If you are thinking about shifting your business to a new injection mold supplier, tread carefully. Transferring molds to new plastic injection molding companies should only be done after careful consideration and extensive deliberation. If the program is of considerable size, it might mean a shifting of millions of parts. It is certainly a challenging transition yet it can pay big dividends in terms of service, terms and pricing. Here’s how to facilitate the transfer process.
Where to Start: Changing Plastic Injection Molding Companies
Mold transfers require significant planning, especially if they are of considerable magnitude. Plan, communicate and expect the unexpected. Only ally with plastic injection molding companies that provide full disclosure and cooperation throughout the entirety of the relationship.
Mold transfers to new plastic injection molding companies will involve the receiving molder’s transfer program management group. This team consists of several professionals. The account manager is the individual with the final say. He coordinates and implements efforts. The account manager is also responsible for the budget. He has a thorough understanding of each group’s goals and helps deliver results on schedule.
The project manager is a team leader with considerable experience. He has his finger on the pulse of the engineering aspects of the project. The tooling engineer evaluates molds. He also generates the documentation necessary to implement improvements for the highest-quality end product. The process engineer guarantees molds are processed in a timely manner. The quality engineer evaluates parts, fixtures, gauges, part prints and beyond. He is also responsible for inspection reports and metrology instructions.
The Transfer Process
Be sure to stockpile a substantial amount of inventory to serve as a buffer while the transfer takes place. The transfer process to new plastic injection molding companies involves several phases. The transfer phases are as follows: The transfer commences with a detailed contractual agreement with the new plastic injection molding companies. The partnership is then formed. An on-site assessment is necessary to get a gauge as to the processes, materials, labor and other factors involved with mold production. A schedule for production is created. Safety stock, the purchase of equipment, validation and actual production molding round out the transfer process.
A written contractual agreement must be agreed to by both parties. This sets the legal groundwork for the subsequent business relationship. The contractual agreement’s information protects your company’s interests as well as those of the new plastic injection molding company. The contract must detail the deliverables in regard to quality, costs, service, delivery and subtleties like visual cosmetic standards.
Forming a partnership is essential to the project’s success. Define clear channels of communication so your team can interact with contacts at the new plastic injection molding company. Both groups should select professionals who are capable and willing to dedicate ample time to the project.
The On-Site Assessment
An in-depth on-site assessment must be performed to gain a full understanding of the current manufacturing operations. Otherwise, the transfer of processes to the new location will prove somewhat difficult. This assessment will require the project management transfer executives to work closely with the current molder to learn the production functions all the way from the order entry stage to shipment.
This is an extremely important step as it allows for a capturing of important information that otherwise might not be documented. In many instances, molds that have been operated for years by the same press and operators are overlooked. The details of such operations must be documented and fully understood before the transition takes place.
Everything from seemingly minor shortcuts to nuanced fix-ups must be noted and shared with management. There is nothing to gain from keeping such information a secret. Process engineers, toolmakers and other pertinent parties should be provided with the chance to observe operations and ask questions. If information is lost, false or incomplete, all sorts of trouble has the potential to arise when operations are transferred.
The Scheduling of the Transfer
A transfer schedule can be created following the gathering of information that took place during the on-site assessment. This is a team effort between both groups. Every mold, part and piece of production equipment will have a scheduled date for transfer.
The amount of safety stock necessary must be determined ahead of time. Ample safety stock should be collected so equipment and tools can be transferred and validated upon arrival at the new facility. It generally takes a month or two for this process to occur.
New Equipment Options
Research new equipment options. Examples of consignment equipment range from inspection gauges to fixtures, tooling, spares and beyond. The new molding company usually accepts maintenance responsibility for such items. It might also be necessary to add non-consigned equipment that is important to the production of transfer parts.
If the custom molder that is losing your company’s business is not downsizing or going out of business, injection molding machines used during production processes probably won’t be made available to the new molding company. In most instances, the rapid influx of molds will exceed the new molding company’s current capacity. As a result, new machines will have to be added. If molding machines are transferred to the new site, their age and condition should be reviewed to ensure mold production can meet the volume agreed upon in the contractual agreement.
The purpose of validation is to obtain customer approval for every part being produced at the new facility. A process based on “golden samples” is usually initiated. The process should be as flexible as possible as production controls unique to specific products might be necessary. Plenty of hands-on work like sampling, mold refurbishment and re-qualifying metrology must be performed in addition to an abundance of record keeping and documentation. The project managers of the custom molding company must maintain a focus on properly managing internal resources across all validation tasks.
The new molding company’s production staff begins producing the products according to the nuances of the contractual agreement following validation approval.
Every Step Counts
Each of the phases outlined above is essential to a seamless transfer. Though validation is clearly the most extensive of the stages, each plays an important part in shifting business to new plastic injection molding companies in a fluid manner. Follow these steps, pay attention to the subtleties of the process and you will find transferring molds to a new plastic injection molding company proves easier than expected.