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May 17, 1999

4 Min Read
Bringing value-added services in-house

Whink it takes a big company to succeed in developing the all-important value-added services molders will need to thrive in the future? Custom injection molder Craftech Corp. (Anaheim, CA) realized several years ago it would have to do business differently if the company was to grow from its somewhat modest, 18-press size. There were too many ups and downs and too much business going elsewhere because the company couldn’t compete.

Today, that has all changed. Craftech has crafted a new way of doing business that includes offshore tooling alliances, the addition of extensive value-adding operations, and eight new molding presses. In 1998, the company grew to $16 million in sales from $11 million the previous year, and now runs 26 machines ranging from 30 to 550 tons. “It’s a new Craftech,” boasts Alfredo Bonetto, senior vice president of the company.

Bonetto says the com-pany had to accommodate changes in the way OEMs do business. “Every customer wants more things done by a single supplier with one purchase order,” he notes. In addition to in-house moldmaking, which Craftech provides, customers began asking Craftech to handle the secondary operations as well, which were subcontracted out to a variety of vendors. However, the company soon learned you lose a considerable amount of control doing it that way; at the same time, volumes were increasing to the point where Bonetto began asking why they couldn’t handle everything in-house.

Putting the Principle to Work

Now, the molding press is only the beginning of the process. The press is at the head of the line and the necessary secondary operations for each job are installed downstream from there for complete inline production. New robotics systems are used extensively. Along the line, quality checks are in place to ensure that each step of the process is done exactly right so the end-of-the-line finished product meets the customer’s specifications. In some cases, multiple downstream lines run to speed up the process; with modularity, an entire line can be moved to a different press.

A recent project for Symbol Technologies demonstrates what Craftech has been able to do. Symbol had a contract to provide a new, handheld barcode reader for the United States Postal Service to help it compete with UPS and Federal Express. Craftech convinced the company it could produce the 16,000 units/week the company needed to fulfill its obligations to the USPS and landed the work.

The secondary operations developed for this project, such as inline cable assembly, multiple heat-inserting, and overmolding, complemented Craftech’s existing operations, which include pad printing, silk screening, heat transfer, sonic welding, shielding, and painting.

Moldmaking Competition

Craftech has an in-house mold shop with 16 moldmakers who build the molds for the company’s operations. Bonetto says a few years ago the company was losing out on new tooling—and thus molding work—because they couldn’t be competitive on mold prices. One day a customer asked if Bonetto would be willing to go to Asia and investigate offshore tool shops.

Bonetto traveled to Hong Kong, Korea, and Taiwan to survey mold shops and explore the possibility of a strategic alliance. Today, Craftech has a tool shop alliance in each of these three locations and can offer customers offshore tooling if they insist on it. “Some customers want domestic tooling, and we can provide that,” says Bonetto. “But many customers want to go offshore, and we can now provide that as well.”

Bonetto says he’ll give customers two prices on their job quotes, a domestic price and an offshore price. The customer can make the comparison and decide where he wants the mold built.

Craftech controls the mold build from Anaheim. “We tell them exactly how we want the mold. We specify everything. It might be more expensive that way than just letting them do it the way they want, but we ensure that our customers get the molds they ordered,” says Bonetto.

Photos of the mold build progress are sent via e-mail each week so Craftech engineers can monitor the process. When the mold is complete, the engineers travel to Asia for the sampling to ensure the parts meet specifications prior to shipping the mold back to Craftech for molding the parts.

Bonetto says since he began offering offshore tooling options to his customers, business has picked up by 15 to 20 percent. It has also resulted in an increase in molding work.

Doing business differently also allows Craftech to choose its customers carefully, making certain their requirements maximize Craftech’s capabilities. The company serves the electronics and telecommunications industries, which typically require extensive secondary and assembly operations.

Craftech operates out of a 40,000-sq-ft facility with 240 employees, 100 of those in the secondary operations department. One of the goals this year is to find a separate site for the moldmaking division and move the secondary operations into the 7000-sq-ft space the tool room currently occupies. The company is also working toward its ISO 9001 certification.

With the addition of a new website, logo, T1 line, and proprietary server, Craftech has jumped with both feet into the next century. “We’re ready,” says Bonetto.

Contact information
Craftech Corp.
Anaheim, CA
Alfredo Bonetto
Phone: (714) 630-8117
Fax: (714) 630-7959
Web: www.craftechcorp.com

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