Mold warranties: Providing a good warranty that protects both you (the mold builder) and your customer

One of the most frequent questions sent through the AMBA's "Ask A Mold Builder" site is about mold warranties. Here is some advice and comments from one moldmaker on how his company handles warranties, and word on a tool to help mold makers provide a warranty that's a win-win for everyone.

Customers often want their mold suppliers to provide a "guarantee" or warranty on the molds they purchase as a way of ensuring that the mold builder will fix any problems that arise during the life of the mold. However, given the many variables that are involved once a mold is in production, knowing what to provide in the way of a warranty is a tough call. Fact is that high-dollar, complex molds often end up in molding facilities where mold maintenance is an afterthought, rather than a priority.

Still, mold manufacturers are often asked to provide a blanket "warranty" on molds, which means that any warranty they do agree to is often vague. Tim Peterson, vice president of Industrial Molds Group (Rockford, IL), says that there are several factors his company considers when it negotiates a warranty. "We look at the complexity of the mold: does it have a lot of actions such as slides, lifters, or unscrewing mechanisms? Does it have a lot of small core pins? How many cavities? And what type of material will be running in the mold?" Peterson explains,  "Many of these new engineering grade resins, which many of our customers use in molding their parts, such as glass-filled material, can cause more wear on a mold than other types of materials such as unfilled polypropylene. To put a blanket warranty on every mold we build guaranteeing how long the mold will last isn't good policy."

Obviously, the mold manufacturer wants to mitigate his risk once a mold is in production, and the customer or OEM's molder also wants to reduce their risk. Ultimately, mold standards must be re-evaluated for today's materials, and the responsibility, costs - and the risks -- have to be shared between the mold manufacturer and the molder and/or OEM.            

One thing Peterson suggests is contacting Tooling Docs, a company in Ashland, OH, that offers a Maintenance Capability Assessment (MCA) program. Randy Winton, global assessment manager for ToolingDocs, travels to molding facilities to assess the capabilities of molders to maintain molds. Winton then develops an MCA scorecard that scores molders from 1-5 on their level of maintenance capabilities.  The higher the MCA score, the less risk the mold builder takes with any warranty he signs.

Winton then creates a concise report on what the molder is good at and what needs improvement with respect to its mold maintenance procedures.  As a mold builder, Peterson says that he can then evaluate the level of risk in providing a warranty to the customer based on the results of the MCA. ToolingDocs also provides the training and guidance to help molders and/or the OEM improve their maintenance capabilities.

"We at Industrial Molds are much more willing to provide a better warranty on the molds

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