Tooling Transfer: Sampling Success
Fifteen steps to facilitate a smooth tool transfer between the OEM, new molder and your shop.
Last month, our colleague Mark Hanaway examined some tooling transfer issues and gave advice on how to receive tooling transfers in your facility. This article will examine why you should consider expanding your capabilities to include tryout/sampling facilities to accept tooling transfer work and how to ensure a smooth transition so that production in the molding plant will not be interrupted, which will increase your customers’ satisfaction.
Unfortunately, some molders that lose business are not cooperative when it comes to tool transfer issues. Generally they will not pass on CAD mold designs or 3-D surfaces. Many go as far to strip all information off of the molds—mold identification plaques, sequencing plaques, safety information, and even hardware such as electrical plugs, water and hydraulic hook-ups. This is typically not a friendly exchange as these molders are competitors as well.
These molders are understandably upset. They have invested a lot of time and money into part concessions, part development, secondary equipment, written processing, assembly, and preventive maintenance (PM) procedures. They have created and logged information such as best practices to make good assemblies. They have paid for tooling changes to increase productivity such as adding hydraulic ejection, hot manifolds and drops, quick change mold plates, and gating. It’s no wonder they are not happy about the transfers.
One way to improve the success of molds being transferred is to offer sampling/tryout capabilities to your customers. Once you accept a tool transfer, make sure you perform an initial tool inspection with the OEM and the new molder to go over initial condition of tool upon arrival from previous molder. This would be essential to gain an idea as to the extent as to which the new molder would like the tools and to get initial approval from the OEM if they are going to be paying for all transfer items, upgrades, or modifications.
Once you have the transfer mold in-house, sample each mold, and then perform preventive maintenance to provide a preliminary assessment of all the molds to be transferred. This would require the following:
- Ship all transfer molds to the mold builder, or have the mold builder pick them up from the current molding facility, and work out a fair cost sample and PM the molds. Make sure you find out the run time, temperatures and resins so you can achieve more success with the initial processing/molding of the parts. Work out a fair cost sample and PM the molds.
- Sample the mold prior to starting any work to review parts for additional polishing, sticky ribs, venting issues, flash, splay, etc.
- Make sure all safety systems, guards, safety straps, stand-offs and limit switches are in good working order to protect plant personnel from injuries and the mold from damage.
- During the sample a list could be developed of what items would need to be addressed or repaired on each mold and a process sheet made.
- During the PM the mold shop would carefully go through an extensive check list to review and take pictures of all the molds and make notes of any additional work that is needed on each specific mold.
- The list developed would note press equipment such as locating ring size, sprue radius, mold measurements (X x Y x Z) and weights.
- Get a description of all components such as hydraulic fittings, water fittings and many other items to accurately describe “conditions” of the mold to understand what may need to be changed to adapt the mold to its new molding facility.
- These “conditions” of change for each mold could be evaluated, quoted, and be reviewed for timing.
- The tools with the most extensive amount of issues could be reviewed and scheduled as needed after production parts are provided.
- Molds that are in better condition could be kept in service longer.
- Some minor repairs could be made during the PM process at the mold shop.
- Many times replacement of connectors, electrical, hydraulic and water could be changed to match the receiving plant at this time.
- If proper planning was done, QMC plates and other press related equipment also could be retrofitted.
- An accurate list of all replacement components could be made and these would be ordered and on the shelf waiting for repairs or refurbishments when the tool arrives.
- This could provide a good training program for toolmakers at the molding facility on how to PM a mold if the molding facility assigned toolmakers to assist the respective mold shop. This could reduce costs for this preliminary assessment work.
A Strategic Alliance
Mold manufacturers who want to accept tool transfers may realize an advantage by joining forces with other mold manufacturers. Since our two shops (H.S. Die and Engineering and United Tool and Mold) partnered seven years ago, we have been able to successfully help molders with any tooling problems that may arise during tool transfer.
In the past 20 years, our combined experience has increased dramatically from managing several successful tooling refurbishment programs—which extend the life of many programs. Working closely with our mold leaders has helped us all understand the importance of a preliminary assessment of each program. First sample each mold, and then do a complete preventative maintenance on them. These two tasks are the foundation that will allow the incumbent molder and the OEM who is transferring the tools to start out with some history—and be on the same page. This may be the only opportunity to open up each mold and review the current condition.
Offering a talented team of engineers, project managers, machinists, and bench hands, with facilities to tryout/sample each mold, will ease your customers’ minds that an experienced group of mold builders and technicians will evaluate the mold—and if needed—solve problems so they do not occur during initial part runs after the transfer. Adding sampling/tryout capabilities to your shop—or marketing these capabilities if you already have them—can help secure such tooling transfers.
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