Manufacturers turn to ‘tool transfers’ to boost quality

Posted on 18 Oct 2012 by Tim Brown

Growing demand for tool transfers is helping a UK precision component manufacturer expand and take on more staff.

Brandauer, which celebrates 150 years in business in 2012, has seen a surge in the number of companies looking to transfer complex tooling in order to solve production issues and bottlenecks.

The Birmingham-based firm has already completed multiple projects in the last eighteen months and is currently exploring a number of other enquiries for potential customers in the automotive, medical and alternative power generation markets.

Managing Director David Spears believes the growth in this service has come from an increasing demand for secure supply, the need for additional capacity and a unique ability to solve challenging tooling requirements.

He points to an ongoing relationship with one of the world’s largest manufacturers of components for domestic appliances, who has benefitted significantly from tapping into Brandauer’s tool transfer service.

“We’d been talking to Otter Controls for a considerable length of time, as they had been identified as an ideal potential client for us,” explained David.

“As the relationship developed, we were presented with a challenging tool transfer opportunity concerning two specific electrical connectors for use in the base of kettles.

“After a swift industry bench-marking exercise, we were selected as the preferred solution and started work on the transfer, a sizeable task and one that was made more difficult by the fact that ongoing global supply requirements still had to be fulfilled.”

He continued: “The transfer process commenced with a free 15-hour tool inspection service, developed to diagnose any issues with the existing tool and to ensure they could run in our presses.

“During this process, we identified a number of dimensional problems, which were causing issues with quality and on-time delivery.”

Otter Controls and Brandauer immediately set up a cross-functional team to agree key milestones and continuous improvement targets to be met throughout the tool development plan.

Improvement activity commenced, encompassing design, quality and tool issues identified at the initial inspection phase.

These were resolved by drawing on its multi-sector technical expertise, an in-house tool-room and wire-EDM machine, which allowed it to produce replacement tooling elements to tolerances of within 2 microns.

As the volumes were forecast to double, a critical tool spares programme was established and all production schedules were successfully met.

Once additional capacity was secured, Brandauer was able to increase safety stock levels and remove the need for excess premium shipping costs.