What you need to know about transferring molds
Transferring plastic injection tools from one molder to another is a major undertaking, with many variables to consider. But there are several steps you can take to help ensure that they go smoothly.
Here’s what you need to think about, based on three potential scenarios.
Scenario #1: Your existing molder is going out of business
If you encounter this scenario, you must move quickly while at the same time managing your risk and expectations. Start by assessing the bench depth of the prospective molders you’re considering:
- Do they have the capacity available to take on the production of your parts?
- Can they help you procure the material you need?
- How well are they equipped to accommodate your requirements?
- Do they have an accelerated process for part validation to ensure that their initial samples meet your specifications?
- Do they have a proven process for managing tooling transfers to help ensure that the move goes as smoothly as possible?
- How do they validate the condition of the mold, sample initial parts production and accommodate any secondary processes your parts may require?
You also need to work with your current molder to build up a safety stock of parts that is large enough to cover the time you’re out of production. For best results, create a special control plan for the transition that includes a daily sampling of parts from your existing molder.
Why? Because often, quality begins to slip once the existing molder realizes you’re moving your business to another supplier. You can’t afford to have inferior-quality parts making it into your finished products.
New Berlin Plastics’ advantage: We have developed a detailed process to ensure that tool transfers happen smoothly. Our highly disciplined LaunchLogic process enables us to get new parts into production quickly, which means you don’t need to bank as many parts. That saves you money and helps to mitigate risk. This process is also designed to handle multiple tool transfers at once, so we can bring more of your parts into production faster.
Scenario #2: You need to move your tools because you’re dissatisfied with your molder’s part quality
In many ways, this is the most difficult scenario. Tool transfers may be peaceful or hostile, depending upon the attitude of your existing molder. They can be hostile in the sense that the existing molder may not be willing to provide your new supplier with detailed tool and processing information, such as the mold CAD files, PPAP and last shot data.
In most cases, the more data we have access to, the better. But we’re also realistic. Many molders aren’t willing to share detailed production data because it can provide competitors like us with insights into their proprietary processes. If this occurs, New Berlin Plastics is well equipped to successfully onboard transfer tooling despite the lack of this data.
New Berlin Plastics’ advantage: Our on-site tool room has a wealth of experience at assessing the condition of molds, repairing them and getting them into production as quickly as possible. We’ll also work closely with you to assess your production requirements and cost drivers so we can provide you with a cost-effective solution that meets your needs.
In most cases, if you can provide us with a target price range for your project, it will help us to develop a recommended approach that is cost-effective and meets your needs.
Scenario #3: Strategic supply base rationalization
Often, large OEMs transfer parts to increase the efficiency of their supply chain, moving their production closer to where they’re consumed.
Under these circumstances, we recommend that you group your parts by material type. This tends to streamline the transfer process because all the parts have similar processing requirements. It also enables us to negotiate better material prices with our suppliers based on volume.
Tips to help ensure a smooth transfer
No matter what your scenario, there are a number of things you can do to help ensure a smooth transfer from your existing molder to a new supplier:
Share as much information as possible: The more data you can provide to your new molder, the better. PPAP data is invaluable.
Be flexible and cooperative: In any tool transfer, surprises come up. Challenges occur. Be realistic about how you and your new molder will handle them.
Lack of documentation is a common problem with tool transfers. For example, the mold may have been changed so many times over the years that it no longer resembles the tool CAD drawings.
Overseas tools can also be problematic. Often, they don’t have adequate documentation and may need to be modified before bringing your parts into production. We’ll work closely with you to ensure that your tooling can reliably produce your parts to spec over the life of their production run.
When you need to transfer tools to a new molder, look for one with proven processes that are designed to anticipate and mitigate common problems, plus in-house expertise that can help you efficiently work through bigger issues and challenges.
To learn more about our proprietary LaunchLogic process, download our free eGuide. It explains how we’ve been able to achieve a 98% on-time launch track record over 100 simultaneous open customer projects.
At New Berlin Plastics, we’re continually reinvesting in our business to meet and exceed your expectations. Why not contact us about your next tool transfer project?