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Ten questions to ask before sourcing tools offshore

June 1, 1997

2 Min Read
Ten questions to ask before sourcing tools offshore

Thinking about partnering with a moldmaker overseas? Michael L. Hetzel, president and CEO of Broadview Injection Molding, Broadview, IL, offers the following 10 items to review with a prospective offshore tool building partner, based on his own exhaustive two-year search involving a field of 20 candidates, 10 finalists, and five visits:

1 You should plan on controlling the mold design. Does this mold supplier have the proper, compatible modem communications links and software?

2 Does this supplier have a design leader willing to make overseas calls sometimes at odd hours?

3 Does the supplier have access to the same mold materials of construction that you do? If you prefer to use Uddeholm, can your supplier comply?

4 Can you work directly with this supplier? Why pay a middleman, like a U.S. agent?

5 Is your supplier the cheapest you can find that can still provide the type and quality of mold you need?

6 Can the tooling manager at your candidate supplier speak English? What about technical English?

7 How does the supplier handle multiple slides, intricate shutoffs, cavity-to-cavity repeatability, and sampling? Send out a design and have the supplier quote your approach.

8 Have you visited your prospective supplier? Any supplier can make a beautiful brochure and show you samples, but you have to visit the plant to examine not only the toolroom, but the parking lot, the washrooms, and the administrative offices. Cultural differences aside, clues to the supplier's stability, capability, and financial resources abound.

9 Have you gotten to know the supplier's principals as well as its technical staff, in order to better understand its corporate culture?

10 Has the supplier visited your plant to see what it is going to be quoting, and to better understand your processing protocols?

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