Behind the scenes #BECToolroom

BECGroup_Toolroom_MikeTharme

We caught up with Mike, our Toolroom Manager, this week to find out what goes on in the #BECToolroom.

Ok so we know we’ve got design, tool and moulding under 1 roof, but so what?

“Having everything on-site means customers can trace their job right from initial concept to the final manufactured product.

The customer’s in control throughout. With a direct line – to me – in the toolroom, they can visit for key project sign-off stages and because we work collaboratively, the whole manufacturing process stays super-efficient.

Manufacturing what the customer wants so we complete the project within timeframe, budget and to the standard of quality they’ve requested.

BEC customers get involved in design really early on – it cuts cost-in-time from initial point of order.

“You only need to tell a customer that once!

Because I’m in the workshop, designing and overseeing the toolmaking – unlike a sub-contractor who’s nowhere near the mould shop – I’ve got full visibility of the moulding process so I can plan ahead, saving time and minimising possible delays and errors later on.

If I’ve got a CAD part, I can even start ordering raw materials within 24 hours – while I’m getting the mould tool design finalised – that can mean the tool is under manufacture by Day 3.

Using my CAD software, I’ll fully draw up the tool, knowing where it’s going in our moulding machines, putting screw holes etc in the right places. That might take a sub-contractor 2 weeks before tool design CAD is released for manufacture.”

Customers might think that’s risky?

“Sometimes the design needs to change, but until you start cutting metal, the only risk is our time.

So, it’s on us to get it right.

Our customer wants the component, and we want to make a tool we can mould.

It’s in our interest to create the best tool:

A) so the customer can get his/her part

and

B) so we can get on with moulding it.”

Conforming to customer’s requirements.

“I see the job in its entirety and because I see the end product being moulded on the factory floor, I have to think about the way the operators are going to run it.

    • Are they taking it off by hand?
    • Are they going to trim it by hand?
    • How are they boxing it?
    • What are the batch quantities?

I don’t want the tool in and out of the toolroom – that’s not only inefficient, it’s annoying!

For me and the customer. I’d rather give the customer what they want from the start. There are always bits that need tweaking but 9 times out of 10 we’re there at the outset.”

How do we keep a tight grip on quality controls, so customers get high quality end products?

“Our tools are made from top quality P20 Steel, sourced from a reliable UK supplier DMS Diemould, UK Leading Precision Engineered Components Company, who we’ve partnered with for over 30 years.

Nothing’s lost in translation with us – we catch up with our customers regularly, conducting a thorough Design for Manufacture review with them, so everyone involved signs off what’s being made. They can visit us when they want, come in to sign off at every stage or do everything virtually if they prefer. Reassured we’re in the same country if they need to visit.

We keep tight control of tooling (and store them for FREE) – throughout the tool’s lifespan. Modifying, maintaining and repairing tools onsite so they always run efficiently.

Regular maintenance keeps the mould tool running reliably (just like your car) so it lasts longer, and we’re more likely to spot issues that can impact on production before they arise.

BECGroup_InjectionMouldToolingRepairs

I’m responsible for making sure the tools carry on running for the life that they’re under our roof. Sometimes we need to change tool parts or repair the tool and get it back in the machine – within the hour if we’ve got the parts in stock, or in a day if we have to buy the parts in. That ensures minimal downtime!

Although customers do contribute to running repairs and refurbishment when we’re doing 100’s of 1000’s of mouldings.”

Tooling is definitely made with longevity in mind isn’t it?

“From a few hundred off for a specialist bespoke project, to consistently producing several thousand mouldings every year, for over 20 years, for customers like Bioline and Thomas Dudley, we’re on hand to scale-up or down as the customer demands.

We even make prototype parts for testing prior to signing off a full production mould tool.

I’m really proud of our dedicated team; a mix of long serving staff with 30 year’s toolmaking experience on CAD/CAM, 3 and 4 Axis CNC Milling/Turning giving on the job training to the next generation of highly skilled toolmakers.”

Quality Equipment:

• XYZ 3 and 4 Axis CNC Machining centres
• CNC Lathes
• Various manual machines including Bridgeport mills, Pillar drills and Bandsaws
• Spark erosion machines (EDM Machines)
• Surface grinders
• Polishing and Surface finishing equipment (rotary and reciprocating files Shot blasting machine)
• Welding including MIG, TIG and a new micro TIG welding machine, all for in-house tool repairs

Here’s the BEC tooling process:

1. Receive Client Approved CAD with PO
2. Design the Tool using CAD/CAM software
3. Manufacture the Tool
a. CNC Milling
b. Turning
c. Grinding
d. Sparking (EDM)
4. Tool Assembly
5. First Off Tool Trials
a. T0 – trialling tool function
b. T1 – first mouldings run off for initial sample inspection report (ISIR) with sample sent to customer for approval
6. Sign off and into production

Although depending on the complexity of the mould tool, sometimes T0 and T1 merge into one.

If you’d like Mike’s expertise for your next injection mould tooling project, give us a call on 01425 613131 or email hello@becgroup.com