Need to move a mold? How one molder makes it smooth

Some molders cringe at the thought of taking in molds from another molder, given all the unknowns that come with moving a mold, not to mention the adverse circumstances under which many molds are moved. New Berlin Plastics (NBP) has made itself an exception to that.

“We’ve never been reluctant to take in tooling in this way, and in fact we embrace it,” says Thomas Frank, director of sales and marketing. “We take ownership of the process, and of the mold, working to make the transition smooth for the end customer, which is why we created our Smooth Move Mold Kit.”

A mold maintenance technician evaluates every mold that comes into New Berlin Plastics, photos are taken, and a complete report is written for the customer.

NBP, a custom injection molder in New Berlin, WI, has a long history of taking in relocated tooling and doing it successfully. In fact, some of its largest customers were first established with the company through a major mold move. All of the experience NBP gained along the way helped it put together a kit that guides its customers through the entire process of transferring tooling.

The goal of the Smooth Move Mold Kit was to establish an orderly process not only for transferring tooling but also for getting conforming parts to the customer in the shortest time possible. As Frank explains, “Back in 2006, a local molder went out of business and we stepped in to help their customers out. Through that process we transitioned over 100 molds to our facility, and had them up and running in a matter of weeks.”

Prior to the molds hitting the dock at NBP, the company assigns a project leader to head up a team of design, tooling, quality, and processing engineers that supports the move from receipt of tooling through production approval. Once the tools are in-house, the team performs a thorough evaluation, including photos of the molds, and provides a report to the customer. Next, the team has a face-to-face mold review with the customer. “Then we sample the mold to determine if the mold makes conforming parts,” says Frank. “We want to use scientific injection molding to come up with a solid process. Based on the trial, we take sample parts and compare those to the sample parts from the previous molder. We have access to the capability of scanning the parts to see where the discrepancies might be.”

Frank says that the detailed Smooth Mold Move Kit is part of the communication effort to eliminate misunderstandings and get everyone on the same page. “We’re trying to set the expectations to be reasonable from the beginning, to help them understand what they’ll be going through to get their mold up and running. That’s the goal. We’re trying to give them the tools to make this a smooth transition.

The Smooth Mold Move Kit includes:
1. A step-by-step outline consisting of 25 primary steps and 25 sub-steps to detail all the requirements to ensure a smooth transition of a mold to New Berlin Plastics.
2. A sample timeline. “We provide our customer with a detailed timeline for their move so they know what to expect and make the move a positive experience,” says Frank.
3. Request for Quote sheet. “This provides a detailed sheet of all the key information a molder needs to provide a solid quote.”
4. A three-phase checklist of all steps to completing the move.
5. Assignment of a project manager. “Every mold move gets a project manager to oversee the transition,” explains Frank. “In some cases the project manager acts as a customer’s employee if the customer is short staffed.”

Frank adds that it is not uncommon for customers to call and ask if they can get a mold into production in two days. “This includes quality checks and performance testing to approve the product and meet our customer’s tight delivery window,” he says. “We pride ourselves on being flexible, fast, and customer focused.” Clare Goldsberry

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