Over moulding redesign reduces assembly time by 22% for marine safety lighting

When a life saving product is sold, it must deliver. If poor manufacturing practices result in the product being unfit for purpose, it can damage the brand significantly as it puts lives at risk. Here’s how one leading marine electronics manufacturer reversed this very issue.

27th January 2017

A low cost manufacturing country seemed to be the perfect way to reduce moulding costs

When a manufacturer of life critical marine safety lighting products needed to reduce manufacturing costs to stay competitive; the obvious answer appeared to be ‘move the plastic moulding overseas’. By manufacturing the existing product overseas the bottom-line costs hit the desired price point to keep their product competitive in this lucrative sector.

Overseas moulding facility tolerances resulted in near disastrous consequences

When the manufacturing of this life critical electronics product was placed overseas, the brief and quality standards were very clear. However design issues and inconsistent manufacturing quality resulted in leaks from ill-fitting parts. Despite being only 3 years into the anticipated 10 year life cycle of the product in question, the marine safety brand needed to quickly take action to rethink their manufacturing process.

Tex Plastics were appointed to manage the design of the next generation product

Having lost faith in the overseas plastic injection moulding company, the client approached Tex Plastics. Driving them was Tex Plastics manufacturing capability and reputation for innovative thinking, quality and successful project delivery. The next generation replacement needed to incorporate certain design enhancements. However it also faced the ongoing challenge of having to be competitive in the marine safety sector.

Engineers worked to understand the issues and rethink the moulding design

Tex Plastics worked with the customer to fully understand the entire process, starting with the products core functionality. Then reviewed every stage of the manufacturing process from moulding and assembly to final packaging. The Tex Plastics design engineering team applied ‘lean manufacturing techniques’ to the redesign process. The redesign incorporated an ‘over moulding’ technique which had the added benefit of eliminating several areas of waste identified within the current assembly process.

Improved processes, reduced inventory plus a 22% reduction in assembly time

Because the design engineers had a direct understanding of the complete process and previous manufacturing issues, they were able to take a holistic review of costs. Tex Plastics developed innovative seal designs to overcome the leak issues using a technical ‘over moulding’ technique combined with innovative foam sealing technology. This combination had the added benefit, that the design incorporated ‘one-time’ fixings and used technical polymers which added to the strength of the unit. This in turn resulted in a significant reduction in handling, thus cutting labour costs and making assembly times quicker. In addition, the redesign reduced the inventory of ‘bought out parts’ for the new product when compared against the design it was replacing.

A more expensive plastic component had the impact of significantly reducing overall costs

Although the Tex Plastics designed part was more expensive ‘piece per part moulded’ the total manufacturing cost of the completed product was significantly less. This was because reviewing the whole manufacturing process identified the most significant cost savings were to be made by reducing assembly times. The redesigned mouldings and change of polymer also improved the part quality to a 100% pass rate.

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