Solutions: The Product of Creativity and Understanding

Today’s marketplace is a tough one. Tool & Die Manufacturers are faced with a variety of conditions that affect profitability, and in many cases, merely keeping the doors open. The primary factor facing us is the customer’s never ending search for ways to cut costs. The Tool shop is forced to compete in one of two ways: play the lower your price (and margin) game until you put yourself out of business, or find new, creative solutions to meet your customers’ needs. To survive and succeed in this environment, creativity, innovation, and truly understanding the needs of your customers becomes a necessity.

Recently, Rapid Mold Solutions was approached by a customer to quote a set of 5 prototype tools for a program that they intend to launch in the near future. The customer made it all too clear that cost would be the determining factor in issuing the purchase order. We began the quoting process by initiating a conference call with the two engineers involved on the program and the molding manager that would ultimately issue the purchase order to determine the true needs of the customer. After a relatively brief discussion, it became apparent that they wanted to replicate the production molding process as closely as possible, wanted tooling and parts as quickly as possible, and wanted the lowest cost they could obtain to get to those parts. After hanging up the phone, our quote team, consisting of upper management, the manufacturing and engineering managers, and myself began brainstorming how to accomplish these goals. After considerable discussion, we arrived at a unique solution; a tool that would meet all of their needs! We proposed that since all of the parts would require a similar sized mold base, we would quote using a single mold base for all the parts. We could then insert production caliber tool steel cavities and cores for all of the parts with the understanding that all steel conditions in a variety of critical areas agreed to by our team and the customer’s team would be made “steel safe” to allow for additional cutting if the prototype tests yielded results that would require the removal of additional steel for additional part integrity. The intention of maintaining “steel safe” conditions being that these cavities and cores could later be transferred to the production tooling by maintaining the integrity of the tool steel. We then calculated our numbers, maintaining a healthy margin, and presented our concept and quote to the customer. The customer not only sent us a purchase order for the prototypes, but also asked us to reserve time in our manufacturing schedule to produce the production tools! This understanding of the customer’s needs based creativity not only landed Rapid Mold Solutions the prototype tools which were the original intent of the RFQ from our customer, but it also landed the production tools.

Yesterday, I was at a meeting with a new customer discussing the kickoff of a big 1 + 1 family tool that was a “rush job” due to their customer’s stringent timing requirements. At this point, price was not as much an issue as was delivering a capable, quality tool. We were in discussions to kick off the tool when an issue over one particular part that potentially needed a material change came to light. In lieu of causing a “disaster” with a 1 + 1 tool, we quickly interjected with changing the quote from a family tool to two single cavity tools. Not only would the move to two single cavity tools improve the overall timing of the project, it would make the potential material change significantly easier. Problem averted.

The understanding of your customers’ needs cannot be understated. This understanding not only lends itself to creative solutions that meet your customers’ needs but is a fundamental pillar of the customer supplier relationship. There is a reason that most of us have had many of the same clients for many years, and it is the fact that although it may have been difficult to forge, and there have been challenges along the way, your established customers stick with you because that understanding of their needs has been determined and is implemented every time you get a purchase order.



Get In Touch!

Address:Rapid Mold Solutions

4820 Pacific Avenue Erie, PA 16506

Telephone:814.833.2721

FAX:814.835.6658

E-mail: [email protected]