What Have Been the Top 10 Challenges for the Moldmaking Industry this Past Decade?

Top 10 Challenges for the Moldmaking Industry this Past Decade.

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1. Foreign competition. Movement to go offshore for moldmaking services and the struggle with customer decisions to outsource offshore molds, dies and tooling against warnings of limited quality and damage to domestic moldmakers as well as the perception that it’s dramatically less expensive to have molds produced outside the U.S.

2. Price of molds and cost of manufacturing. Stagnating mold prices coupled with ever-increasing manufacturing costs. The effects
of global competition on mold prices and the toll that has taken on mold shops trying to survive. The market’s depressed pricing to the lowest common denominator of subsidized Asian capability.

3. Trying to automate and lean out the manufacturing process. Knowing where to begin when wanting to automate your shop. Understanding the true meaning and value of lean manufacturing. Getting someone to champion the lean cause and obtaining top-down management buy-in as well as companywide support.

4. Training and recruitment efforts. Labor is a constraint to growth and process improvement. How do we staff for the future with the limited pool of qualified labor? Lack of government and local support in teaching future generations the opportunities and value of this industry.

5. Technology investment. Trying to keep up with the advancements in technologies for producing molds (design, build and maintenance/repair). Lack of long-term business planning. No understanding of the true return on investment involving investing in technology. The fact that solely purchasing new technology without developing a good process will only ncrease the cost of your molds.

6. Reinventing how to build molds and identifying customer requirements. The “faster, better, cheaper” battle cry. The necessity for shops to transition to a process-driven manufacturer versus a trade. Getting a grasp of the value of standardization, specialization of operations, and identification and implementation of technology that supports the manufacturing process. Really listening to customers and collaborating upfront.

7. Managing growth and the cash requirements of today’s shop. Inability and/or unwillingness to change. The realization that being a good moldmaker by itself is no longer enough. Fearful of the equipment investments necessary to compete because of the balance that needs to be achieved between capital investment and return on investment and cash flow. Uncertainty of industry. Worsening customer payment terms.

8. Adding to your current customer base. The effects of corporate mergers, takeovers, downsizing and global competition on current customer and supplier relationships. Methods for finding new business. Sales and marketing strategies. Increasing shop capabilities to enter new and diverse markets. 

9. Implementing the change of culture from moldmakers to mold manufacturers.
Paying attention equally to the technology and business side of mold manufacturing. Changing the process from the top down to identify, educate and focus on what adds value and eliminates waste. Investing in a new process- and flow-driven construction strategy, along with new equipment and technology.

10. Metrics. Finding and using benchmarks. Identifying metrics to monitor the process. Industry participation/involvement to capture data from which we can measure ourselves.