A takeover tool study – blood filtration systems for surgery
A leading medical device manufacturing firm, accustomed to only molding internally for more than thirty years, wanted to focus on its core capability and expand its assembly operations by outsourcing. They needed to find a new injection molder to take over and deliver an extensive project within 90 days for a crucial blood filtration and dialysis platform.
The Spectrum Plastics Group began with a capabilities overview at the company’s facility, then rallied their internal forces from the project management team to the tool room, securing rock-solid communication and delivery expectations. Following an informal audit of Spectrum's Minneapolis facility in March of 2013, the program was awarded one month later.
The aggressive timeline presented the biggest challenge. A schedule of 90 days in qualifying time for over 35 tools and in excess of 85 part numbers was demanding and not always easy for the team. Spectrum answered by establishing complimentary daily deliveries and ensuring flexibility in providing what was asked for; when answers were needed quickly, Spectrum reacted quickly.
Another challenge was that many of the tools had aged -- some were over twenty years old – and then there were the multiple interchangeable inserts in the tools that made up for the larger part number amounts. Roughly ten percent of the tooling required updates, because the customer had been molding internally for so long. So quality and performance issues also cropped up that were not anticipated. It was a test of the tool room’s organizational skills to keep track of everything the project entailed, and they took charge in ensuring constant communication to accommodate the speed and precision required in running the parts.
There was also an emotional aspect to the project and developing relationship; it was a difficult time due to recent loss and change of personnel on the customer’s end. Again, the Spectrum Plastics Group ably managed a very delicate situation through considerate and regular contact.
The material may have been standard, however the finished product was anything but. Using polycarbonate and polypropylene thermoplastic polymer solutions, Spectrum produced the parts on time and on budget. The collaboration generated two key objectives: products that are truly critical to surgery and kidney dialysis work and blood filtration, and a remarkable working relationship between the companies that had been established through expertise, flexibility and communication.