DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY (Dec. 5, 9:30 a.m. EST) — A new Portuguese mold-making company will use a proprietary software system to induce U.S. customers to work with them over the Internet.
The company, Imold Engenharia e GestÃ¢o de Moldes lda, has developed a new computer package that allows customers to follow an entire injection toolmaking project — from engineering to shipping — over the Web.
With software tools so advanced in the 21st century, there is less reason for customers to stay within a country's borders for projects, said Bruce Fishman, sales and marketing director for Imold's U.S. subsidiary, Imold Tooling Technology, and a former executive with hot-runner supplier Kona Corp.
“All projects can basically be done by computer,” said Fishman, interviewed Oct. 30 at K 2001 in Dusseldorf. “For the entire operation, for concept, design and manufacturing, we've developed a system that can be more responsive than traditional phone and fax methods. It's an innovative way of conducting business.”
The tooling company was started by Adriano Caseiro, a prominent figure in Portugal's well-stocked mold-making industry. Caseiro also owns mold distributor Rerom Equipamentos e Acessórios para IndÃºstria lda and graphite-electrode producer Gramaq Tecnologias de MaquinaÃ§Ã£o lda. Both are based in Leiria, Portugal.
In January, Imold will open a 25,500-square-foot plant in Leiria and offer technical support from an 8,000-square-foot facility in Joinville, Brazil. The company will invest about $4 million in the two plants, Caseiro said. The toolmaker will share space in the Brazil facility with Gramaq.
The company will start with 20-30 toolmakers, Caseiro said.
But the major investment comes from its custom-designed software system, Caseiro said. Customers can exchange design files over the Internet, conduct resin-flow analysis, gain real-time status updates on a project, check delivery status, inspect purchase orders, and view mold inspection and measuring reports. The system even allows customers to see a digitized picture of the under-construction mold, Caseiro said.
“The system will allow us to work with customers in real time, day or night, around the clock,” Caseiro said.
Other Portuguese mold makers offer similar, Web-based programs to attract global customers.
“We have to do what we can to export our molds to the rest of the world,” said Manuel Oliveira, general secretary of Cefamol, the Marinha Grande-based Portuguese trade association for the mold industry, at the show.
But Imold believes its system is more advanced in allowing integration with a customer's computer system, Fishman said. Fishman will attempt to drum up U.S. sales from his office in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass.
“The I in Imold stands for integration,” Fishman said. “It's an excellent approach to change what's been done in a conventional fashion.”
Fishman added that U.S.-based toolmakers need to adapt to the latest computer technologies and to global markets. The world has become smaller since the days when Fishman sold hot-runner systems for the Gloucester, Mass.-based Kona, later purchased by Dynisco Inc., he said.
“Most toolmakers need to develop new ideas or face some additional threats,” he said. “It doesn't matter anymore if you're based in the United States or somewhere else in the world.”