Cost-estimating software is taking mold quoting from back-of-the-envelope guesswork to computer-generated model.

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A cost management software’s latest update includes enterprise capabilities that better predict product costs in global manufacturing supply chains; costing more product types and parts; and expanded usage across the enterprise so more resources can identify and act on cost-reduction opportunities.

aPriori, Concord, Mass. (www.apriori.com), says its 2014r1 program allows companies to evaluate multiple cost scenarios in real time and synchronize their efforts across their design, manufacturing and sourcing organizations. The company says the key to aPriori’s accuracy and speed in creating quotations the ability to accept 3D computer-aided design files to automatically generate cost inputs.

2014r1 can also pull data that are hosted in other enterprise applications and communicate product cost among all business segments involved in product definition and delivery, including the import of complex engineering Bills of Materials (BOMs) from ERP, PLM and other enterprise applications. 

 

CAD models  to quotes
“One of the biggest differentiators for aPriori is that we can take a 3D solid CAD model, pretty much any 3D solid model, and use that to generate a tooling quote,” explains Rick Burke, VP of marketing at aPriori. Users enter variables like part volume, material, manufacturing process, and location of manufacture, and create a detailed cost estimate, which factors in cost components like labor and overhead.

“In addition to piece part cost, the calculation of the tooling cost is an incredibly complex challenge,” Burke said. “To take a CAD model and extrapolate out all the incredibly detailed tooling—I don’t know of any other company that can do this.”

 

More than just injection molding
The software has also expanded the processes it can extend that modeling to, adding reaction injection molding (RIM), structural foam molding, rotational molding, and blow molding. Mark Dignum, product management at aPriori, noted the addition of the last two processes helps boost the company’s support of fuel tank manufacturing—a bonus given aPriori’s presence in the automotive space. The program can also tackle some sheet processes, including thermoforming, vacuum forming and drape forming. “We can get a bit wider in terms of the companies we cover and the types of parts,” Dignum said.

 

Accounting for cycle time, more
aPriori also sought to increase the accuracy of the injection molding tooling cost estimation suite since the release of the last iteration. Specifically, the updated program has beefed up its tooling calculations, estimating cycle time for injection molded components compared to other processes, by utilizing a few key parameters like thickness and material.

“We have partnered with some higher profile customers to help us develop a tooling model where basically we’re reverse engineering tooling requests from the CAD model of finished component,” Dignum said. The program can account for special features like the number (and size) of slides and lifters, as well as how much machining will be needed to make features; required design time; EDM hours; and more.

 

Have you quoted a tool to Ford lately
One such “high-profile” customer was Ford Motor Co., working close with the automotive OEM’s global tooling organization. “Ford was faced with the business problem of getting these ‘black box’ quotes on tooling from Tier suppliers,” Burke said, “one gigantic line item for tooling, $250,000…$500,000…and they don’t know if that’s realistic so they had a big initiative to try to get better visibility into tooling.”

Burke said aPriori has been working with Ford for a couple years, eventually connecting with one of its mold suppliers, Roush Enterprises’ Global Tooling unit. Roush’s goal: faster, more accurate quoting for greater business.

“Roush wants to drive more business so their motivation was, ‘We want to do the best possible job we can for our customers, so when we get an RFQ we want to respond as quickly and accurately as possible so we can win the business,’”  Burke explained.

Roush produced a webinar on how the program has helped its mold-quoting process.