Molders, start your engines: The "NASCAR" approach to optimized mold changes

10/06/2011

The efficiency of mold changes, a common task in many custom injection molding shops, is a key factor in determining how much machine time is available and can make or break a company with a lean manufacturing ideology. Efficiency, consistency and speed are three primary focuses in a lean-minded shop. This article points out some of the principles of NASCAR race teams and how these can be implemented into a molding shop's mentality to drastically reduce changeover times and the downtime associated with mold changes.

Lean approaches in plastics injection molding are a vital requirement to the success of any molding operation. Efficient molders can cut their costs and consistently undercut the quotes of their completion. Companies that successfully implement "lean" into their operation do so through:

- Fast and consistent changeovers
- Production runs with minimal start-up scrap and minimal-to-no scrap during the run
- Ongoing continuous improvement projects aimed at all facets of the molding operation.

This article will address mold changes, and what a company can do to drastically reduce its changeover times and improve the overall success of the change for a successful start-up. By following some of the lessons of a NASCAR pit crew, a plastics processor has the opportunity to eliminate inconsistency and downtime associated with poorly planned changeover events.
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