International hard coatings specialist Hardide Coatings, which has a production facility in Virginia, USA, has hailed a successful holiday season after solving a wear issue that was slowing the processing of letters throughout the United Kingdom.

Ahead of a busy Christmas 2017, Hardide Coatings worked with Royal Mail in the UK to extend the life of essential deflector plates on dozens of sorting machines, helping to keep the large volume of mail moving.

A total of 69 sorting machines, which can each process up to 40,000 items per hour, were installed with Hardide-coated deflector plates.

The coarse nature of paper envelopes means that the plates, manufactured in 304 stainless steel, are subject to continuous levels of subtle abrasive wear. This was resulting in burrs forming on the trailing edge of the plates which was causing Royal Mail both replacement cost and safety concerns. They were replacing the plates every 4-6 months to prevent burring and this quickly became costly due to machine downtime and the purchasing of new parts. The plates were also causing the potential for injury of the machine operators if they drew a hand across a trailing edge on which a burr had formed.

Hardide-T CVD (chemical vapor deposition) tungsten carbide coating was used across the stock after testing proved it offered a longer lasting solution compared with original equipment manufacturer and stainless-steel alternatives.

Mark Jordan, National Asset Lifecycle Manager for Royal Mail Central Engineering, commented: “Hardide-T was everything I wanted in a hard coating. With test results showing almost no wear on the deflector plate, it means I can expect not to touch it for up to five years. Hardide-T offers a far superior level of initial wear resistance, a continued level of protection over time and a many-fold extension of component life.”

Philip Kirkham, CEO of Hardide Coatings said, “Royal Mail had previously endured safety and downtime costs associated with the wear on the deflector plates. A maintenance programme was in place which meant regular replacement of the plates.

“The use of the Hardide-T coating has enabled Royal Mail to reduce the scheduled replacement of the deflector, allowing the machines to run for longer and process more mail.”

In testing, the plates coated with the Hardide-T processed 50% more items than hard chrome plated alternatives and 255% more items than the OEM parts.

Royal Mail and Hardide Coatings are currently working on the development and testing of two more high-wear parts for sorting machine applications.

Customers for Hardide coatings include leading companies operating in oil and gas exploration and production, valve and pump manufacturing, precision engineering and aerospace industries. The company has manufacturing facilities in Oxfordshire, UK and Virginia, USA.

Hardide Coatings is a Hardide plc (AIM: HDD) group company. For more information, visit

By Hardide Coatings