Unique & Effective Approach to Toolmaker Evaluations
For the plastic injection molding industry, it is essential for some decisions to be cost-driven. With supply shortages taking their toll on molders across the globe, a cost-driven strategy can be beneficial to the annual outcomes of all involved.
There can be, however, opportunities for improvement that lie outside the “cost-driven” component of doing business. Team 1 Plastics, a plastic injection molding company for the transportation industry, has done just that with their Toolmaker Grade Sheet.
In 2019 Team 1 Plastics’ Engineering Manager Dave Seedorf brought a unique idea to light. Seedorf was considering a new approach to improving their decision-making process for evaluating their toolmakers.
Not only would this new Toolmaker Grade Sheet allow for data-driven decision making as the company grows, but it would also eliminate subjective considerations when evaluating toolmakers.
While researching what other molders were doing Seedorf discovered that, among the few toolmaker evaluations out there, they were all cost-driven. It was important for Team 1 to develop a unique, yet effective, toolmaker evaluation that would consider non-cost factors relating to accuracy and performance.
Completed annually, the Toolmaker Grade Sheet is based upon a 0-3 scale, with four evaluation metrics: Mold Delivery, Customer Service, Accuracy, and Competitiveness. The scores for each toolmaker are then averaged to give a final “Overall Grade.”
Although the Toolmaker Grade Sheet is given annually to toolmakers, the process of evaluation is ongoing throughout the year. Consistent data collection by the Engineering Team is utilized during weekly meetings and monthly data evaluation.
Below is a breakdown of how each evaluation metric is interpreted:
The interpretation for Mold Delivery is determined by on-time delivery of the mold/sample parts. For example, Toolmaker #2 has received a 0.3 for Mold Delivery. This toolmaker averaged a delivery time that “Did Not Meet Expectations,” – a much slower delivery time than quoted.
The interpretation for Customer Service is determined by the molder’s experience as a toolmaker’s customer. This could include aspects such as the toolmaker’s supply of weekly timeline updates, response to correction plans in a timely manner, and answering questions as needed. This evaluation metric is the only one that could be construed as somewhat subjective, as it is based upon the interactions of the Engineering Team members during different stages of the tool build.
The interpretation for Accuracy is determined by the number of dimensional tuning loops required on a tool. A dimensional tuning loop is the process of making corrections to a particular tool. “Meeting expectations would include one, maybe two, tuning loops for a tool,” explains Seedorf. A toolmaker must also hit the timing quoted for tuning or they can fall to “Below Expectations.” In contrast, Toolmaker #2 was awarded eight jobs in 2021 and had no tuning loops on several of those tools; awarding them with an “Exceeds Expectations” grade of 3.
The interpretation for Competitiveness is determined by comparing the average grade to other toolmakers in the evaluation. This can be particularly important for toolmakers to see how they fit in with other toolmakers. When there are obstacles to success, it may be occurring with more than just one toolmaker.
POST-EVALUATION – FEEDBACK & IMPROVEMENT
Developing the toolmakers’ “Overall Grade” is made easy by the ongoing data collected throughout the year by the Engineering Team. At the end of January each toolmaker receives both their individual Year End Evaluation, and the Toolmaker Overview (both pictured above).
This type of data-driven evaluation can be advantageous for both molders and toolmakers. When the toolmakers know they are being evaluated and ranked against others, it drives improvement and fosters positive relationships between molders and toolmakers.
The annual feedback serves as constructive criticism, giving the toolmakers a “target” to hit for improvement. As the toolmakers improve, they are awarded more business from the molders and the molders can be confident they are doing business with quality toolmakers based on data, rather than opinion.
For plastic injection molders, decision making for good business should not always be driven on cost alone. With a data-driven evaluation that considers metrics based more on performance and accuracy than cost, molders and toolmakers alike can benefit. Now is the time to ask yourself, “Could it be time to revise our toolmaker evaluation?”