coating company.

HP&C positions itself as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for customers’ corrosion and wear protection needs offering an exceptionally broad range of plating and coating services with a new, patent pending process for plating high pressure gas cylinders. HP&C is new to the Industrial Gas Industry so the revenue at this point in negligible.

However, discussions with industry executives leads the company to conclude that there is a significant volume of cylinders that need to be plated annually, so HP&C are expecting it to become a significant part of their revenue stream in the coming years. In previous years, the availability of plated cylinders has been very limited, but HP&C processes dramatically improves that, so they are expecting that the overall use of plated cylinders will increase once it becomes known that now there are plenty of plated cylinders available.

In addition to plating the cylinders, HP&C understands that many other vessels used for storage, some many times the size of high-pressure cylinders, would benefit from nickel plating. Interestingly, their first job for the Industrial Gas Industry was not to plate a high-pressure cylinder, but to plate several very large storage tanks. The Ni-sideTM process, while developed for plating high-pressure cylinders, could theoretically be used to plate virtually any size vessel used in the industry.

HP&C strives to take the “friction” (delays) out of the finishing process through supply chain based customer service tailored to specific customer needs, and an unmatched commitment to quality.

Bill Howard, CEO, Houston Plating & Coatings

“The new cylinder plating business is a good example of that philosophy,” says William Howard, CEO of HP&C. “HP&C is talking with several customers about what we call “drop-shipping” where a company purchases cylinders from an OEM, who ships them directly to HP&C for plating rather than to the purchaser. Once they have been plated, we then ship the plated cylinders to the purchaser which eliminates transportation costs and speeds up the overall process. We have also discussed a program to store a very large quantity of cylinders for a customer and supply the company with just the number of plated cylinders that are needed each month.”

HP&C are in discussions with an OEM and their customers about potential supply chain principles that will speed up the process and cut overall costs; but some of those issues will become evident as they become more familiar with industry practices.

A key advantage is that HP&C has some of the largest EN tanks in the industry and can dedicate a full production line to the new cylinder plating processes; and, since HP&C’s new EN plating processes can plate many cylinders at one time, we can deliver a large quantity of plated cylinders at a significantly lower cost.

“From discussions we have had with industry executives, we understand that historically, using standard plating processes,” explains Howard, “the number of cylinders that could be plated in a standard day was very limited, only about five or six per day. Plating high-pressure gas cylinders is difficult because the very narrow opening into the cylinder as well as its configuration inhibits necessary solution flow. The processes and fixtures that we have developed can plate up to 72 cylinders in a standard day, however, the process is very scalable. It could be expanded exponentially, and theoretically, we could supply a virtually unlimited number of plated cylinders to the industry.”

HP&C Has Several Competitive Advantages

There are many companies that offer nickel plating, both electro plating and electroless plating, in the country but typically their tanks are relatively small, which limits the volume and the size of the parts that can be plated. With some of the largest tanks in the country and over 30 years of plating experience, HP&C offers unique advantages for many of its customers.

For instance, a power generation company in Pennsylvania was experiencing over 70 percent failure rate of its plated parts which are indeed very difficult to plate due to a number of issues. The HP&C plating team devised new fixtures and procedures and achieved a 100 percent plating accuracy.

Other Advantages to EN

EN can also be used to repair mis-machined or damaged parts that would otherwise be scrapped. HP&C’s electroless nickel deposition process can often rescue these parts through rebuilding internal or outside diameters to the required tolerances with additional nickel plating.

Extra nickel may correct a part that was mis-machined and slightly out of tolerance save the part. Interestingly though, if moisture removal of a polished cylinder is easier than with an unpolished cylinder then one possible solution to the polishing step could be to increase the nickel thickness.

Key Message to Industrial Gas Producers and Distributors

“HP&C has been been successfully plating energy equipment and other manufactured parts for every major energy OEM, including Baker Oil Tools, Schulmberger, Halliburton, SPX, and Cameron, for over 30 years,” says Howard. “We have no reservations about our ability to deliver not only the highest quality but a significantly increased volume of plated cylinders to the industrial gas industry, and we look forward to becoming a valued and trusted member of the industrial gas industry supply chain.”

For more information, visit www.houstonplating.com