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IP protection and peace of mind don’t end with an NDA/NNN agreement or vetted supplier. Your tooling, such as plastic injection molds, are important IP for your business as they are instrumental for creating your products. So, how do you feel about a manufacturer keeping hold of them between productions?

Not only could they be being used without your permission (creating counterfeit goods and shortening the mold’s useful life), but they may be stored incorrectly, damaging your investment of many thousands of dollars!

Help is at hand…

injection mold tooling custody and management

What is the Tooling Custody & Management solution?

If you don’t want your supplier to have excessive freedom and leverage, we can help you by being the trusted custodian of your tooling and by performing inspections at key milestones.

It is part of our comprehensive offer when it comes to managing plastic injection tooling.

We help some of our clients by storing their tooling safely in our warehouse. We pick it up or receive it after a production run (noting what condition the tooling is in), store it securely, and then return it back to your supplier before the next one.

  • Any business where you have tooling for your products out there in the field. Rather than leaving tooling with a supplier, you can work with us to take control of it and store it securely between production runs.

    The main benefits are:

    • Make it impossible for the supplier to keep using your mold for their other customers
    • Make sure the tooling is securely stored
    • Keep the option to switch quickly to another manufacturer without the drama of announcing to the current supplier that you are pulling the tooling away

Yes, we usually follow this procedure, although it can be adjusted to suit each client’s needs where required. This is a collaborative effort, and you can see what we handle, actions your injection molding supplier needs to take, and what you (the buyer) should also take care of, too.

  • 1. BUYER: All tooling is already signed off as complete and ready for use in production (if this is not done yet, we can help you), and a contract has been signed authorizing the transfer of tooling. 
  • 2. BUYER: Tooling transfer plan including schedule is approved by all parties (the buyer, the injection molding factory, and Sofeast, the provider of custody service).
  • 3. BUYER: Provides documentation (including all tooling 2D drawings as well as 3D CAD data) to Sofeast.
  • 4. INJECTION MOLDING SUPPLIER: ensure transfer readiness (including rust protection, general packaging protection…)
  • 5. BUYER: arrange transportation to Sofeast’s custody facility.
  • 6. SOFEAST: on receipt of the tooling, the engineer unpacks & checks each tool against the documentation and against a tooling receipt checklist to ensure everything is correct and accountable for, leading to an inspection report. Also, provision of a simple receipt note to the transportation provider.
  • 7. SOFEAST: arrange for clean and safe storage in our custody facility (safely packed, easily retrievable, ready to be sent out next time).
  • 8. BUYER: provide a schedule of the next injection molding run to Sofeast.
  • 9. BUYER: arrange transportation from our custody facility to the injection molding factory; transportation company to provide a receipt.
  • 10. INJECTION MOLDING SUPPLIER: check the tooling condition and numbers, confirm receipt and good condition.
  • 11. INJECTION MOLDING SUPPLIER: start production.
  • 12. SOFEAST: audit the process, report a list of the main risks. We can send an engineer with a lot of experience in tooling and in injection molding for that technical process audit. This is highly advised the first time a factory makes a product for you. 
  • 13. SOFEAST: inspect the finished parts, report a list of defects and nonconformances. If you pay the supplier by letter of credit, we can issue the certificate as needed.
    • 14. Back to step 4.

Our main warehouse facility is 30 min away from Shenzhen airport in the Chang’an district of Dongguan (just next to Shenzhen), South China. Learn more about our facilities here.

Projects can vary, but we break down the different tasks into an itemized list with their own costs.

Here’s an example of typical activities that will be done throughout the tooling custody and management process to give you some idea:

  • # Tooling inspection (exclude reception service) in our Dongguan Facility

We do an inspection based on a 90+ point checklist.

  • # Receipt at our Dongguan facility + moving the tooling around to support the inspector

The inspection work itself (see above) is when tooling needs to be moved, and a few logistics operators will be needed all that time. A warehouse supervisor will also be involved to help manage this for some of the time. We will quote based on the size, weight, and number of the tools.

  • # Storage at our Dongguan facility

We will quote based on several elements:

We will estimate pallets required based on tooling weight and shape. We prefer to use an extra pallet instead of stacking tooling on top of each other to avoid damage. 

An electric forklift and some logistic operators’ time will be needed.

  • # Loading out of our Dongguan facility

We need some logistics operators, an electric forklift, and a truck, depending on the needs of the project.

  • # Process Management Audit at your supplier
    We advise this service the first time a plastic supplier uses certain tooling, to reduce the risk of issues.
  • # Final Random Inspection at your supplier
    Before you let a supplier ship a batch of products to you, make sure that batch reaches your requirements.

What does tooling custody and management cost?

As everyone’s tooling is different, suppliers are in different locations around China, and each project, basically, has unique needs (for example, you do want a final inspection but not a process management audit), we don’t provide a set price on site.

Rather we will give you an accurate quote based on your needs following a brief consultation.

Important note: your supplier needs to ensure the mold is fully dry and without rust. And, if we keep the mold for longer than 3 months, we’d suggest to apply a special treatment to prevent rust (the cost is just under 200 USD).

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