Consider this scenario: Despite your best efforts, your custom injection molder is missing deadlines or producing or assembling your project at an unacceptable error rate. Perhaps it's just costing you a lot more than you had budgeted. In any case, it just isn't working out. What are your options, and can you really afford to switch to a new manufacturing partner?
Moving On Isn't So Hard
Many companies choose a supplier to provide injection molding services, finished assembly, or decorative assembly from a third party. This can be a great production solution if the actual operational delivery of your product isn't your company's forte. So, if you're working with a supplier in such a capacity, and the relationship has some history, you might be inclined to stay with your custom injection molder and just ride it out. However, if there are problems, finding a new source might be easier than you think.
As long as your work through the "break up" methodically, you can realize the cost savings and production improvements you desire without missing deliverables. Several points should be taken into consideration when deciding to move injection molds from one supplier to another. The ideal solution is one in which the existing supplier, new supplier and customer are able to openly communicate while maintaining all your deliverables in the process.However, when this is not possible, having a supplier that has experience with this type of transaction is extremely invaluable. There is no substitute for experience and comprehensive planning.
Take It Step-by-Step
The first step is to establish a sufficient buffer of inventory prior to transferring the business. You don't want to get caught with too few parts on hand and cause an interruption in your business. At this stage, the current supplier as well as the new supplier have specific responsibilities to ensure a smooth hand off.
Next, you'll want to get crystal clear with your new supplier on the deliverables regarding quality, delivery, service, and costs. It's a perfect opportunity to implement the improvements or enhancements you've been meaning to address--but didn't--because you didn't want to rock the boat. As the customer, you also have a responsibility to communicate known problems to your new supplier. If you want them to be successful, give them their best chance for success by communicating your goals and issues. At this point (indeed, throughout the entire process) clear communication is critical. After everyone is on the same page, you'll want to make sure all parties are on board with cosmetic standards for the parts to avoid interpretation errors later on. We recommend retaining the last “acceptable” shot (part and runner attached if applicable) off of each mold prior to transferring. Finally, you and your new custom injection molder should develop an action plan to resolve outstanding problems in accordance with future production needs and in order of importance. This will provide a successful foundation upon which to build.
In Part 1, we discussed mold flow analysis (MFA) and the ways Ferriot uses it to improve the tool design process and, ultimately, the quality of the final custom injection molding we perform for our customers. In this ...