How To Navigate The Minefield Of Transfer Tooling

How to navigate the minefield of transfer tooling

If you don’t have the right foundry partner, transferring tooling can be like trying to cross a minefield while blindfolded. Your odds of success are likely to be very low. But an experienced foundry can help you get through the process smoothly, so you can be back in production with a minimum of hassle.

“Moving tooling from one foundry to another isn’t as easy and straightforward as everyone would expect,” explains State Line Foundries president Jesse Milks. “There are so many variables involved, including the condition of the tooling, adapting it to the new foundry’s processes and much more. Each casting and pattern tool is unique.”

State Line takes in an average of 100 transfer tools per year and has developed deep expertise in solving problems and getting them into production quickly. Some of the most common and unfortunate scenarios include:

  • Tooling that got damaged in transit,
  • Missing core boxes or loose pieces,
  • The tools may contain modifications that aren’t documented in the drawings,
  • Aging tools that need to be rebuilt or replaced (some are 80-90 years old!), and
  • Process tricks that the previous foundry used to ensure successful castings aren’t documented.

In addition, the OEM often isn’t aware of the condition of its tooling because they never see it, Milks warns. “It moves directly from one foundry to another. OEMs frequently have little or no knowledge of the tooling that’s used to cast their parts,” he adds. That can sometimes make it challenging for the foundry to obtain all the information it needs to successfully prepare their tooling for production.

State Line Foundries’ flexible approach to transfer tooling

State Line streamlines the transfer tooling process by only focusing on the key issues that must be addressed. It’s a “just-right” combination of a structured process, which ensures that the castings will meet all of the OEM’s PPAP and functionality requirements, with just enough flexibility to help accelerate the setup process.

Milks says one secret to State Line’s success in managing transfer tooling is that it invests a significant amount of time upfront, trying to understand the history of the casting.

“Effective communication with the OEM is critical during this process. The more we understand about the casting and tooling, the better.” For example, knowing the quality history of the casting from the previous foundry can be very helpful. “Why fix what’s not broken? If the casting was being produced previously without quality issues, State Line doesn’t need to reinvent the gating layout. But if there were previous issues, it’s helpful to know so we don’t reproduce them.”

“We realize that many OEMs don’t have safety stock and they need to get their tools back into production ASAP,” Milks acknowledges. State Line Foundries has two very experienced, full-time toolmakers on staff who focus most of their time on adapting existing tooling to its processes. “They’re excellent problem solvers,” he adds.

Customers love State Line’s transfer tooling process

This streamlined approach has proven to be popular with the foundry’s OEM customers because it works.

“A lot of our growth during the last decade has been the result of new OEM customers giving us one or two parts to produce. They like the experience so much that they consolidate more of their casting buys with us over time,” Milks points out.

“We focus a lot of time and effort to ensure that the tool transfer experience is a positive one, not a horror story,” he concludes.

Contact State Line Foundries today to discuss your casting and tooling needs.

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