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1*1    The REAL Cost of Your Mold
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  As a Tool Shop we often face the issue of competition from "non-American" tool sources.  First, let us say that we are NOT afraid to compete - we are confident in our quality, our delivery, and in our price.  The problem is that every mold has TWO COSTS - the cost you pay NOW, plus the cost you pay LATER.  Too often a Purchaser only considers the up front or initial cost without considering the additional costs that they will incur later during the mold build and production run.  

  Obviously you want a mold to produce the desired part, delivered by the specified date, for a specified price BUT have you considered such things as the mold construction techniques? Which can result in a mold that runs at optimum cycle or one that results in a slower cycle.  Have you considered shipping costs? Design Change costs? Rework costs to get your mold up to optimal production standards?  Have you considered the materials being used? Steels? Are standard components being used that can be easily replaced or are oddball components being used that will have to be custom made and take weeks to replace instead of days?  All these factors and more are combined to establish a REAL Cost that includes BOTH the "now" and "later" costs.  Quoted (initial) mold prices from offshore sources can be lower than American sources by as much as 30% to 40%, however, molds built offshore tend to have much more of these additional "later" costs than molds that we build.  These "downstream" costs often match and even exceed the amount that you originally "saved"  - so in the end you pay virtually the same amount but have the risk of more headaches and an inferior quality tool. Please click here to download an Excel Spreadsheet that helps you calculate the REAL Cost of your mold.  Consider the following...

Travel
  Some of our customers who have tried offshore mold sources have admitted to having some serious problems.  We have been told:  "Language differences and the long distance are major obstacles.  To overcome the distance problems, someone (a tooling engineer) has to virtually live in the vicinity of the tool shop to answer questions, monitor progress, and make sure that the mold is being built to the agreed upon specifications (including making sure the proper tool steel is being used).  Many offshore shops are notorious for substituting inferior quality, softer steels.  If a tooling engineer is not on site, it is necessary that he must visit the shop frequently.  Trip costs quickly erode any hope of savings".  Although many of our customers are comfortable in issuing us a Purchase Order and simply waiting for the mold to appear on time, they admit they would never be so trusting of a foreign tool supplier!

Rework
  When considering if you should use our shop or an offshore source - remember to take into consideration all the factors in bringing the mold to optimum production standards.  Many molds come to the United States needing rework and engineering changes to bring them up to optimum production conditions.  One customer told us that: "Once the mold is "finished" and shipped here to the U.S. there are several more tryouts and changes needed to bring it up to our standards, all that rework quickly eats up any cost or lead time savings that we had.  Molds built in offshore mold shops seem to need more tryouts and changes to get them right than molds built at Fehrman's".  All this adds up to the fact that more time could be lost  on your program than you originally planned - lost time and lost production often results in lost sales as well.  Many purchasing agents who purchase molds from offshore sources say that it takes about 10 to 20% of the price of the mold to bring it up to U.S, production standards.  At our shop many small adjustments and fine tuning changes are done free of charge.

Maintenance
  Maintenance is also a factor in the REAL Cost of the mold.  We have been told numerous times that a mold built offshore seems to require much more maintenance  than an American built mold.  The life of your mold should be a major consideration - You want your mold to lasts throughout the entire life of the program.  Many of the molds that we have built over a decade ago (or two) are still in production today!

Design Changes
  Another consideration is Design Changes.  Many molds must be modified after the initial build because of part design changes, this seems especially true of automotive parts.  It would be impractical to send an offshore mold back across the ocean for a Design Change, therefore, changes performed on foreign built molds will cost more because now you have to find an American source to work on your foreign mold.  Simply put, we can modify a mold that we built much easier that we could modify a mold that we had never seen before.  With our own mold we already have CAD data, Electrodes, Toolpaths, jigs and fixtures left over from when the tool was originally built that helps keep the both the cost and delivery time of the Design Change down .

Materials & Components
  A big factor in the performance of a mold is the materials used.  At Fehrman Tool we use only the best grade of tool steels, heat treated in-house to your specifications.  Offshore sources are often known for using inferior/cheaper grades of steel or steel that is softer than specified because it is easier to machine.  Even a well built tool can have serious problems if care isn't given to the types of materials used.  Materials effect cooling, wear conditions, corrosion resistance, as well as many other factors.  Many foreign built tools that we have seen have poor steel conditions and feature "like-steels" that wear on each other and result in severe galling.

  Also, American mold builders often try to use as many "standard" components as possible so that if a problem arises and a mold is damaged components can be purchased "off the shelf" at minimal cost and minimal delivery time.  Many of these components can be shipped "next-day" from companies like DME, Progressive Components, PCS, and BMS.  This is critical because foreign components can often takes weeks instead of days to be received and could seriously impact your production.  Customers have told us that: "Offshore mold shops often use "oddball" or custom built components instead of standard parts like U.S. Moldmakers use".  Custom made pieces are more expensive and time consuming to replace.  

Finally
  We are not afraid to compete as long as our customers have ALL the facts, and the fact is when you combine all the extra costs and issues that surround an offshore built mold you quickly find that you are paying virtually the same amount (or even more!) for the offshore mold as you would have for an American built mold, and you have the added disadvantage of more hassle and (typically) less quality.  Common sense tells you that you get what you pay for - so why not order a quality American mold to begin with and save yourself some headaches. We stamp every mold we build with the phrase "Built with Pride in the USA"... and we mean it!

If circumstance prevent you from using our shop, please consider another American Moldmaker.  U.S. Moldmakers continue to build the best molds anywhere in the world!

Please click here to download an Excel Spreadsheet that helps you calculate the REAL Cost of your mold.  You can use this worksheet directly in Excel or you can print it off, make copies, and use it as much as you like with our compliments!



* Much of the information above comes from our own experience, as well as statements and quotations from our customers, and statements from the American Mold Builders Association.




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