Why Regular Tool Maintenance Is Important

Paul Rowe, Nordell Technical Director Explains Why

Nordell are a privately owned manufacturing company with more than 50 years’ experience of specialist Plastic Injection Moulding. The last 12 months has seen the business deliver our largest year on year increase in turnover in our history, with staffing levels doubled in the last 6 months to over 150 full time members of the team.

 

The Nordell manufacturing site in based in Worthing, West Sussex houses over 38 injection mould presses ranging from 50tn to 360tn with an onsite, integrated toolroom offering tooling services from Design, Build & Modifications through to routine Maintenance and Refurbishment.

 

With over 38 years spent in the Plastics Moulding industry, Paul Rowe Heads up our Technical Team as Technical Director, a role that incorporates the NPI team and our Toolroom.

 

Paul started his career as a toolmaker and his industry leading experience makes him the perfect fit for his role. “I have always been involved in the trade, albeit for the first part of my career, primarily as an Injection Mould Toolmaker with some experience of blow moulding, alloy die cast, thermoforming tooling & general precision engineering.” Paul is heavily involved in early Design for manufacture, supporting customers to get their new projects off the ground by advising how to put their design into manufacture. Once the tool has been built and production has started, maintaining the customer asset is essential.

 

 

Central to our philosophy and efficient production is our MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Operations) schedule. Tools are regularly serviced in our well-equipped toolroom in line with maintenance schedules which are tracked in Realtime on our IQMS Delmiaworks ERP system. Every tool is monitored on the tooling database which records tool manufacturing cycles, enabling us to schedule preventive maintenance.

 

So why is preventative mould maintenance important? The adage is “prevention is better than cure.” When your mould tool breaks down, the costs of downtime and repairs make preventive maintenance a financially attractive option.

 

Mould tools are expensive, customer owned assets and regularly servicing your tool ensures your tool life is optimised and any production downtime through breakdowns is reduced. Broken mould tools requiring repair impact all parties financially through failed delivery vs orders as downtime is often considerably longer to repair a tool than to maintain it regularly. Yes, preventative maintenance can be time-consuming, however, it is needed to prevent serious consequences and costly repairs in the future.

 

Preventative mould maintenance refers to the scheduled maintenance tasks done on the injection moulds, such as inspections, assessments, cleaning, repairs, and replacements of worn-out components to keep the injection mould in peak condition to prevent avoidable part quality issues and production interruption.

 

Why is Preventative Mould Maintenance Important?

 

Preventative maintenance methodically remedies minor issues on the injection moulds and resolves potential tooling failures pre-emptively to ensure the injection mould reaches its optimal lifespan.

 

Preventive mould maintenance ensures Nordell can continue to manufacture high-quality injection moulded parts for its customers.

 

Longer downtimes and costly rework and post moulding corrective measures such as sorting, unscheduled repairs or expedited mould replacement can be effectively prevented. There are several moulding issues that are totally avoidable when mould preventative maintenance is completed regularly. These issues include:

 

Products produced may not meet the customer specification. When a mould tool is not routinely maintained, several issues such as residue or build-up, cracks, rust and other damage in the mould may be visible in the end product leading to rejected parts, which ultimately will increase production cycles and cost.

 

Mould damage beyond repair. This is something that must be avoided at all cost. Nordell mould tools are our customers assets, and we are proactive in maintaining the mould tool. Regular Preventative maintenance ensures, small issues, which could have been easily taken care of, do not end up as a major failure that requires a repair. Even worse, it could damage the mould beyond repair, causing its premature failure and unnecessarily spending on a new one resulting in a couple of months of production downtime, income loss and damaged customer relationships.

 

Worse still, the injection moulding machine can be damaged when a mould tool fails while in production.

 

Preventative Maintenance is critically important, and as described can lead to higher costs of downtime in the long run. At Nordell we ensure all mould tools are serviced in line with their MRO schedule, but…

 

Why would a moulder not want to service their customer moulds and keep them in peak condition?

 

Maintenance results in downtime, which no moulder wants. Downtime stops production and limits your return on investment. The temptation may be to opt for continuous production rather than invest time on maintenance procedures.

 

Maintenance requires additional manpower and like downtime, which temporarily stops production income and incurs costs, our toolroom staff who carry our preventative maintenance programs need to be paid! Companies may see tool maintenance as a cost add as it does not directly contribute to turnover.

 

Preventative maintenance may be considered an option, rather than essential. Even with the awareness of the importance of preventative mould maintenance some companies may chose not to carry out regular servicing as its importance may be downplayed.

 

At Nordell we consider this to be the wrong mindset. However, it does clearly demonstrate that working with a moulding supplier with the correct operating philosophy is vital. It will ensure our customers maximise their ROI, reduce supply interruptions and ensure KPI’s are delivered.

 

Mould Maintenance Procedures

 

At the end of each shift and while the mould tool is still in the press, the surfaces, core, and cavity should be carefully cleaned using a mild solvent on a soft fabric and compressed air. Grease and resins that accumulate and any build-up from vented gases should be gently removed.

 

Prior to removing the mould tool from the injection mould press for servicing in the Nordell toolroom, the mould needs to return to room temperature to avoid any potential for condensation to form on the mould, leading to the development of rust.

 

What do we do when we service the tool in the toolroom?

 

Ensure any water inside the mould is drained and blown free of residual water.

 

Remove residual dirt and grime from parting surfaces, core, and cavity.

 

Both halves of the mould should be sprayed with light rust preventive lubricant. This is done by moving the ejector system fully forward. Once done, retract the ejector system and close the mould.

 

All bolts and plates should be checked and put in place securely and tightly.

 

Tools that are in storage and required to start a new production run are always put through the toolroom prior to production. The tools are checked and cleaned using a mild, clean solvent and soft fabric on the parting surfaces, core, and cavity of the mould. This removes the mould anti-rust coating, as well as ensuring any dust and other substances that may be in the mould are removed.

 

To maintain your tool in peak condition, REMEMBER:

  • NEVER use hard tools on any mould inserts surface.
  • NEVER use towels to wipe highly polished mould surfaces.
  • Avoid too much clamp and high injection pressures.
  • Do not forcefully and hurriedly open and close the mould.
  •  

To ensure your plastic injection mould tools run efficiently and smoothly for a long time, regular Preventative Maintenance MUST be adhered to in line with the MRO schedule. Most critically it will reduce the potential for a mould tool to break down in the middle of a moulding process, which will ultimately cost more than a regular maintenance program.

 

Learn more about our Toolroom services or drop an email to enquires@nordell.co.uk

Posted 4 weeks ago By Nordell HQ
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