The 'Black Box' of Manufacturing: Obscurity in Contract Manufacturing

Updated: May 7

Most global OEMs depend on external suppliers to produce products with their mold & die (tooling) assets. But due to the ‘Black Box’ phenomenon preventing communication, visibility, and efficient management OEMs suffer needlessly from high asset costs and inefficiency.


All too often, OEMs will have limited real-time access to data from molds & dies contracted out to suppliers. Herein lies the difficulty of monitoring and managing outsourced manufacturers, and it leads to all sorts of problems for OEMs. Because of this, manufacturers may find it difficult to answer questions like: Are my molds being used at appropriate cycle times? Are my assets being maintained properly? Will my parts be delivered on time?


There is, in effect, a ‘Black Box’ in manufacturing – a phenomenon where, because of the lack of real-time data-tracking, the goings-on of outsourced manufacturing is effectively obscured. This makes it difficult for OEMs to benchmark, optimize, predict, and prescribe their processes and suppliers in any meaningful way.

Issues that Arise from the ‘Black Box’

With the ‘Black Box’, access to real-time tooling data from external suppliers becomes infrequent, inaccurate, and sometimes even unavailable. This situation poses a clear risk to OEM supply chains. When problems arise, say in product quality or delivery, it is often the case where the OEM will be less-able to track the source of the problem amidst their complex supply chains.


For example, an external supplier working with an automobile company may have agreed to deliver the parts by next week, but suddenly, may end up failing to meet the deadline. Such instances are major and yet frequent problems for OEMs which could delay the entire production line. These delays, which are preventable with real-time data, cost OEMs in terms of loss of productivity, time, customers, and revenue.


Below are some other common problems the Black Box in the supply chain creates:

1. Communication Problems

  • OEMs are not updated on how many parts have been produced

  • OEMs are unaware of when their parts are expected to arrive

  • Unexpected late deliveries which lead to delays in product release

  • Molds and dies are moved to suppliers’ other facilities without notifying OEMs

2. Visibility Problems

  • Inability to track part quality of each batch and identify problem’s source when problems occur

  • Products are copied and produced outside OEM’s field of vision

  • Unavailability of real-time data for preventive maintenance

  • Cannot benchmark toolmakers and suppliers based on guaranteed number of shots, condition monitoring, and tooling performance.

  • Cannot track tooling utilization rates

3. Management Problems

  • Wasteful purchase of new tooling

  • Lack of efficient tooling management schedule

  • Inability to strategically optimize total tooling costs


As you can see, there is much room for improvement regarding the issue of ‘Black Box’ and its resulting problems. However, the good news is that there are solutions out there aiming to solve these problems for you.

Solving the Black Box Through 'Tooling Digitalization'


The solution to the ‘Black Box’ phenomenon is accessing real-time data through the tooling digitalization paradigm. Enabling this allows OEMs to track their toolings (molds, dies) and tooling-related data, monitor supply chains with greater granularity, set up maintenance, benchmark supplier compliance, save costs, and more.

In essence, the value derived from 'tooling digitalization' can be summed up in the following:

  1. A centralized system for mold & die management, monitoring tooling activity in real-time

  2. Production scheduling and on-time part delivery

  3. Benchmarking suppliers and toolmakers, creating an end-to-end communication channel involving all stakeholders

What eMoldino Can Provide to You


Here at eMoldino, we have learnt to understand what OEMs, suppliers, and tooling engineers want. We have learnt the needs from each stakeholder and built the best capabilities for solution implementation. We’ve also gained experience in globally rolling out our solution for OEMs’ tooling management.


Our clients range from Samsung to HP as well as Amore Pacific. Our innovative packaged solution includes a robust sensor technology and combines it with a cloud-based software system to ensure real-time data for accurate communication between all parties involved. Prevent the ‘Black Box’ issue and solve its problems through the digitalization of your tooling.

Talk to our solution experts to learn more about our solution, with no obligations.

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