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Industrialization and zinc die casting: phases and processes
Industrialization of the product is a very delicate phase in the process of production of zinc alloy die casts: in fact it is in this phase that, after receiving the order from the customer, all the procedures that are necessary to start mass production are defined.
Industrialization of the product in zinc die casting
Industrializing a product means facing the entire design process taking into account the functional, qualitative and aesthetic specifications of the customer and of the construction technology, which in this case is the hot camber die casting of zinc alloys.
The industrialization of the product is therefore a complex process composed of various phases in which various departments intervene. Let’s analyze the delicate process that leads to mass production.
Already in the RFQ (Request For Quotation) phase, therefore still in the commercial phase, the project proposed by the customer is evaluated and analyzed in order to present an offer. Afterwards, once the sales process has been completed and the order from the customer has been received, the most substantial and vertical activities are undertaken. One of these activities is, for example, co-design: a phase in which the technical departments of the customer and of the supplier work together to optimize the product.
The study undertaken on the product, the co-design activity mentioned above, makes it possible to propose a series of activities aimed at increasing value and reducing costs, both as regards the product and the production process. The work carried out at co-design level culminates with the drafting of Design for Manufacturing, called in technical jargon DFM, a document that defines the most suitable shapes for the production process of the die cast and the tools that are necessary in the different phases of the process: mold, automations, frame for superficial treatments and others.
For a definition of DFM approved by the scientific community and for additional related information we recommend visiting the Society of Manufacturing Engineers website.
It is important to underline how the modifications suggested in this phase not only concern the aesthetic aspect or the functionality of the product, but also the resolution of problems emerged during the study phase: whether they are at product level, such as critical areas and deformation or too narrow tolerances, or at process level, for example it could be necessary to find alternative solutions for the configuration of the mold extractors.
For further information on DFM we suggest you to read the article Product design for die casting: how to speed up and optimize your DFM.
Once this initial phase has ended, it is time to bring together for a second time all the actors involved in the process with a meeting called kick off. The kick-off is the moment of the launch, typically it is a meeting called by the Project Manager in which all the departments involved in the realization of the project come together to discuss the production aspects. During the meeting, conducted by the Project Manager, the following areas intervene:
- Design: designers highlight the critical aspects of the product and the solutions identified at design level
- Quality: on the basis of the observations of the designers it identifies the elements on which it will have to focus its attention and the kind of analysis that it will be necessary to undertake to guarantee the respect of the requirements of the customer
- Production: it evaluates the technical aspects of the productive process and the relative criticalities, establishing machines, automations and processes necessary for the realization of the product
- Logistic: it manages the warehouse and its critical issues and the shipping of the goods to the customer
- Sales and marketing department: oversee communication with the customer at every stage of the project life, providing feedback on the progress of the processes
Kick-off is a very important moment because at the end of the meeting all the departments are ready to act together for the success of the project. At the end of the kick-off is therefore possible to start the construction of the tools necessary for production.
During sampling phase the first samples, defined first off tool, are created. It is in this phase that the die casting mold and all the tools that will be necessary during mass production phase are tested.
All production departments contribute to the evaluation of the samples that are subsequently sent to the customer in order to obtain the approval.
Samples allow the verification of the compliance of the product to the requirements of the customer and the necessary analysis are undertaken by quality department and afterwards by the customer.
Samples, beside die casting process, can undergo different kinds of treatments. In some cases raw parts are sent to the customer, in other cases mechanical operations or superficial treatments are necessary.
In the case of superficially processed samples, external suppliers are involved. In this case it becomes necessary to carry out checks on the products arriving from suppliers and consequently on those delivered to the customer. In fact, it is important to monitor quality throughout the entire supply chain so as to guarantee to the customer products that are always compliant and that have passed strict controls.
If sampling is aimed at the analysis of the quality and the dimensions of the samples the pre-series allows the verification, on a reduced scale, of the compliance to the established standards for the productive process.
In pre-series phase in fact the products are created with all the techniques and the processes that will be undertaken in phase of mass production allowing the verification of cycle time, of the production capacity of the plant and the respect of the parameters set in design phase.
Since the runs of the pre-series are limited and sometimes the product or the mold have to be subjected to modifications, in zinc alloys die casting it is advisable to carry out the pre-series, and the previous sampling, with prototypal molds. The prototypal molds do not have the lifespan of the molds for mass production but they are more suitable for the execution of modifications.
Importance of collaboration
We have seen how in the industrialization of the product expertise from different departments intervene at different levels and in different phases of the process. The operative bonds between the different departments become particularly evident in this phase and they are decisive in the functions of coordination, timing, management of the resources and project management.
Moreover, in industrialization phase the collaboration goes beyond the boundaries of the company and it involves customers and suppliers. In fact, the process of co-design can be undertaken only together with the customer and it is thanks to collaboration with the latter that it is possible to establish strategies aimed at reducing costs and at optimizing the product.
Also the collaboration with suppliers becomes fundamental because only through a careful monitoring of the entire production chain it becomes possible to guarantee the quality of the products and to obtain the approval of the customer.
In this brief article we have described the phases that precede mass production of a component, then focusing on collaboration that is necessary for the success of any project, in particular in a delicate phase as the industrialization of a product.
In conclusion, we believe it is important to underline how, in this process, the Project Manager is a key figure that has to constantly monitor the processes and the contribution of every department verifying that, step by step, all the necessary operations are performed. It is only through the right collaboration that, in an articulate process composed by a number of steps, it becomes possible to achieve the goal in the best and efficient way.