Rich Stueber, Nypro Mold (above) and Edward Jozefowicz, Nypro Chicago (below), say mold maintenance is a value-added customer service.
Why take an expensive mold, drop it into an expensive molding machine, and then pinch pennies in keeping it running? Mold maintenance propels profitability.
IMM recently got an offer it couldnât refuse. Glenn Starkey, president of a leading global supplier of tooling components, Progressive Components (Wauconda, IL), offered to take us on an excursion to meet with mold maintenance personnel. Starkeyâs on a mission. He wants to impress upon us what he calls, âThe profound benefits of mold maintenance.â
We visited some Chicago-area companies in order to let them tell you, in their own words, what best-in-class mold maintenance means to their organizations.
You might say Starkey has a vested interest in promoting mold maintenance. After all, as weâve reported, Progressive Components hired Steve Johnson, president of MoldTrax (Ashland, OH), as its maintenance systems manager, and is promoting Johnsonâs advanced, but affordable, mold maintenance software, MoldTrax 4.0 (see immnet.com/
product_news/2006/December/2093 for more information). Also, Starkey and others at Progressive donate some of their time to ToolingDocs, an online maintenance resource and seminar provider dedicated to improving mold maintenance practices.
Starkey says he compares the embracing of proper mold maintenance to other paradigm shifts such as the move to CAD years ago, or the emergence of quality standards such as ISO. To reinforce his point, we were to meet with toolroom veterans, including visits to Hollister Inc. (Libertyville, IL), manufacturers of specialty medical products, and NyproMold Inc. (Gurnee, IL), which builds precision molds for the consumer/industrial, electronics/telecommunications, and healthcare industries.
Could you refuse an offer like that? Neither could IMM.
Like diet and exercise
One toolroom manager, who wishes to remain anonymous, says some have yet to embrace the maintenance imperative. âMold maintenance? I donât believe that a lot of people are deep-thinking this issue, but itâs like diet and exerciseâif you donât do both youâre going to pay for it in the long run,â he says.
When you hit your ROI, your moldâs cost goes down, but the expense to continually operate that mold will, over time, go up.
In the short term, being aware of a moldâs performance and maintenance characteristics can dramatically reduce the downtime required to troubleshoot, repair, and return the mold to production-ready status.
He says that these key factors should be pointed out to reluctant bosses and bean counters in order to get everyone to embrace the need for an aggressive maintenance program.
To impress maintenance advantages on management, the following five key reasons for establishing such a program were listed by our source:
1. Maintaining molds increases productivity, cavitation, and uptime.
2. It supports your companyâs quality efforts, like ISO compliance, lean manufacturing, and zero defects.
3. It encourages the âtrust factorâ among your customers.
4. It reinforces your customer service and sales activities.
5. It reduces the cost and heartache of nonperforming tooling.
âSometimes itâs like herding cats in a row, but youâve got to convince management how much it costs if you donât do maintenance right,â Progressive Componentsâ Starkey adds. âItâs like the old auto parts commercialââYou can pay me now, or you can pay me later.â And everyone understands that it costs a lot more to the organization to be firefighting in the toolroom than to be proactive.â
This realization isnât just a top management thing. Trust has to be established between the toolroom and scheduling people. âScheduling and customer service personnel tend to break out in hives at the thought of pulling what they think is a perfectly good mold,â Starkey says.
âWhen you say you need a mold for two days, it canât then become two weeks. Credibility needs to be established that maintenance provides productivity, rather than hinders it.â
An uncompromising concern
In Libertyville, IL, we met Terence King, manager of molding technologies at Hollister Inc. A toolmaker by trade, King was plant manager of a large Illinois moldmaker years ago before joining Hollister, a global OEM of specialty medical products.
It molds parts at its facility in Kirksville, MO and also sources them from certified vendors. Its parts and molds are designed and prototyped in Libertyville.
âMedical product manufacturing involves IQs, OQs, and PQs [installation, operations, and process qualifications]. Integral throughout this is the maintenance of our tools. Itâs critical,â says King.
âAnd mold maintenance is much more important when youâre outsourcingâwhen youâre a buyer. So, writing maintenance procedures into a contract and keeping track of procedural compliance is very, very important for Hollister.â
King explains that even a small issue such as a tiny amount of flash around a moldâs ejector sleeve could not only wreak havoc and shut down an automated assembly line, but could even lead to an end user issue in medical applications.
âWithout proper mold maintenance, itâs all pointless. We want to know about problematic incidents before they turn into big problems. You canât allow the entire process to be compromised due to problems with the tool.â
Closing the maintenance loop
In addition to transmitting printed details, photographs, and whatever else it takes to ensure proper mold maintenance is Hollisterâs use of MoldTrax 4.0 software. King was first introduced to MoldTrax when meeting Steve Johnson at a ToolingDocs technical conference several years back.
âOur goal is to be able to log onto MoldTrax from anywhere in the world. The software probably has more powerful resources than we may ever need to use. For us, however, all we have to do now is just plug in an MRP number, link that to the tool number, and, bang, we have all the details weâd ever want,â he says.
If thereâs a maintenance-related error anywhere in Hollisterâs supply chain, King says that MoldTrax makes it easy to spot someone in the supply chain who failed to close the loop.
âWe needed something simple, something all parties involved could understand,â King says. âOur products live long life cycles, so we donât build cheap tools. Some of our active molds are more than 20 years old. Why design a mold, build it, put it in an expensive molding machine, and then, whatâforget about it? Mold maintenanceâitâs such an easy thing to do. Itâs not major brain surgery.â
Satisfying customer requests
Our last stop was at another MoldTrax 4.0 customer, Nypro Americaâs operations in Gurnee, IL. There are two different Nypro companies under one roof in Gurneeâa contract manufacturing operation (Nypro Chicago) and a moldmaking firm (NyproMold). Edward Jozefowicz, program manager of Nypro Chicago, tells us that its customers inspired the company to use MoldTrax.
âNot too long ago our three biggest customers said we had to have a program like this,â Jozefowicz explains. âA lot of maintenance systems out there are âgeneralââthat is, theyâre designed to work for anything. We were looking for something more specific to molds. I look after 25 molds and these are now operating within the system. Many of these molds have 12 million to 15 million shots on them, and continued proper maintenance is essential. Our system now lets us track the maintenance records for each component in each mold, even if weâve mixed items from tool to tool.
âAny other approach is just guesswork. What portion of your house is on fire? One canât be sure. But MoldTrax really helps us find the smoking gun.â
With a simple query, Starkey says users can learn the top reasons for unscheduled mold stops. Another can produce a listing that shows which molds are most expensive to maintain, and recurring product defects.
An affordable advantage
âEfficiencies and spares cost money,â says NyproMoldâs Robert Haag, manufacturing manager. âThis software is easy to use if you know how to access a database. Itâs been up and running more than three months. The real proof will be in six months to a year down the road.
âA lot of our customers are starting to ask us for some way of tracking tool maintenanceâafter all, PM, repairs, and mold components all get wrapped up in costs, just like overhead. And with customers at times owning the spare parts, we are able to demonstrate that we have a system for managing that inventory.â
Jozefowicz concludes, âIt is a selling advantage for us, allowing us to show our customers that mold maintenance is just one more issue weâre on top of. Theyâre all looking for value-added services. When you can buy a powerful system like this that does what it can do, I donât see why anyone wouldnât want it in their shop.â
|Hollister fast facts
Agie Charmilles Corp. | (847) 913-5300
â¢Â Privately owned, internally funded, Hollister employs about 600 people in Illinois and 3000 worldwide, including more than 120 moldmakers.
â¢Â Corporate headquarters are in Indiana; manufactures products in Missouri, Virginia, Ireland, and Denmark.
â¢Â Builds fully hardened, Class A molds; stainless steel mold bases.
â¢Â Kirksville runs 23 machines, 250-750 tons; Libertyville has four presses, 30-160 tons, Arburg and Husky.
â¢Â Objet 3D printing RP system is used for prototyping, with Moldflow and SolidWorks software used in mold design.
â¢Â RJG transducers used in all molds.
â¢Â Prototype molds in steel with built-in pressure transducers; Haas VM2 four-axis mill for product development.
â¢Â Uses MoldTrax 4.0 software.
|NyproMold Chicago fast facts
â¢Â Employs 25 moldmakers, including a four-man mold maintenance crew.
â¢Â Molds are built using a proprietary, closed-loop, fully computer-integrated mold manufacturing process.
â¢Â Late-model CNC moldmaking equipment includes 50-plus systems from Mori Seiki, Yasda, Makino, and Mitsubishi; 3R tooling is standard; uses Brown & Sharpe CMM inspection.
â¢Â Builds two-shot, stack, and unscrewing molds.
â¢Â Has built molds with up to 74 cavities; most are eight- to 16-cavity molds.
â¢Â Designs and builds turnkey manufacturing systems.
â¢Â Uses MoldTrax 4.0.
(800) 323-4060 | www.hollister.com