Communication between suppliers and customers regarding new technology is a key component for companies trying to educate themselves and build their businesses.
A panel of four executives from the mold-making sector talked about their experiences in this and several other areas during an open forum at the International Rubber Molding Conference, held April 5-6 in Dearborn, Mich.
John Roembke, owner and CEO of Roembke Manufacturing & Design Inc. in Ossian, Ind., said mold manufacturers should tell their customers to bring in their materials and they can look at what style of tooling will be beneficial for their needs and what technology will provide the best return on their investment.
Each customer company has its own culture and that will determine what they will embrace, Roembke said. ``We're always willing to talk to our customers and listen to their concerns,'' he said.
Customers and suppliers constantly are learning from each other, said Harry Raimondi, technical services manager for Bales Mold Service Inc. in Downers Grove, Ill. His company keeps its customers informed about how technology has changed and listens to their questions, he said.
The company discusses concerns-mold cleaning is a frequent one, Raimondi said-with its customers, asks questions back and does subject-specific presentations, whatever it takes to solve the problem.
Walter Koroluk, who works in North American sales and marketing for TechShop International in St. Mary's, Ga., said when it comes to technology one has to take all factors and results into account and not just the initial costs. Paul Britton, national sales manager, mold products, for International Mold Steel in Florence, Ky., agreed, saying companies can't rest on what they did 30 years ago.
``There's a lot of new technology out there,'' he said. ``One change in steel use can save millions of dollars. You have to look at the total process. You don't put $10,000 in coatings on a piece of junk.''
One problem is that some potential customers aren't willing to take the risks associated with finding new ways to do things, Koroluk said. These companies will go to the mold makers and press makers and put the onus on them to come up with solutions, and he doesn't believe that's the best way to attack a problem.
``We need input from the people who are on the production floor every day, and we need to work together on prototype and development work,'' Koroluk said.
Roembke said his company has walked away from some work where it doesn't believe the climate is right for technology changes. Depending on the level of responsibility a company is willing to take, mold makers have be ready to say ``no'' to potential business if it's not a good fit in the long run, he said.