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Moving Tooling

Dave Charbauski

During your time as a casting buyer, it is highly likely you will be required to re-source the production of your casting to a different foundry. You may change suppliers for various reasons, such as your strategic sourcing plan calls for the consolidation of your supply base, poor supplier performance, or perhaps the foundry decides that your part no longer fits their process and has requested that you move the part to a different source. Regardless of the reason, the following should be considered to make the transition as painless as possible for everyone involved.

Once you have determined you will change the source, a purchase order should be issued to the foundry to package and ship the tooling. While it may seem obvious, you need to determine where you want the tooling shipped. You may want to have it shipped directly to the new foundry or returned to your location for consolidation before moving it to the new foundry.   

An important piece of information that you as a customer need to maintain is an accurate and detailed description of all the tooling you have purchased for a particular part number. Don’t count on being able to look back at old purchase orders for this description; many tooling orders I have seen over the years have only basic information, such as “Build required pattern equipment for part number A123.”  As an industry best practice, you should have a tooling data form that lists all equipment including photos of each tool.  You should also understand that you may not own some of the equipment that the foundry used to produce your casting.  Items such as core lifting fixtures, grinding jigs, generic chill patterns and certain types of gauges are general tools that are owned by the foundry and can be used on many different castings.

Once you have shipped the tooling to the new foundry, you should ask them to perform a tooling evaluation. This is often an exceptionally good time to schedule a visit to the foundry and review the tooling with the casting engineering team and to open lines of communication with the foundry. The evaluation will provide you with additional information and costs. Always work closely with your foundry supplier during the quoting and tooling evaluation process.

Do not be surprised when the new foundry quotes you a “rigging” charge. This is the required setup charge to adapt the existing tooling to fit the new foundry’s process.  For instance, both the old and new foundry may both use the green sand molding process, but due to the large variation in types of molding and core equipment each one uses to produce their castings, it is highly unlikely your tooling will be usable in the “as received” condition. There is also a chance that your existing tooling may not be adaptable and will need to be rebuilt.  

The tooling evaluation may also uncover cases where the tooling is worn to the point of needing high levels of maintenance to keep it in production condition. If this is the case, you should work with the foundry’s casting engineering team to determine if the tooling can be repaired or if it would be better to produce new tooling. 

Very often, the foundry you are moving out of will remove all the gating and risers from the pattern before they ship it to the new supplier. Don’t view this as a hostile action—all foundries need to engineer their gating and risering system to fit their unique process. With that in mind, the gating and risering could be viewed as proprietary information and foundries do not want to divulge their process to the competition. As the buyer of the casting, you need to be aware of this and help all suppliers protect their proprietary information.

This is the time to make sure both you and your new casting source understand and agree on all your special requirements and expectations, as well as the amount of sample parts you will need for evaluation. Also, agree on what types of dimensional inspection, metallurgical and soundness validation and reporting requirements will be required. If you are going to require any special tests on the casting samples, such as destructive testing for soundness, let the foundry know at this time.  

Moving tooling from one foundry to another does not need to be a painful or difficult process.  Remember that to minimize any surprises, it’s vital that you have open and honest communication with both the old and new foundry.        CS

Click here to view this in the January/February 2021 edition.