How A Tooling Transfer In China Works With Sofeast 13 Steps Negotiating the tooling transfer process can be really hard for importers who are moving to a new Chinese supplier. And making it work in practice takes some planning.

It is far more complex than picking up and delivering a package. If you choose to work with Sofeast to help manage this process, here’s an example of plan that usually works well…

Let’s assume that you own the tooling/molds and everything is contractually ready for you to remove them and transfer them to your new supplier. You’re concerned about a number of things, such as whether your old supplier will release them and if they’re in usable condition.

Our engineers go on-site to handle the transfer and assure that the process runs without a hitch. Here’s our 13 step transfer process that we manage on the ground in China to assure that you’re in control and put you at ease.

Sofeast’s 13 Step Tooling Transfer Process

This process is split into two phases:

  1. Checking and pickup of molds/tooling from the current supplier & shipping to new supplier
  2. Delivery & testing the molds/tooling in the new supplier’s factory and completing the transfer

Phase 1: Checking and pickup of molds/tooling from the current supplier & shipping to new supplier

Checking and pickup of tooling from the current supplier

Step 1: Get information from you before we provide a quotation

  • The exact address of the pickup place and the delivery place – otherwise we can’t organise a van for pickup (a third party freight-forwarder is used to avoid any contact between old and new suppliers).
  • 2D or 3D files of the molds, if available.
  • Size and weight of the mold, OR dimensions of the products made with those molds (Note that, if we are unsure, we’ll have to arrange a large van to ‘cover all bases’ and this will impact on the cost accordingly).

Step 2: Get additional information from you after our quotation is approved

  • Contact information of the current supplier’s factory.
  • An idea of the precision (e.g. tolerance on the finished product) required – this way, if our engineer finds one or several of the molds is/are in very bad condition, those ones may not be picked up.
  • What happens if we see that a mold is in bad condition, but there is a chance some repair can get it back in working condition? Do we pick it up? (Note, it will only be an estimate.)
  • A copy of the notification sent to the current supplier’s factory about the tooling transfer, and a copy of their acceptance of that transfer (make sure we have the name & mobile phone number of the person who accepted it).
  • A photo of the packing material and packing way the current supplier’s factory promises to use, after our evaluation of the molds and before pickup of those molds.
  • The type of polymer used for making your products.

Step 3: Evaluation of the molds

  • Our engineer will look at the molds. We usually have to assume the current molder will not allow us to do trial shots in their facility (it would help in the evaluation, and if possible we would keep those trial samples, which would help the new molding supplier get started quickly).
  • If we have the 2D or 3D files, we can check if the molds are the right ones.
  • If we have samples, or at least photos and dimensions, of the products made with those molds, it will help a lot, as well.

Step 4: Attempt to collect information from current supplier

We will request the following:

  • Records about maintenance and repairs.
  • Setup guidelines.
  • The injection press tonnage and other details.
  • What spare parts there are, if any.

Step 5: Packing of the molds

  • We are assuming the current supplier’s factory will package the tooling appropriately to avoid damage and rust, and they will help transport them all the way to the van/truck.
  • Our engineer will not provide any document to them unless you let us know about that requirement in advance (we will send you an email with photos once the whole operation has been completed).

Step 6: Pickup of the molds

  • We are assuming the molds are probably acceptable, and it makes sense to send an engineer and then shortly after a van on the same day.
    Let us know if that assumption is not correct. (If we have to do it 2 times, we’ll have to send the engineer twice as well as they must confirm they’re the right molds in person for your assurance).


Phase 2: Delivery & testing the molds/tooling in the new supplier’s factory and completing the transfer

Delivery & testing the tooling in the new supplier's factory

The new supplier’s factory has been alerted that the molds/tooling are on their way and has the documentation that they require which was a part of the information gathered during phase one of the tooling transfer process.

Step 7: Unpack molds and check inventory

  • The tooling has been delivered. Has everything arrived at your new supplier’s factory in good order? We unpack the molds with them and check off each item against the inventory.

Step 8: Engineer checks molds against the transfer contract

  • Our engineer checks each mold against the transfer contract to assure that what has arrived is precisely what was sent.

Step 9: Create samples at new supplier’s factory using molds

  • The engineer will subsequently work with your new supplier’s factory to create initial test samples of your product/s using the newly-installed molds.

Step 10: Engineer checks initial samples against your signed-off samples

  • Finally, they cross-check the new initial sample/s with your signed-off sample to assess whether the molds are in working order and the new supplier is capable.

Step 11: New supplier signs a tool transfer contract and formally takes possession

  • After our engineer has confirmed that all tools have been accounted for, checked they are in good condition and are able to run in the factory’s machines, you (the buyer) and your new supplier need to sign tool transfer contract.
  • By signing the tool transfer contract, your new supplier formally accepts all tooling/molds, take responsibility for them, and acknowledges your ownership rights over them (among other clauses).

Step 12: Check mold storage facilities

  • Our engineer checks the facilities where your new supplier will be storing your molds to assure that they will be stored safely, correctly, and can be retrieved easily when required.

Step 13: Check tool maintenance capabilities

  • The engineer also checks your new supplier’s tool maintenance capabilities to ensure they have the skills and equipment in place to maintain your molds/tooling at the highest possible standard moving forward.


“What if I don’t have a new supplier yet?”

There are a couple of scenarios where you wouldn’t require phase 2 of the tooling transfer process to happen. Let’s examine those…

1. You haven’t confirmed your new supplier yet

You’re between suppliers, but you have decided to stop using your old supplier. It makes 100% sense to move your tooling/molds out of their factory, as they could be doing anything with them during this transitional period.
For instance, running an ‘off-the-books’ production run of your products that are then sold without your knowledge.
Hopefully, nothing like this would happen, but for security’s sake, it makes sense to be cautious.

In this case, we can simply perform phase one of the transfer and move your tooling out of your old supplier’s factory and store it securely in our own warehousing facility near Shenzhen, Guangdong province.

(By the way, we can fabricate your mold tooling and do the injection molding for your parts at our own tooling and injection molding workshop facility)

2. You wish to remove the tooling from your supplier’s factory between production batches

We can also remove tooling from a factory between two production batches and store it securely for you. There are a number of reasons that you may do this:

  • Your supplier is prevented from using them for other productions if there are trust issues (see above).
  • It gives you the option to change supplier more easily if that’s a possibility, as it is a great deal easier and more secure to transfer tooling from our facility as opposed to an old supplier’s.
  • You demand the highest possible security and do not allow your Chinese supplier to retain your tooling unsupervised or store it for any length of time at their premises (aside from when it is actually in use).

As a foreign-owned company that focuses strongly on transparency and IP protection (learn more about Sofeast), we appreciate that buyers have a certain amount of anxiety when it comes to tooling and IP that is in Chinese supplier’s hands half a world away. Our goal is, therefore, to provide the same level of care on the ground in China that you would expect in your own country.


Read more on this topic

You might also like these resources, too:

Get help with your mold and tooling transfer

Are you in a similar situation and unsure about how to proceed?

Sofeast has dealt with this before for many clients.

Just click here to speak with us. We’ll subsequently arrange a consultation to listen to your situation and suggest how we can help you.

About Renaud Anjoran

Our founder and CEO, Renaud Anjoran, is a recognised expert in quality, reliability, and supply chain issues. He is also an ASQ-Certified ‘Quality Engineer’, ‘Reliability Engineer’, and ‘Quality Manager’, and a certified ISO 9001, 13485, and 14001 Lead Auditor.

His key experiences are in electronics, textiles, plastic injection, die casting, eyewear, furniture, oil & gas, and paint.

This entry was posted in Tips for importers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *