Leadtime League: What Makes Commercial Tool & Die a Winner
Thinking about entering the 2019 Leadtime Leader Awards competition? Read about Commercial Tool & Die Inc. (large shop winner from 2008 and 2009) for inspiration. Commercial Tool specializes in the design, manufacturing, repair and maintenance of plastic injection molds. It managed to stay successful through industry ups and downs by stepping up the quality of its molds.
Commercial Tool & Die Inc. (Comstock Park, Michigan) took home the large-shop Leadtime Leader titles in 2008 and 2009. The company says that quality, innovation and continuous efforts to improve were key drivers in taking the title back-to-back during difficult economic times.
A Little History
Commercial Tool & Die Inc. was founded by Al Bouwman in 1953. His son Doug took an active position with the company in 1979. Commercial Tool—together with CG Plastics and CG Automation—provides fixtures, special machinery, custom molding and sampling, as well as plastic injection molds.
Commercial Tool has managed to stay successful through industry ups and downs by stepping up the quality of its molds, according to then vice president of Operations, Todd Finley. “Several of our competitors have set up off-shore alliances to blend programs,” Finley says. “Our response has been to shower our customers with quality. We made a large investment in high-speed machining centers. This investment helps us reduce EDM, spotting and benching operations to improve quality and reduce lead times. We also are developing our own off-shore alliances.”
Initiatives in Innovation
Examples of the company’s innovations and initiatives at the time include:
- Integrating its design software with its accounting and purchasing processes,
- Utilizing feature-based recognition to automate CAM programs
- Improving equipment utilization through machine-monitoring software
- Utilizing a one-of-a-kind, in-house apprenticeship program (CTU) certified by the United States Department of Labor
- Deploying a team approach and problem-solving concepts throughout the organization
Valve gate installations must be made to manufacturer specs to obtain the advantages necessary for competitive production of injection molded parts in today’s marketplace.
A Series of International Standards for Quality Management and Quality Assurance
Using aluminum tooling instead of traditional tools steels reduces cycle time and costs, but requires up-front, open communications between moldmaker, molder, material supplier and hot runner manifold supplier.