With so much discussion around how mold maintenance shops need to adopt a six-sigma, leaner, more proactive approach to maintain global competitiveness, why in the world would anyone want to continue to pour money and resources into the “run to failure” approach? Because it’s so easy.
It’s the nature of the challenge. In a react-ive culture, your objective has already been spelled out. You know where the fire is...you just need to put it out...anyway you can. In other words, you know what your job is.
When a mold goes down, the question of “What should I focus on?” has been clearly defined. No discussion is necessary to understand that the goal is to get the mold up and running as quickly as possible by attacking the problem head first—versus root cause first—and to do whatever is necessary to get production going.
Managing in a Reactive Environment
For the manager or supervisor of a reactive mold maintenance shop, there are no goals to be accountable for, defects to reduce or eliminate, because no quantifiable means exists to accurately measure shop, mold or employee performance data. Managerial performance is graded more on the amount of heartburn suffered by process and production personnel whenever a mold breaks down. It takes little planning when a mold goes down to offer up a few homegrown quick-fix ideas, then sit back, open the company wallet, and rely on your repair techs to patch it up and send it back. And if it runs, simply cast a knowing wink when congratulated on the quick fix. Reactive mold management is as easy as it gets.
Working in a Reactive Environment
And for the repair tech? Repair methods and root cause analysis don’t matter much at this point either. Things like craftsmanship, professionalism, systematic approaches or doing it right the first time will take a backseat to speed. The kudos from quickly getting a mold back into production will overshadow why the mold broke down in the first place and the visibility of the product will dictate the size of the hero cookie a repair technician can claim through a quick turnaround. This gleeful back-slapping and cookie-eating makes for an attractive elixir to fostering and maintaining an expensive reactionary environment.
But if the smoke ever clears, what you are left with are molds being made more unreliable with every run/repair cycle in inef-
ficient shops that cost companies thousands of dollars each year through unscheduled downtime and inaccurate repairs.
The Alternative? … Data
Using data as your compass will allow you to head off issues before they become issues. Six-sigma, lean, kaizen and all other forms of waste elimination/reduction cultures that focus on process improvement rely on data versus memory to target waste and set goals.
Data will tell you, among other things:
- That your memory isn’t as good as it once was
- Unscheduled mold stop reasons and costs
- Your most frequent mold or part defect and costs
- Your molds with the highest maintenance costs
- Effective (or not) corrective actions taken and costs
- Employee skill levels and costs
- Process issues with press, mold or personnel and costs
Okay, so now you have acquired an electronic maintenance package that your techs are comfortable with and have begun to collect data. Now what do you do with it? Use it. Every shift, every day on every mold that is subject to the run/repair cycle. Learning the specific characteristics of every mold in your shop is paramount for creating accurate maintenance plans and reliable molds.
A mold shop manager and repair technician should know the answers to basic questions that will allow the creation of an accurate maintenance plan based on the immediate last production run and historical past performances.
Basic Proactive Maintenance Plan for Repair Technicians
A basic maintenance plan should provide, at minimum, direction for short-term objectives:
- What part(s)/defect(s) need to be corrected from the last run (block-offs, non-conformance)?
- What part/s defects (last shot) are close to being quality issues and need addressed (normally anything over 1/2 the flash spec needs to investigated for historical growth and monitored at subsequent repairs)?
- Based on cycles or hours run, what level of mold disassembly, inspection and cleaning is due?
- Specifically what cavity and frame tooling should be replaced now and what wear areas need to be either visually inspected or measured?
A Comprehensive Proactive Maintenance Plan for Repair Technicians
The best maintenance plan quickly provides the technician more in-depth knowledge of historical issues and corrective actions, and allows them to monitor ongoing issues at every repair that can be classified, targeted and measured for improvement or elimination. This type of plan promotes continuous mold improvement systematically by increasing mold knowledge, which dramatically increases the skill level of repair technicians. Skilled repair technicians see, feel and analyze tooling fit and wear issues influenced by a variety of operating conditions every day. They are in constant inspection mode during all stages of repair. Figuring out the how, why and when of the tooling wear puzzle is made easier when you know results of that wear.
No repair technician can implement an efficient and accurate C/R on a mold unless they are aware of all mold issues. And they will not be aware without data that clearly demonstrates:
- How many X-Unscheduled mold stops or pulls did this mold suffer in the last six production runs? Since the mold began production at your facility?
- What were they and was the resolution effective, standardized and documented?
- What is the mold’s most costly problem (tooling, labor hours and combined) in the past six months, million cycles or 4,000 hrs of run time? Since the mold began production at your facility?
- What is the most frequent part defect? Is the corrective action effective and for how long? Has the corrective action been standardized and documented in the maintenance manual?
- What is the most frequent mold defect or issue? Is the corrective action ef-fective and for how long? Has the cor-
rective action been standardized and documented in the maintenance manual?
An Even Bigger Picture
Managers, supervisors of mold shops and responsible tooling engineers should always be aware of the above information so they may be of help to the technician when creating a repair plan. But when not helping with this, and when the fires are out for the moment, they should constantly monitor from the 30,000 foot view of their shop. To accurately budget tooling cost requirements in both the short and long term, help the cost accountants create accurate router goals and pricing figures, help the schedulers schedule, and to better manage employees, it is helpful to know:
- What is the maintenance cost per hour of run time of all your active molds by mold, part or product? (Maintenance Costs Per Hour—Total Tooling and Labor Costs divided by the Total Hours of Production over a given time frame).
- What is a mold’s most costly problem (tooling, labor hours and combined) in the past six months, million cycles or 4,000 hrs of run time? Since the mold began production at your facility?
- What is the typical repair time for this mold? By employee?
- How is the time spent? Cleaning, implementing corrective actions, laborious fitting procedures, etc.
- Is this a one-man mold? (Same tech always repairs it).
- Is further cross-training required for variety of technician exposure?
- Typical tooling costs over specified hours of production.
- Typical labor costs over specified hours of production.
A good place to begin is by establishing scheduled and unscheduled mold stop or pull reasons.
The sample Mold Stop Report (see Chart 1) is the most basic area to begin data tracking.
The list of Scheduled mold stops shows where your money is going. But just because the stop is scheduled does not mean you can’t improve a situation.
Notice the amount of money spent on labor just to change the 6-472 over to small thread configuration in a year’s time. That much money could easily justify purchasing a second plate, complete with the wafers installed. Then you could simply install the plate and cut the labor hours by 75 percent.
The X-Unscheduled mold stops speak for themselves. Red font indicates process-related problems and the blue font represents maintenance generated issues. Degraded Material issues could be reduced by incorporating proper manifold banking procedures. The Mold Damage events need to be investigated individually with each case analyzed for root cause.
This is only a sample of the power of accurate data when making repair decisions. When you have this type of information available, it makes it easy to see exactly where a manager needs to focus shop attention when the fires aren’t burning. Set realistic goals and go after the simplest problems one at a time. Before you know it, the amount of unscheduled freak outs will diminish, and you will find 80 to 90 percent of your maintenance work will be scheduled.
|Mold Stop Reason||Stop Count||CA
|Scheduled Mold Stops|
|C/R & Rack - Run Complete
|C/R to 6-472 small thread
|C/R & Run
|C/R to 6-472 Large thread
|C/R to 7-405A (20mm Wafer)
|Clean Only & Run
|C/R to 7-405B (20mm Wafer)
|See Maintenance Instructions||1||3||1.5||$75.00||$0.00||$75.00|
|Unscheduled Mold Stops|
|X-Internal Water Leak
|X-Ejector Plate Won't Function
|X-Residue Leaching Out||4||6||31.75||$1,587.50||$0.00||$1,587.50|
|X-External Oil Leak||1||3||17.5||$875.00||$45.00||$920.00|
|X-Incorrect Mold Assembly||3||4||12||$600.00||$4,300||$643.00|
|X-Metal in Gate||3||4||8||$400.00||$234.00||$634.00|
|X-External Water Leak||1||1||4||$200.00||$67.00||$267.00|
|X-Mold Won't Close||1||1||4||$200.00||$43.00||$243.00|
|Chart courtesy of MoldTrax.|