Driving Maintenance Forward
Many who build production molds are increasingly making recommendations to those running their tools, and providing the means to monitor and track that activity to get the most out of their initial investment.
When purchasing a new company truck, one would ensure that the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations are precisely followed by company personnel. Those recommendations are provided by the manufacturer so that the vehicle performs to expectations; otherwise, the company’s brand is diminished.
A far greater company asset is its injection mold tooling. However, an equal amount of diligence is not consistently applied throughout the industry.
To miss any recommended scheduled maintenance activities likely means costly downtime and repairs are ahead. Along with the financial impact, finger pointing puts the future of the relationship at risk.
Like manufacturers in virtually every other industry, many who build production molds are increasingly making recommendations to those running their tools, and providing the means to monitor and track that activity to get the most out of their initial investment.
Cavaform International (St. Petersburg, FL) provides its customers with guidelines for caring for the molds they build, along with a means of monitoring maintenance activity.
“With each tool we include an assembly and disassembly procedure manual with schedules for maintenance and cleaning,” explains Chuck Massie, Cavaform’s vice president. “Also, we include a CD or video for a visual representation of how to maintain the mold.”
Manuals and instructional videos are great—if the molder actually uses them at the specified cycles.
New advancements in mold monitoring now alert not only the molder, but also the moldmaker, if maintenance points are being missed. The CVe Monitor™ system, developed by AST Technology GmbH, allows proper attention by all who are concerned for the tool’s continuous productivity.
Comprehensive Mold Monitoring
The CVe Monitor not only counts, but allows the mold builder to enter the recommended cycle count for the initial maintenance point and the recommended cycle count for subsequent maintenance points. It also contains a flash drive memory for storing maintenance manuals and videos.
“We’re starting to specify the CVe Monitor as a standard on our molds,” Massie explains. “We see it as complementing our maintenance manuals because it tracks the data we need to ensure that our molds are being cared for as they should be for the best performance. There’s no questioning whether counts are missed or something is being misinterpreted. It’s beneficial to both Cavaform and our customers.”
The CVe Monitor connects with CVe OnDemand™ software, a free program that generates two distinctly different reports. The Mold Performance Summary is comprised of several graphs that chart various factors, including points at which actual maintenance was performed compared to targeted points. The Activity Log lists each action that was performed by the molder’s toolroom personnel, anytime they connect to the CVe as per specifications in the plant’s work instructions. Together, these reports provide an understanding as to what was done, by whom and when.
If the molder/mold builder relationship is a collaborative one, reports can be sent periodically to the mold builder.
Dave McLachlan, toolroom leader at Rayconnect International SAS (Rochester Hills, MI), confirms the benefits of the CVe Monitor from a molder’s perspective, saying, “What we’ve been trying to do for a long time is get better a understanding, through better record-keeping, about our tooling maintenance. We want to be on top of our PM’s by being proactive rather than reactive. The CVe enables us to do that.
“We have 200 tools here,” he adds. “When you consider all the valuable data we can download from this system, it is well worth integrating it into our systems. It’s been one of the hardest things to do—track all the activity from tooling. The CVe now is making it better for all of us on the shop floor.”
McLachlan points out another benefit Rayconnect is gaining by use of the CVe Monito—a paperless data storage system.
“The CVe is directly in line with our company’s target initiative to reduce our carbon footprint,” he explains. “Using the CVe to record comprehensive mold data that can then be downloaded into a computer file for safe keeping is one more way that we can save a lot of trees.”
A poorly maintained mold will result in a poor performing tool, and that molder will likely turn to a different mold builder for that next tooling investment. For a company such as Cavaform, with customers in 35 countries, it is clearly in their interest as well as in their customers’ interests, for a mold with the Cavaform name on it to perform to expectations.
While manufacturers’ recommendations have long been followed for an asset such as a company truck, a new system is now in place that recommends care for your more valuable fleet of tools.
Tom Knight is an Application Engineer at AST Technology GmbH of Herford Germany.
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