aPriori cost-modeling software has upgraded its capabilities to generate highly detailed tooling cost estimates for components. Rick Burke, aPriori's VP of marketing, told PlasticsToday that the program's ultimate goal is to help OEMs and suppliers, including injection molding and moldmaking companies, "understand the costs of manufacture." A simple concept with powerful prospects for companies wrangling over the true costs of a component with their customers.
Businesses that buy a subscription to the software can open up a CAD model within the program, enter a few relevant data points like volume, material, process, location of manufacture, and lifecycle, then click on "cost" and get an estimate in seconds. "Historically people who estimated cost tended to be at the end of the process," Burke said. "This moves the whole process upstream, and that way people can attack the cost right away."
Moving beyond injection and rotational molding
At this point in time, aPriori plastics cost modeling can be used for single-shot injection molding, rotational molding, and tooling estimates, with a blowmolding suite and detailed costs and bills of materials for tooling added in December. Julie Driscoll, VP marketing strategy and product management for aPriori, said going forward, the company will add programs for extrusion and insert molding. aPriori is also researching programs for reaction injection molding, structural foam molding, and thermoforming.
Burke noted that aPriori has relevant application for parts and projects in various stages, including quoting for sourcing of a new product, detailed cost estimates for re-designs, and cost projections for new product introductions.
Burke noted that if a company is interested in outsourcing production, the cost-modeling software will show what the price "should be." With an existing product, it could be used to look at alternative designs that would reduce costs, swapping out materials, processes and production locations. Finally, with a new product, a target cost can be set with the ability to track that cost as the part evolves. "As a manufacturer looks to cut costs," Driscoll said, "tooling budgets show an opportunity."
To stay abreast of changes in labor, logistics, and material costs, among other considerations, aPriori publishes quarterly updates for those inputs from around the globe. Also, by using its VPE (virtual production environment) feature, the software allows users to create a virtual factory, in which they can get a better feel for their costs of manufacture.
aPriori is used by designers, cost engineers, sourcing professionals and suppliers to generate cost assessments. As design changes are made, or new product specifications are introduced, aPriori automatically re-assesses and provides an updated product cost quickly and easily.
aPriori's new more detailed tooling estimates include specific information about the physical attributes of the tool, including mold size, actions, and lifters/slides, as well as materials and purchased items like core/cavity plates, ejector boxes, and hot runners. In addition, labor and machine times, including design, machining, assembly, and tryout are accounted for in the calculation.