Coordinating an acceptable transfer, Part 3: The receiving company

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November 23, 2009

In Part 2 of this series, the sending company toolroom manager’s responsibilities in a tool transfer were outlined. Now, here are some considerations for the receiving company and what its team must do when the tooling arrives on its dock.

Being on the receiving end of a tool transfer can be anything from a positive opportunity to a horrible chain of events. There will be some challenges and some puzzles to piece together, so it’s wise to approach the just-delivered tooling systematically and with some measure of caution.

Those who have received transferred tools have learned many a hard lesson by assuming too much about a mold. So, we recommend the following steps:

1. Upon receiving the tooling, the toolroom manager needs to make an inventory of what has been sent to him. Are there prints? What about a mold book containing a molding machine processing data sheet, maintenance records, mold and part drawings, and other valuable data? Are there any last shots of molded parts? How about a runner? All must be gathered, organized, and communicated early to management.

2. Once this inventory has been taken, the setup team needs to get involved to look over the molds for any obvious issues while it is still on the bench. This is always easier than climbing through the tiebars or squatting alongside a mold while attempting to peer inside it looking for slides or cavity numbers. Also, because some tools are rather complex and require special hookups, establishing a plan with the setup team early on will save confusion and stress later.

3. Rather than performing an initial disassembly and cleaning upon the tool’s arrival, you can gain valuable insights by sampling the tool “as is” in order to discover its true condition upon receipt. If mold drawings are available, they can be a great benefit by providing a cross-section view for internal mold actions. The process engineer should also be on hand to review how the molds operate—check the drawings, see how the molds fill, and look for any basic issues. Aside from that, however, just opening the molds at their parting lines and wiping them off is usually sufficient before getting them into the presses for a trial run.

4. Once this initial review phase is completed, it’s time to bring in the QC department, while updating the molding department to coordinate sampling.

5. Dry cycle the molds first to ensure that all actions are working and that the open-close functions are working correctly. The process engineer should then take over and set proper parameters, reviewing the parts for samples to be sent to QC for first article inspection.

If the parts shot after dry cycling are not acceptable to QC, the mold should come out of the press to be disassembled, revised, and completely cleaned. After this, enough initial experience with the tool should have been gained to predict when it might be put into service for production.

6. Next, a DOE (Design of Experiments) is conducted to establish the ideal settings for each mold to operate within the optimal processing window. Then, parts should be captured for a CPK study by QC. The molds would normally be shut down at this point until the results of the CPK study are available. The data returned will determine what the next steps are, but these could include resampling; cleaning, repair, and resampling; and release to production. This process can take anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on how many surprises present themselves.

At this point, a new mold file should be initiated. Detailed notes about the results of the sampling and what will be done to correct any defects will be included. Often there are no mold drawings included in the transfer, so the receiving company may do an actual cross-section of the mold design, or at a minimum, a Visio representative drawing, showing all components and critical dimensions.

Given everything that has to happen to get a single mold running, it’s clear there are many considerations and reactive steps that will occur. When dozens of tools are involved, and perhaps also a salesman’s promise that the new work will be in production immediately, the role of the toolroom manager is even more daunting.

Methodical actions, tracked within a documentation system, will reduce the surprises and hazards downstream. It’s the classic tortoise-and-the-hare scenario, and the need for a systematic approach by the toolroom manager must be understood by all parties involved in the transfer.

Coming next: Steps the OEM can take to accomplish a successful tool transfer.
More on this topic: What are the hidden risks of tool transfers? Part 3: Noninstrumented tool transfers

Author Randy Winton is global training manager at ToolingDocs.

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