How to digitally transform injection molding

A big thank you to all those injection molding leaders and production managers who attended our webinar this month: “Transforming Manufacturing in Injection Molding.” If you missed it, it’s available on demand. Just click on the link to learn how we’re transforming injection molding shop floor processes from paper to digital, to deliver molders a leap in productivity, improved output quality, and climbing customer satisfaction rates. 

Drop paper, go digital

Stepping back a moment to look at the current state of the industry, most of us agree that profit margins are tight, while customer specifications are exacting and quality demands extremely high. We all want for our shop floor production to be totally efficient and right first time, every time, but we all know that in the real world, production delays do happen, as do simple but costly mistakes which force whole batches to be scrapped, at the cost of hours and even days of rework.

The webinar looks at how the continuation of paper-based shop-floor processes, in what now ought to be a digital world, must take some of the blame. In things like mold setup and tryout, teams are often over reliant on multiple paper-based documents, emails and spreadsheets, along with being dependent on the know-how of a few key individuals who might not be easily located on the day you need them. In our webinar, we look at how some injection molders, such as TKW Molding have gone digital in these things – implementing TimeSeries Digital Shop Floor, to the acclaim of production crews and admiration of customers.

A software-driven world

Maybe you’ve heard of Gartner? They are probably the number one analyst group and thought-leader in the world of information technology. Very relevant to injection molding, Gartner subscribes to the idea that today, we all live in a software-driven world; not only as consumers, but increasingly too in the way business is conducted. Your customers and employees are so familiar with the digital world in their home lives, that when at work, they expect easy digital interaction and efficiency there too. But in manufacturing, many firms are lagging behind. Their slow digital awakening is costing them money, customer loyalty and potentially market position as digitally savvy competitors disrupt their world. 

When it comes to deciding where to innovate digitally, we talk in the webinar about the Gartner Pace Layer Model. It explains the strategic thinking around where rapid digital innovation can add competitive advantage and real value to businesses (systems of innovation), and where on the other hand, systems need to be highly stable and change best handled slowly and with precision (systems of record).  A crucial point to understand is that in most organizations, the demand from business teams for systems of innovation far exceeds the ability of IT to develop and deliver them. This brings us to using off-the-shelf software and external developers. 

TimeSeries Paperless Shop Floor

Back to the webinar. Having presented Gartner’s model, I look at systems of innovation for injection molders and introduce the TimeSeries Injection Molding Suite. Going into detail on one module, TimeSeries Paperless Shop Floor, I describe how this specific application can help you significantly improve factory workers’ adherence to best-practices around mold tryout, machine setup and operation (as well as material handling). Spotlighting our customer example of TKW Molding (automotive safety components and consumer goods products), I discuss how the application delivers higher productivity, compliant manufacturing and reduced liability risk.

One thing I highlight for those who are familiar with how software applications are written is that our whole molding suite is written in Mendix. Mendix is a low-code development platform and a great improvement on traditional code-based approaches when it comes to supporting digital innovation. Mendix allows us to easily customize TimeSeries Paperless Shopfloor for the bespoke needs of your factory. We tailor the app to perfectly fit your requirements in usually just a couple weeks. 

In the webinar, I’m grateful to my colleague Christian Sönnichsen, who gives us a brief demonstration of TimeSeries Paperless Shop Floor from the point of view of a production manager. If you’ve not seen the application before, it’s a great chance to see how you can set up and mandate processes for your production crews and how easily they can access all the information they need (on any device) to follow those instructions and optimize production.

Watch the webinar on demand.

A few questions answered

The webinar includes a Q&A session on TimeSeries Paperless Shop Floor. Here’s a quick summary: 

Q: How scalable is Paperless Shop Floor? How many users can it serve
A: Paperless Shop Floor is a highly scalable, highly secure Cloud-based application (although it’s also available on premise if you prefer). It’s written in Mendix, a low-code platform where we’ve examples of applications in other industries being accessed by up to 30,000 users. Effectively, scalability of the app in the world of manufacturing is not an issue.

Q: What sort of cost savings are molders making, using the application
A: The savings being made by specific customers is confidential. However, normally our customers gain pay-back of the annual license fee within just three to four months of going live. The biggest savings come from more efficient use of manpower on the shop floor, faster machine setup and Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) as well as reduced scrap/rework and customer complaints. 

Q: If we licensed the application, could we access the source code and make modifications ourselves?
A: Most of our customers leave everything to us. The application is written in Mendix low-code, a very flexible development environment. Assuming you subscribe to our Cloud version, we are continually upgrading it, accommodating your requests and the common requests of our customer base.  We employ skilled Mendix developers who are also very knowledgeable of the manufacturing environment and we recommend you take advantage of this. But if you really did want to develop the application yourself then you would need our permission, Mendix-skilled developers and an appropriate Mendix license.

Q: Will the application interface with our MIS, ERP and other key systems?
A: Yes it will. The application offers REST APIs, meaning we can interface to almost anything that’s IT  

Q: Is there a demo version we can try?
A: Yes, we offer an accompanied / guided demo. You can then arrange a trial. We then like to guide you until you’re up-to-speed.

Q: How does licensing and pricing work?
A: Our customers usually start with a trial. Licensing is then an annual subscription. Pricing is based on which modules you wish to use, across how many machines (machine numbers being a better guide than users, to the value the application is able to deliver for you).

Enjoy the webinar! Do get in touch via our contact page if you’d like to talk about your factory and how we might help.

May 17, 2021
Tilo Schultz