“If it moves, you duct-tape it. If it squeaks, you WD-40 it. If it’s stuck, you hit it with a hammer.”
This quote from the TV cop series “Blue Bloods” helped Tom Selleck’s character, NYPD Police Commissioner Frank Reagan, unravel the mystery of a decades-old cold case and bring a child killer to justice.
That may be all well and good for solving crimes on TV cop shows, but it’s no way to maintain molds. Yet in many plants in North America, it is, more or less, that quote that exemplifies the standard operating procedure for keeping machine and molds running parts.
Many molders in North America operate in what’s termed a “run-to-fail” mode. That is, they run the machine and mold, until, well, it can’t be run anymore. In other words, they beat it up until it surrenders.
In an article that ran in the April issue of Plastics Technology magazine, Lyle Sharratt, a field service manager for injection molding machinery supplier Absolute Haitian, put it like this: “In most molding plants, the production manager and the maintenance manager conduct an ongoing fight for machine time. Since production generates revenue and maintenance is considered overhead, maintenance often loses this battle. Routine maintenance on molding machines is slighted due to production requirements—until, that is, the machine breaks down.” While Sharratt was writing specifically about machines, it’s really no different where molds are concerned.
There’s got to be a better way. There is a better way. Sharratt, who estimates he’s brought his toolbox to more than 4,000 injection molding plants across a career that has spanned more than 40 years, thinks so too. “Plant managers would be well served to think of maintenance in a new way—as a profit center,” he says. “A well-maintained, fast-running machine may save seconds of cycle time and contribute to your profitability.”
That shouldn’t be too hard to understand. A well-run preventive maintenance program can actually help you make money.
In this fourth annual Mold Maintenance and Repair Supplement, the editors of sister publications MoldMaking Technology and Plastics Technology have teamed to provide tips and techniques, insights, and best practices aimed at keeping your molds humming and your customers happy. Because when your press is down and your mold is being pulled to solve a problem that’s been lingering for weeks and months, you’re not making parts and you’re not making money. You are, however, making a customer mad. Who wants that?
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Steve Johnson, president of MoldTrax, has a lot to say about mold maintenance. So much so, that we could not fit it all into his February "Maintenance Matters" column. Here are some extra pointers that didn't make the cut, but are just as important.