8 Signs Your Molding Company Partner Does NOT Fit The “Right” Mold
Ultimately, your plastic products are only as good as the due diligence you undertake when working with or evaluating an injection molding company, and with the right amount of digging there are a number of tell-tale warning signs that can be uncovered from the outset.
In this article we’re going to share 8 signs you absolutely need to look out for lest you befall the same fate as hundreds of other unsuspecting companies that came and failed before you.
#1 No Quality Management System in Place
Whilst this may be the most obvious sign to many a seasoned importer, the lack of a robust QMS is also the most concerning one.
After all the quality mishaps documented over the golden years in China’s manufacturing history — many having plagued some of the biggest companies in the world — you’d be surprised how many factories are still playing Russian Roulette when it comes to ensuring quality at every different stage of the manufacturing journey.
I’m certainly not saying that the measured perception of bad quality and China is as evident as it was some years ago, but rather that it is important to know that with competition between the thousands of mold makers located in southern China’s Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Dongguan at an all time high, when it comes to vigilantly upholding quality they are not all cut from the same cloth.
Partnering with a molding company that has no discernible quality management system in place presents many risks:
- No continuous improvement process
- Increase in defects found
- A disengaged workforce (also see sign #5)
- Lower productivity
- Increase in overall costs
From quality checks upon entry of the materials into the incoming warehouse, during production, at the end of production, random sampling and pre-shipment inspection, it’s really up to you to enquire as to what the quality control processes look like.
Asking what certifications and compliance standards the company upholds and how they are geared to consistently reduce defects and improve yields should help point you in the right direction.
#2 No General Manager With A Technical Background
Chances are that the first contact you ever have with any potential partner will be through their sales staff, and in our experience, if your partner truly values the business potential your company presents to them, having them permit your request to an audience with their general manager will go a long way to helping you see if they’re a suitable fit.
After all, a ship is only as effective at sailing as its captain’s knowledge of how to get the most speed out of it, if you catch my drift.
Too often we see general managers at the helm of companies with a wealth of sales experience, but little to show from a technical perspective.
This is an alarming sign that you might be getting into bed with an organization that doesn’t put your needs first.
How can one expect to cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship with a company knowing that the top brass
doesn’t have a cooking clue as to what is potting in their own factory?
Your mind needs to be put at ease that every aspect of their supply chain is geared towards helping your company reach its goals, and who better to inform you of that then the very person whose job it is to ensure that their own company is a well-oiled machine.
#3 No Sales People That Can Answer Your Questions Without The Express Help of an Engineer
Following on from the last warning sign, the depth of technical know-how in the company should not be limited to the general manager, engineers or production manager.
Working with sales people that can accurately field your technical questions is an effective litmus test to gauge the mastery of a molding company’s core business skills and ensuring your specific needs and concerns are understood and accurately addressed.
Dealing with a sales person who tells you that they aren’t sure about how the services they offer can provide the solutions you’re looking for, or that they need to ask an engineer first, is a clear sign that you’re about to waste your precious time with a lot of back and forth.
A good sales person will always have a comprehensive understanding of the products or services they are selling and have the utmost belief in them, in order to sell you by not selling you.
Just because somebody can speak your language doesn’t mean they really understand the scope of your project and what it will take to get the job done.
#4 No Machine Maintenance Program
Outside of the paramount concern of ensuring workplace safety for all, there is a veritable business case for ensuring that machines are maintained at regular, predetermined intervals for both parties involved.
Factories that do not have a machine maintenance program in place means that the calibration of the machines are not checked and that the machines and tools are not clean and fit for service.
Machines that are out of commission put your orders at risk of being affected in the middle of production, which presents a myriad of issues like an increase in the likelihood of defects, potential re-works and costly shipping delays and overall production costs.
Taking the time to enquire about scheduled maintenance measures will go a long way to put your mind at ease that your business is treated with the same respect as they do theirs.
#5 No Company Training Process
Idle minds and idle hands are the devil’s workshop!
Whilst the expression above might conjure up images of a more sinister nature, a lack of a discernible company training process is another danger sign that will most certainly have a direct impact on the productivity and efficiency of their workforce.
Moreover, without sufficient systems in place to encourage knowledge transfer and nurture employee growth, there is the risk of a decrease in employee retention in key positions that can effectively stop production in its tracks and the company’s ability to fulfill your orders.
Partnering up with a plastic injection molding company that understands the importance of education through a proven training program, will always be in a position to replace a worker at any given time and ensure that the show goes on.
This is definitely a point that not many importers might think of off the bat, but one that can be raised to catch a potential partner unawares and give them the insight they need to make a more informed decision.
#6 No Records of Production, Quality or Traceability To Be Found
Where there is no quality management system in place, there is no record of quantifiable data that can be used to identify what quality looks like in an organization.
Companies that have no product or quality record are unable to determine how many defects occurred during each production, what kind of defects occurred and where these defects occurred.
Without this there is no surefire way to ensure traceability and the power to exercise greater control of their supply chain to know precisely what goes wrong, when it goes wrong and how.
Having a partner that is in the dark as to what their quality looks like spells a heap of trouble for all concerned, and on the side of the importing party, you’d be stuck looking straight down the barrel of some serious quality problems that could be avoided by asking the right questions from the start:
- Has your factory ever been audited and by whom?
- Are you able to supply me with your factory/quality audit reports?
- What is your company’s defect management strategy?
- What do the levels of acceptable tolerances look like for your company?
Knowing the answers to these questions and how they align with your company’s prerequisite standards will help you cut through the crud pretty quickly.
#7 No Process To Control Procurement of Materials
At the end of the day, the quality of plastic parts produced are only as good as the materials they are comprised of — and not all plastics are made equal.
Every injection molding company that is serious about giving you exactly what you ask for will be the first to divulge that they have a carefully selected group of suppliers that they source only the finest raw materials from (so ask them).
The procurement manager should have a process to control this supply. Failing to have a process for controlling the procured materials may lead to swapping/mixing of materials, using different grades of plastic or a different plastic material altogether in your future orders.
The plastic materials used also have their own unique set of properties when it comes to flexibility, hardness, shrinkage and more. Ensuring that the right material is used in your mold design is paramount and leads me to my next warning sign.
#8 No In-house Design Resources
There are a lot of factories and sales people that will tell you exactly what you want to hear and promise you that anything is possible just to make a sale.
But, you really have to stop and ponder this promise carefully if the partner you’re evaluating does not have the expert in-house design resources to provide you with the critical feedback you need to guarantee project success.
After all, it should be your partner’s job to point out possible shortcomings in your internal team’s design and material selection to help refine and adjust where necessary.
Them saying “Yes” to everything for the sake of agreeing with you and not losing your business will eventually lead to you losing your business.
Designing for manufacturability from the get-go is of the utmost importance!
A qualified team will look at the bigger picture, challenge your thinking and propose the adjustments needed to help you reduce injection molding costs and give you greater peace of mind.
Be sure to speak to their design team first, or better yet, submit your mold drawings, request a quote and look out for the level of detail provided before making any commitments.
Final Thoughts on Picking The “Right” Molding Company Partner
The truth is that most of the companies you speak to will have dealt with overseas clients in some capacity in the past and that they will have most of the answers to the easy questions that every importer asks them on lock.
But, what separates the “right” molding company partner from the rest is their ability to answer the questions that makes the others’ uncomfortable, the questions that the others try to brush off or tell you that you don’t need to worry about because they’ve worked with companies from your country before.
Some focused questioning directed at the key stakeholders in an organization — and the right amount of due diligence — goes a long way to helping you assess which molding company is the right fit for you.
Going into business with the right partner means they’re not afraid to answer you in specific detail and they have the necessary documentation and technical know-how to back up their claims.
By the end of your interactions, you should have the utmost confidence that they have a holistic understanding of all the intricacies of your project, and that they’re equipped in every aspect to ensure success.
Provident has done the due diligence for you in partnering up with Tutamen, a leading American owned and operated injection molding company in China.