On paper, injection molding is a pretty straightforward concept. Load plastic pellets or resin into the hopper, process them, inject them into the mold, pop out the completed plastic product and repeat ad infinitum.
Yet even though injection molding is still seen today as a system of mass production, the current technological revolution throughout manufacturing has imbued plastics fabrication and assembly with a newfound sense of quality. Today, molders use advanced materials that add valuable features to the highly complex products they create. These manufacturers continue to prosper in partnerships with relatively new industries like medtech while still keeping up with legacy clients as they lightweight their goods, an innovative concept transforming a wide breadth of industries from the automotive sector to sporting goods to construction.
These successes aren't accidental. Molders who manage data well and apply it advantageously retain their productivity power while they innovate, no slack in sight. The trick is getting there.
Where will erp software deliver those optimal results to modern injection molders?
Shelf life is a tough metric to track in a stockroom full of specialized materials.
Eyes on the inventory
Characteristics of different base materials create unique products. Heat-resistance, hydrophobia, high tensile strength, flexibility - plastics and polymers perform all sorts of duties for a finished product. But as these chemically attributed qualities multiply and molders add new materials to their repertoire, advanced inventory management capabilities becomes a requirement. After all, shelf life is a tough metric to track in a stockroom full of specialized materials, let alone fulfillment.
ERP allows users to consider every byte of real-time data their businesses generate or capture - procurement, production, demand, etc. - and automatically dispatch customizable alerts to relevant parties. That way, employees never scrape the bottom of the pellet barrel or let overstocked resin expire on inventory shelves.
Moreover, lot tracking is essential for injection molding facilities also handling assembly. The sheer volume of data at play is enough to make a manager's eye cross without organization through ERP. On top of that, the reverse logistics needed for recycling goods have the potential to confuse, unless the ERP supports the process as it winds in and out of normal operations.
A single damaged mold can stop an entire factory dead.
(Un)break the mold
Organization also matters for molders with a Babylonian-level library of molds. When equipment operators can't find the molds they need, changeovers lengthen and downtime takes bigger bites out of production potential and profitability. Furthermore, injection molds themselves cost thousands of dollars each. Why leave an investment like that practically unsupervised when a single damaged mold can stop an entire factory dead in its tracks?
Responsible molders will want ERP software to track the whereabouts of molds and prevent unnecessary uptime loss during changeover. Who checked it out? Where was it last seen? What machine is it currently attached to? All this is possible with the right RFID technology, mobile devices and ERP solution.
Squeaky-clean clean rooms
FDA-approved, ISO-certified injection molding clean rooms aren't thrown together overnight. They are the product of considerable labor and meticulous routine, not to mention verifiable proof of cleanliness. As injection molders push into medical and biomedical device markets, work pertaining to quality control becomes far more labor-intensive. ERP Software can aid in the documentation process by acting as a smart repository for crucial QC data and prevent keying mistakes that could instigate a costly investigation.
These systems also serve as excellent tools when QC specialists do need to peruse processes and practices should a contamination or quality breach occur. Auditors focus less on scrolling through spreadsheets and find the information they need immediately. The faster they correct issues, the smaller the impact on the business or the brand.
Does your injection molding facility already rely on traditional ERP to capture and communication data? Think it's time your system received an upgrade worthy of the changes in your industry? Take a deeper look at what abas ERP can do for plastics fabrication and assembly.