We constantly talk about maintaining our physical and mental health, our cars, our homes—our important purchases and investments … so why does maintaining our molds seem like the least valued step in the mold manufacturing process? When in fact, the value of a well maintained mold is priceless.
The bottom line is that in order to keep a mold running it needs to be properly maintained—from the inside out. Otherwise the end result is wasted time and money, and a lot of aggravation.
Some essential processes to mold maintenance, and necessary repair, include cleaning, retrofitting and welding; however, to complete those efficiently and effectively takes organized documentation, methodology, troubleshooting and training.
Training is key; mostly because maintenance/repair is just different than building. So it requires shops to invest in creating mold repair technicians, define goals and secure commitment to the plan. A team approach is key—so getting molding and toolroom managers, molding facility plant managers and owners on board is essential.
What shop doesn’t want to stop the constant putting out of fires. And you know molders want to save money on repairs and OEMs want to reduce their spare parts expenses. Proper maintenance can help with all of that.
This is why we are starting a monthly In the Trenches series, dedicated to some personal struggles, lessons learned and tricks of the trade–all from the world of mold maintenance and repair. The stories and strategies will be brought to you by James Bourne, a toolroom supervisor at SRG Global (Farmington, MO), which specializes in electroplated trim for the automotive industry, as well as to the motorcycle and commercial truck industries. Jim has been involved in die-cast and injection mold building and repair for nearly 25 years—from building new tooling in 100+ man shops with state-of-the-art equipment to repairing production molds in a three-man toolroom with only basic equipment.
According to Jim, Steve’s Johnson Across the Bench series in MMT (from the mid-2000s), convinced him of “the need for clarity of information, the value of tracking tool historyl, and the necessity of an electronic database to access history and trends in tool repair”. He is an example of a guy who’s had to start from a practically useless paper Work Order system and developed a functional electronic database. It’s been the school of hard knocks and he says that he is still learning.
From “build only” shops to tool shops that have production departments to injection molders within-house toolrooms, Jim has seen a lot and is ready to share his insight, and more importantly, get your feedback. See page 32 for the first installment, and be on the look out this year for other ways we will be highlighting mold maintenance and repair—both in MMT and at our annual amerimold expo (June 12-13, Rosemont, IL).