Increasing the effectiveness of the tool development process through partnership

Sammanfattning: Partnership is about developing good business relations between two or more companies. It is a simple and effective working method that can be applied in many situations, including developing new products and associated tooling which is the focus of this thesis. The goal with partnership is not to have a cosy relationship between the partners; but rather as an effective way to make money using a simple working method. The work presented in this thesis is the result of a joint project between Luleå University of Technology and the Pressoform consortium. Pressoform was interested in applying the results in the tooling industry in Sweden and therefore funded the research. The aim of the work behind this thesis was to show that by implementing an effective working method, based on partnership, product development lead-times could be reduced without reduction in quality or increased costs. The specific domain of the work was the development process for form tools such as tools for injection moulding, die casting and sheet metal forming. The advantages with working in a partnership include the possibility to achieve a reduced lead-time and at the same time increase quality and reduce the cost by using an effective working method for developing new products. There are however risks with partnerships, it is a more expensive relationship to maintain, customers are more tightly bounded to suppliers. Another risk could be that the customers by tradition have looked for a power relationship, where they control the form of the relationship. On the other hand a partnership may result in customers and suppliers becoming too close and loose the business like attitude. Partnership is a long-term investment and a strategy for the companies involved to make more money in the long term. Personal relations and trust are important in a long-term strategy, since the companies expect to work together for a long period of time. Partnership should therefore only be conducted with companies that are trusted. In addition effective methods should be applied to speed up the development process for the product and tooling. The business process should be conducted without the traditional quotation process, since this is both time- and cost consuming. Instead of using quotes, buying tools on a cost plus basis is far more effective. The product development work must be conducted with active input from all the three parties. It should be conducted in teams to improve communication, the manufacturer and the tool manufacturer being involved in the team to give input in their expertise areas. Using 3D CAD software has been shown to reduce development lead times by 50% compared to using 2D CAD software. Of the five cases followed, a reduction in lead-time was found in three of them. In one case the project failed due to manufacturing problems whilst the last case focused on the effective product development process in general.