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12/28/2012 | 5 MINUTE READ

More Effective Mold Maintenance: It’s All About the Data

Processor Strategies: Cosmetic Specialties International
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When tooling issues are shutting down presses daily and you can’t muster the mold maintenance and operating records to figure out why, then like the song says, “Who ya gonna call?” The answer to that question proved crucial to Cosmetic Specialties International (CSI), LLC in Oxnard, Calif. CSI injection molds 200 million jars, caps, liners, and closures annually for the beauty, skin-care, and personal-care industries. Founded in 1978, the $15-million/yr operation today has 107 employees and 38 injection presses of 60 to 300 tons in a 7600-ft2 plant. CSI builds some of its own tooling and does its own mold maintenance and repairs.

“We were averaging 15 unscheduled mold stops a week, about three a day,” says Chris Gedwed, operations manager. Lack of complete information hampered the search for a solution. “We knew we were experiencing some challenges with regard to data collection. The information was there but we had no centrally located database that allowed us to effectively quantify it.” One problem was that the molding staff and the toolroom technicians had different ideas on what to measure to characterize mold performance. “As a result, there was a lot of frustration. We had backlogs and needed to find a solution.”

CSI searched for companies that could provide the consultation and training needed, and narrowed its list of candidates down to three before choosing ToolingDocs, a firm in Ashland, Ohio, created expressly to train mold-repair technicians and spread the gospel of data-driven maintenance management. CSI worked with ToolingDocs on an six-month training program and implemented a computerized mold-maintenance database. “We moved fast,” Gedwed says. “The key was that our toolroom manager, Ubaldo Ramirez, really took the reins.”

The upshot was a reduction in CSI’s unscheduled mold stops to about eight a week, or under two a day. “In six months, that saves us around $25,000 in mold downtime,” says Gedwed.

The first step, last January, was a Maintenance Capability Assessment at CSI, conducted by ToolingDocs global assessment manager Randy Winton. “We showed them the various opportunities for improvement,” he says. “They had many of the same issues as other molding operations, but they couldn’t easily pinpoint what their number one mold-stop issues were.”

CSI then launched a program of Total Systems Implementation (TSI) with ToolingDocs, starting with a two-and-a-half-day training course for Gedwed in Toolroom Maintenance Manager certification and instruction on use of the MoldTrax5 mold-maintenance information software, created by ToolingDocs operations manager Steve Johnson. Winton credits Gedwed’s background in finance: “He understood the value of knowing how data can be used to make decisions for a company."

ToolingDocs also conducted an on-site Level 1 certification training session in the “8 Stages of Systemized Mold Maintenance” at CSI for its entire toolroom staff of eight. Says Gedwed, “Given our team’s years of toolroom experience, it was impressive that each team member walked away confident that what he learned would improve how he managed his own work flow.”

ToolingDocs stayed in close contact with Gedwed via a biweekly online Webex conference to keep the momentum going. “Once we overcame the resistance to change and established the systemized mold-maintenance process, we saw improved productivity,” Gedwed recalls. We implemented a preventive maintenance program, whereby we pull a mold, even if it’s running well, after a certain number of cycles to clean and repair it—rather than letting it run until there’s a problem.”
Implementing the MoldTrax5 maintenance database “was a main focus for us,” says Gedwed. “It pulls out so much information that we didn’t have. Before, we were looking at just the top of the iceberg, so to speak. Now, after less than six months’ time we had over 1000 corrective actions recorded for over 100 molds and 200 inserts in the system.”

After a mold comes out of the press for maintenance, it comes to the toolroom with a document listing all performance issues, specific part defects, and when a mold was running and when it had to be stopped, and why. “Our molding personnel now provide more specific information—instead of just reporting “flash,” they tell us how much and exactly where on the part,” Gedwed reports. “Ubaldo takes that molding report and creates a corrective action report and sets up the tasks in MoldTrax. When the work is done, he enters that into MoldTrax.”

Gedwed tells how MoldTrax played a crucial role with a customer that came to CSI with a new job involving four molds that required qualification and substantial maintenance. “With MoldTrax we were able to quantify and justify what each mold’s maintenance costs were, from labor hours to materials and beyond. When we showed the customer how we were able to track everything in such detail they were just blown away. Before, it would have taken so much time to collect all of this data—now in minutes we can generate customized reports. As a result, this customer is sending more business our way. MoldTrax helped quickly instill a level of trust in us that the customer didn’t have with other vendors.” One important result was being able to justify to the customer the value of replacing two poorly performing molds by comparing the cost of new molds to the ongoing maintenance and downtime costs of keeping the old molds running.

Gedwed emphasizes how crucial MoldTrax is to CSI’s six-week lead time on new jobs: “We need to diagnose and dissect the issues and get the molds fixed as soon as possible. MoldTrax can isolate certain key pieces of data that help us accomplish that.”

Thanks to MoldTrax software, more systematized mold maintenance, and reconfiguring the toolroom for greater efficiency, CSI not only has fewer unscheduled mold stops, but it gets them back in action sooner. “Before, when we had eight molds pulled for maintenance, we would get only six of them back out within 12 hours. Now it’s eight molds in and eight molds out in that time,” Gedwed says.

ToolingDocs awarded CSI its TSI Certification last June. Gedwed says that credential helped CSI bring two new global customers on board. They performed audits of the toolroom and were impressed at the ToolingDocs training and certification “because it confirmed a level of competency that they required.”