Monitoring Molds & Dies for Quality Parts in the Automotive Industry
Updated: Jan 5
The automotive sector needs to fill a void, a void created by poor real-time monitoring of production data.
Some 30,000 parts are needed to manufacture a single car; a complicated process involving hundreds to thousands of suppliers sourcing discrete components. To create safe and well-designed vehicles, you have to combine the efforts of all the players in the supply chain: the suppliers, distributors, toolmakers, the OEM.
The problem is that keeping track of this supply chain is overly complicated. Data is encapsulated in pages of spreadsheets. Often, suppliers lack the time to update information on parts produced, cycle times, maintenance completed, etc. OEMs may receive data that might not be accurate nor timely.
This makes it difficult for automotive OEMs to keep track of their suppliers’ activities especially when they have suppliers operating their molds and dies all around the world. This is especially bad since OEMs won’t know if their parts are being produced under suboptimal conditions.
The last thing any company wants is millions of vehicles being recalled because of faulty parts. Product recalls, reassigning production, retesting, scouring the supply chain… just one subpar part could force OEMs to do some or all of these and incur millions of dollars’ worth of costs in the meanwhile.
To reduce the costs of production, most OEMs in the auto industry outsource some parts of their manufacturing to suppliers across the world. However, many of them still lack visibility into their suppliers and tooling and are unable to benchmark their supplier’s performance.
Crucial to OEMs’ success is doing business with suppliers who use their toolings properly and producing the best quality parts. The most important questions to ask are, how do I know the quality of that part before a problem occurs, and how do I find the source of my problems after discovering there were issues. Although suppliers are entrusted by OEMs with their tooling to produce the components, there are times that these suppliers want to produce it faster in order to keep a higher margin and stay on schedule, but one hiccup in the process could lead to a huge problem after the vehicle has been produced and is in use.
Recently an increasing number of large automotive OEMs have recalled vehicles due to quality reasons such as faulty airbags, emission problems or faulty brake switches. These recent cases alone have resulted in millions of vehicles being recalled, 180 injuries and 20 deaths, and OEMs have paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in settling consumer loss claims. In these cases, just one faulty part could lead these companies to go into bankruptcy or collapse and a huge loss of their brand value. The inability to conduct proper auditing due to the lack of data and knowledge within an automotive company’s supply chain could really damage the momentum they have created.
What To Do Then?
Automotive companies need to capture their production performance, and they need to do it accurately and in real-time. What better way to do it than by monitoring the activity of the tooling -- or the mold or die -- itself?
IoT tooling management is about automation and data exchange with every party involved in auto manufacturing. A fully integrated and connected tooling monitoring system can adapt to a fast changing and dynamic environment. Let's say, at a supplier’s facility the actual cycle time may exceed the recommended cycle time, resulting in a higher risk of faulty parts produced. If the company was alerted of such abnormalities, that exact batch could be reexamined to be deemed appropriate for use or be scrapped before a problem arises.
Having historical and real-time data from tooling available to OEMs, is essential to make an informed decision on which suppliers to stick with, and ultimately how confident you are about the quality of your parts produced internally and externally. Monitoring your suppliers will stop them from over speeding the production schedule and lead to better risk mitigation. This will encourage suppliers to better plan and OEMs will be alerted prior to any potential quality issue. This data allows for auto companies to have forward visibility and choose partners who they can rely on to collaborate with when designing, producing and rolling out their new line of vehicles.
Having complete understanding and access to data in the auto supply chain will ensure that no faulty part causes vehicles to put people in danger or harm the reputation of OEMs. Book a 30-minute meeting to learn how you can help your company to prevent disasters in quality.