The competitiveness and the technological development of the European industry strongly depend on the performance of the tool making industry. Tools are an essential part in every manufacturing system: they influence the investment costs, the quality characteristics, operational parameters, maintenance schedules, process stability and –performance.
Due to customer’s demands on increasing productivity and process stability the tool making industry tries to find ways of satisfying these demands. Possible solutions to these demands are more efficient process chains, high-quality tools and taking action through new sustainable business models. In times of globalized procurement strategies the tool making industry more and more focuses on resource efficiency. Especially the European tool making industry has to position itself against competitors from low-cost countries through its expertise. Regarding productivity and stability the tool making industry could not achieve any substantial progress in terms of more efficient utilization of resources like energy and raw materials.

In order to point out the correlation of the resource consumption of a tool as well as it’s quality and benefits an integrated approach was required. The TEC-Project therefore follows the thesis that higher tool quality conducts to higher manufacturing costs but can amortize faster in the phase of utilization. Based on this assumption new business models allow the European tool making industry to differentiate itself from other competitors on the globalized market. The tool’s lifecycle costs are a promising approach to assess the resource consumption. It was questionable which factors strongly affect the lifecycle costs and how their influence can be formalized.
The TEC-Project addresses this question. Structured in three consecutive phases a calculation tool was developed, which is able to forecast the lifecycle cost. In the first phase the lifecycle costs of a tool are analyzed and structured. Based on the previous results cause variables and measures for optimizing the lifecycle costs are derived, tested and validated in the second phase. In the last phase the calculation tool as well as business models are developed, which are using the benefits of the calculation tool to demonstrate the added value to a customer.

The result of the first phase is a detailed list of all cost drivers in a reference lifecycle of an injection molding tool. The reference lifecycle consists of four main phases development, manufacturing, utilization and recycling. The main phases are divided into two to eight sub-phases. Furthermore the share of costs in every phase is assigned to the sub-phases. The result of the second phase is a list of all relevant tool parameters in the lifecycle. By varying these tool parameters every possible tool configuration can be modeled: Dimensions, surface properties, concept of ventilation, degree of standardization, concept of injection, tool mechanics, tool design, geometry and material properties form the quality clusters of every tool. The results of the first two phases therefore are the inputs for the Resource Consumption Calculation Tool (RCCT). In the third phase a correlation matrix between the quality clusters and the cost drivers of the phases and sub-phases as well as an algorithm is developed to enable a dynamic utilization of the RCCT.
The RCCT can be used by toolmakers as a fundament for future decisions and to forecast the influence of customer-related tool adjustments on the lifecycle costs. The application of the RCCT is not only meant to be company internal but to be used at the product development, the interface of customer and toolmaker. The possibility to individually customize the tool’s lifecycle costs to customer’s needs is a criterion of differentiation for the European tool making industry, which supports the marketing of high-quality tools. Further potentials of optimization arise from the interfaces between supplier, manufacturer and customer.
The research work of the TEC-Project addresses the problem of opaque lifecycle costs and the resource costs of high-quality tools, which accompany the first-mentioned and are difficult to justify. The results of the project meet the objectives of the proposal. Research was done without any significant deviation from the specifications of the work plan and with the requested and granted financial contribution. Due to delays in the phase of the RCCT validation the project was extended by 6 month with unchanging costs. The objectives of the project were achieved.

For queries and further information feel free to contact the research departments via the contact form. The final report can be requested at the research coordinator FQS.

Share to Google Plus
Share to Google Buzz