To compete at the highest levels of Formula 1 racing, your team must mine the data the car generates to make informed decisions about optimizing its performance. Formula 1 teams employ the best tools, people and strategies to wring every ounce of speed and handling out of their finely-tuned machine and its driver.
Not surprisingly, the same approach applies to high-performance project launches in the plastic injection molding industry. The best molders employ cutting-edge tools, processes and teamwork to help ensure that project launches flow smoothly – like a Formula 1 car deftly powering through the curves and hills of a demanding road course.
Here are some of the common characteristics that molders must have to compete at this level:
1. A culture of reinvestment
Molders that are committed to high-performance project launches invest in their people, processes and equipment on a regular basis, with a systematic process of ongoing evaluation and correction if needed. Their work processes are subject to continuous improvement.
High-performance molders also update and replace molding machinery as needed to ensure that they are able to hold tight tolerances and can produce high-quality parts, quickly and consistently. They know that maintaining a fleet of high-performing machines is essential to being a high-performing supplier.
Finally, high-performance molders invest in their people. In order for them to leverage the full benefits and performance from their state-of-the-art injection molding machinery, their process engineers and set-up technicians receive ongoing training.
Consistent, strategic investments in equipment, technology and people give high-performance molders an unbeatable edge in terms of quality, cost and agility.
2. A streamlined and optimized launch process
High-performance molders are driven by continuous improvement. Nowhere is this more apparent than in their streamlined project launch process. They work with a sense of urgency to keep tooling, material selection and acquisition and other pre-production steps moving quickly.
World-class molders are also committed to Scientific Injection Molding (SIM), which uses data and statistical analysis to create the most effective, robust, repeatable process possible. The goal of SIM is to move injection molding away from being an art founded on “tribal knowledge” decision-making to a scientifically rigorous procedure.
This data-driven approach enables high-performance molders to make informed decisions that expedite various aspects of the launch, such as determining the final tool design, sampling to develop a process, completing a successful PPAP and going into production.
3. A deep commitment to data
High-performance molders have systems and processes in place that enable them to store, mine and interpret data to improve their performance. They use data collection and analysis to develop and refine robust, repeatable manufacturing processes.
They use sophisticated data analysis to create standards that lead to consistency between team members, projects, equipment, molds and other elements of their process. When problems do occur, they use data to efficiently identify their true root causes, so they can quickly make changes to the correct variable.
Top-notch molders also archive data from past projects to help guide future ones. They use data mining to discern patterns and make informed decisions about which attributes led to the best outcomes and which practices they should avoid.
4. Friction-free project communication
Many molders use a weekly update with action items to facilitate project communications. But there’s a problem with this approach: There’s no accountability to ensure that each of the action items is completed on a timely basis. This creates miscommunications and “friction” that slows down project launches.
High-performance molders close the loop on project communication and collaboration. They employ tools that provide both parties with complete project visibility and accountability. The result is a unified effort to move projects forward as efficiently as possible.
This collaborative approach gives the molder and customer a high degree of agility, enabling them to make better-informed decisions and course corrections – quickly. It also frees up engineers to focus on moving projects forward instead of trying to get answers to questions or compiling project updates.
The bottom line
World-class plastic injection molders bring business intelligence to plastic injection molding. Their methodical, data-driven approach helps their customers to mitigate risk, reduce unnecessary costs and launch projects on-time and on budget.
If you’re experiencing challenges with your molder, contact us today to learn about our new project launch process and how it can deliver the world-class performance you need!