Custom Mold Inc

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Case Study Background
Custom Molds Inc produces custom made molds for plastic parts and manufactures connectors for the electronics industry. The father founders of Custom Molds Inc are father and son, Tom and Mason Miller, in 1987 which is located in Tucson, Arizona. Tom Miller who is a mechanical engineer, had vast experience in the connector industry with AMP. Mason Miller is a double degree holder in chemistry and chemical engineering, a graduate from Arizona State University. Originally, the company manufactured electronic connectors with source of high quality, custom made molds for producing plastic parts. They worked closely with their customers so that they can meet the customers’ requirements and their mold have to meet the exact standards and have to be unique. Once the customers have moved from the design and pilot-run stage of development to large-scale production, they will place orders for multiple molds. Custom Mold’s reputation grew with the years as a designer and fabricator of precision molds. With the reputation, the Millers decided to expand into the limited manufactures of plastic parts and new equipments were added such as ingredient mixing facilities and injection molding equipment. In the mid-1990s Custom Mold’s reputation grew to include being a supplier of high quality plastic parts. Due to limited capacity, the company decided to concentrate its sales efforts on supplying parts that were used in limited quantity for research and development efforts and in preproduction pilot runs. Production Processes

By 2000, Custom Molds operations involved two distinct processes which are fabricating molds and producing plastic parts. Both the processes are inter-connected for an instance, when a customer places an order, Custom Molds both fabricate a mold and produce the necessary parts to support the customer’s research and design efforts. All fabrication and production operation were housed in a single facility. Fabrication molds requires a skill-oriented, craftsman-driven process. When an order is received, a design team, consisting of a design engineer and one of 13 master machinists, reviews the design specification. Working with the customer, the team comes up with the final specification for the mold and passes it to the master machinist for fabrication. At the same time, the specification is given to the purchasing department, who orders the required raw materials. It usually takes about three to four weeks for the raw material to arrive. Once the materials have been received, the plant master scheduler reviews the workload of the assigned master machinist and schedules the mold for fabrication. Fabricating a mold usually takes up to two to four weeks, depending in the amount of work the machinist already has scheduled. The fabrication process takes only three to five days. Once completed, the mold is tested and inspected, where it is used to produce a small number of parts on one of the injection molding machines. If the mold passed the required specification, it is then sent for cleaning and polishing, and then packed and sent to customers. If at all the mold fails, it is sent to the maser machinist for retooling and the process starts all over. Currently, Custom Molds holds a lead time of nine weeks for delivery of the molds. The manufacturing of the plastic parts is different from mold fabrication. An order for parts may be received in conjunction with an order for a mold to be fabricated. For instances, if the Custom Molds already have made the molds, an order may be jus for parts. If the mold is already available, the order is reviewed by the design engineer, who verifies the part and material specifications. If the is any doubts, the design engineer will contact the customer and clarifies the doubts. Once the parts and raw materials are accepted, orders are placed for the raw materials and production in scheduled for the order. Chemicals and compounds used for the manufacturing are...
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