When It’s Time to Transfer Tools…
There are many reasons you might move a tool, such as consolidation of the vendor base, moving the product back from a low-cost country, financial or quality difficulties experienced by the current molder. Whatever the reason, it is important to choose the right injection molding partner to complete the transfer.
Every molder has their own way of handling and maintaining tooling. However, you can expect an ideal partner will provide:
• A dedicated team to coordinate the receiving and commissioning of tools
• Effective diagnosis and correction of any current production problems
While every situation is unique, the following information can help you achieve a smooth transition and get your project back on track.
6 Keys to a Successful Tool Transfer
- Create a basic plan of action. This plan should include an evaluation of the current tool and processes, inventory management, and the search for a new injection molder.
- Diagnose current problems with production. If your decision to transfer your tooling involves a quality issue, you’ll need to determine the cause. The molder you are considering for the transfer can often help with this assessment. You’ll also need to gather information regarding inventory and documentation for the parts being transferred.
- Select a molder. Your new molding partner should have a proven track record in transfer procedures.
- Anticipate concerns and complications. Consider your expectations of the tool transfer process, any problems you might encounter, and come up with solutions that can be implemented in advance of the transfer.
- Fill in the details. Propose specific actions and timelines as they relate to your particular product and transfer situation.
- Implement the plan. Follow through with the tool move.
Knowledge for a Seamless Move
Your new supplier will need as much information as possible about the project in order to perform an efficient tool transfer. It is a best practice to make sure that you are communicating as much as possible with your new vendor to make sure all bases are covered and questions answered. These details include:
- Applicable contract terms
- Any available prints
- Sample parts from each cavity for visual and dimensional evaluation
- Required material and color specifications
- Type of tool (valve gate, hot sprue, cold runner, etc.)
- Type of mold (MUD base, full frame, 3 plate, etc.)
- Any fixtures or secondary tooling being transferred
- Special packaging requirements
- Release quantities
If possible, it’s also useful to have the following information from the current supplier:
- Current cycle time
- Cavitation (single- or multi-cavity)
- Any available quality rejections or dimensional performance reports
- Any molded inserts or secondary assembly operations required
- Allowable regrind percentage, part weight, runner weight, shot weight
- Moldable dimensions (width, height, stack height)
- Press tonnage
- Status and condition of any secondary operations equipment, gaging and fixtures, hand tools, or assembly aids and equipment
*Secondary operations and other supplementary equipment are part of the tool transfer. If required, your new molder will quote for the development of new equipment.
Tool Transfer Process Checklist
- Assemble a team. Empire will create a “Transfer Team” consisting of you and your engineers, as well as members of Empire’s quality, manufacturing, and engineering groups.
- Discuss design options and concerns. Empire will review the existing tool. If possible, we’ll visit the current molder to evaluate the condition of the tool prior to shipping it to our facility. We’ll report to you with any design problems that might prevent the project from being successful, along with options to remedy the problems.
- Understand the risks. Empire will assess the risk to you from your current molder and assist in negotiating the transfer.
- Confirm exactly what will be included with the transfer (support equipment, cooling fixtures, gaging and assembly equipment, tool drawings, etc.)
- Identify any spare parts, components, and excess resin that you would like to move to Empire. Under normal circumstances, Empire should only receive resin in unopened containers. If items are consigned, the quote will need to be adjusted until the consigned materials are consumed.
- Confirm the method of transport and packaging. If there is the potential for tool damage during shipment, we may recommend that Empire have oversight of packaging and/or shipment of the tools and equipment.
- Discuss options for streamlining the approval process. This might include onsite customer approval or an open deviation for the first run.
- Identify any secondary operations equipment included in the program. Empire will assess the condition of this equipment and determine if outside services are needed for repairs, spare parts, or internal training.
- Approve tool changes needed to improve the part. Empire will work to resolve any dimensional issues by comparing a first round of samples to samples from the previous supplier. We’ll then identify and explain any tool changes that are needed to correct these issues. If needed, we’ll provide you with a buffer inventory while tool changes are being made.
- Confirm the cost. Empire will explain any unexpected variances in the manufacturing methods that might lead to adjustments in the pricing estimates.
- Approve the start of full volume production. Once you’ve approved any needed changes, you’re ready to start receiving regular shipments.