Contract review helps mold makers get tough
Joseph Pryweller's Nov. 3 Perspective ``Mold makers need to get tough'' identified a problem experienced by many mold makers. Pryweller cites tooling industry consultant William Tobin describing results from a recent study: ``The problem stems partly from a lack of backbone. Mold-making companies are not standing up to pressure from their large, multinational clients. Those clients increasingly want tools delivered in seven weeks instead of 10, for instance, and are known to change course at the last moment with sudden engineering changes.''
Pryweller describes the results: ``Mold builders aren't adjusting their prices accordingly to account for the time spent making emergency tooling changes or getting the job done faster.'' He suggests they get tougher, and I agree.
I work with small- to medium-sized mold builders to develop and carry out ISO 9001, a quality assurance system. It addresses the issue of faster-than-normal delivery and last-minute engineering change notices.
How can this be? ISO 9001 Section 4.3 Contract Review requires development of documented procedures for contract review and the coordination of these activities. To meet this requirement, a procedure must be written covering review of contract requirements, differences, and in-house capability to meet the contract. The procedure also addresses amendments to the contract.
Following the contract review, the procedure documents the cost and short-delivery issues Pryweller mentions. The advantage of this process is that costs are identified up front and included in the quotation. The customer is told that late engineering change notices may delay delivery and increase the cost of the mold. This is all documented by memos, fax transmissions or required customer signatures on specific notification forms.
There are other benefits resulting from ISO 9001 procedures addressing contract review. Development of the original quotation includes engineering sales, production, shipping, and other organizational interfaces. There are no surprises internally because everyone contributes to and is informed about the future contract. After receiving the contract, if an approved change causes a schedule delay for another customer, action must be taken. Either sub out the work, work overtime, or add a third shift. Perhaps a concession is made to satisfy the delayed customer.
Most important, mold makers are making informed decisions regarding cost and delivery. By understanding ISO 9001, customers realize that short delivery, high quality costs more. Mold builders use the Contract Review requirement as the so-called ``bad guy,'' placing the blame on their need to continue to comply with the standard. The result is cost control, educated customers, and improved relationships.
Bernard F. Carmell
Resource Development Group Inc.
Berkshire Management Institute
Kudos for stories on APC/SPI merger talks
Just wanted to compliment you on your recent Nov. 24 APC/SPI unification article: ``APC, SPI call 2-year truce on merger talks.'' This is a difficult issue, but throughout the past year you have done an excellent job at gathering the facts and presenting fairly all the major issues.
Thanks for your persistence and dedication to getting the facts.
H. Patrick Jack
Fina Oil and Chemical Co.
Most molders are good businesspeople
I am probably one of thousands responding to the Nov. 17 letter to the editor entitled ``Good mold makers, bad businesspeople,'' written by a Michael E. Prosek.
In this letter, Mr. Prosek insinuates that all molders whose annual sales figures are under $10 million are staffed with incompetent tool engineers, arrogant purchasing people and ignorant salesmen.
To classify all molders this way is similar to stating that all small mold builders are whining crybabies who blame their customers when they fall short of expected profits due to their incompetence as managers of their craftsmen's time.
We believe that our tool shops are in partnership with us to produce tooling that will produce product that repeatedly meets specification. We take responsibility for the profit that tool produces for us.
If Mr. Prosek will read the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. standards and practices brochure, he will see that the molder, not the toolmaker, is responsible for the long-term maintenance of the tool.
Although I admit that some in this business are looking for short-term, cheap results, most of us look for long-term, quality relationships with our customers and our toolmakers. Mr. Prosek should stop whining and look in the mirror.
Ralph L. Cook
Integrity Plastics Inc.