In today’s competitive environment, OEMs are looking for opportunities to reduce costs while maintaining product quality. While there are a number of factors that contribute to the cost of injection molded parts, we will focus on the top 3 ways to reduce part cost: consolidation of suppliers, efficient part design, and process automation.
1. Supplier Consolidation
The only constant in the manufacturing world is change. Over time, OEMs often find they have acquired a large supply base that can be challenging and time-consuming to manage. One cost-cutting measure is to consolidate the supply base into one or two strategic supplier partners. When partnering with a single-source provider such as Crescent, customers receive a complete manufacturing solution that strengthens their supply chain. Additionally, since every step in the injection molding process builds upon the next, it is cost-effective to partner with a supplier that can start and end the project with you – from the concept and design phase through production and secondary operations! There are many benefits to supplier consolidation including:
- More purchasing power: by consolidating your supplier base, you will gain purchasing power. This can be in the form of negotiating lower manufacturing and transport rates due to higher annual spend, or lower raw material expenses due to more volume purchased.
- Improved communications: by consolidating your suppliers, your points of contact are greatly reduced, possibly down to a single point of contact at your key supplier. This allows for a central, more customized level of support. This will also inevitably improve and simplify your supplier communications, resulting in a better final product.
- Easier to manage: a smaller supplier base is simply easier. There are less suppliers to setup and manage within internal systems, and the relationship is easier to manage.
When determining which partners should be part of your strategic supply base, consider the supplier’s cost, quality, communication, core-competencies, and use of technology. If you are satisfied with the supplier’s performance in these key areas, then the supplier should likely be part of your strategic supply base!2. Efficient Part Design
In order to reduce part cost, OEMs need to ensure the part is as easy to manufacture as possible! This will result in more efficient production, better quality, and lower cycle times. Below are some best practices that will help you reduce cost. Crescent’s part design guidelines address these and many more topics, and our experienced team is happy to guide customers through the design process to achieve the most cost-effective design while maintaining product quality.
- Minimize material: look for opportunities to reduce solid part sections and replace with more hollow sections. Use of gussets and ribs will often provide the required strength while using less material. It may seem like a small reduction in material but when multiplied over many production runs the result can be a large decrease in part cost! Additionally, parts that weigh less are cheaper to transport and store, further reducing costs.
- Adequate draft: when it comes to production, time is money. Parts with easier ejection from the mold result in shorter cycle times and lower part cost. Draft is an essential element in part design and is simply the angling of walls to allow easier separation and removal of the product from the mold. A lack of draft makes it nearly impossible to remove the part. OEMs should ensure adequate draft in the part design.
- Simplify the Part: several design features impact part cost such as tight tolerances, engraving, or the addition of undercuts, unscrewing cores, hand loaded inserts, etc. These all drive up cost and directionally reduce production efficiency. OEMs should work with their supplier to look at design alternatives and should ensure any complex features are “must-haves”!
Automation, and the efficiency it brings, has become a vital component in the plastic injection molding process. Automated robots offer speed and accuracy, resulting in lower cycle times and higher product quality. Additionally, a highly-automated molding process can be controlled by as little as one operator, lowering labor and manufacturing costs. With an automated production line, personnel no longer have to execute the repetitive, time-consuming tasks – reducing the risk of human error and allowing personnel to focus on more value-added responsibilities.
Automation within the injection molding process can occur during the design phase all the way through secondary operations. Crescent utilizes various automated solutions to manufacture components for customers including end of arm tooling, fully automated work cells, collaborative robots, and computer-aided machining.
OEMs should work with their molding partner to design with automation in mind. For example, parts that are smooth are more suitable for automated assembly processes. Also, OEMs should be mindful of assembly order and ensure part orientation is consistent. These design consideration help ensure automated processes downstream are optimized and efficient.
Crescent has been manufacturing injection molded components for over 70+ years and has a rigorous process for in-house design and production of parts that meet our customer’s specific needs. Partner with a company that is on the leading edge of manufacturing technology and continues to reinvest profits into the company’s capabilities. Contact us today to learn how we can help with your next injection molding project.