80 percent reduction in design errors brings mold quality up to international standards
Huawei ARRK Mold
Creating molds to highly exacting specifications
Challenges posed by global customers
Huawei ARRK Mold Co., Ltd. (Huawei ARRK) is a large injection mold enterprise specializing in the design and manufacture of molds used to manufacture electrical appliances and automobiles. With more than 700 employees, the company’s annual production value is over 300 million RMB (45 million USD). As one of the largest injection mold makers in China, the company is committed to providing domestic and international customers with high-quality, competitive products within the shortest timeframe possible. Its long-term objective is to become the customer’s top choice and permanent partner.
Huawei ARRK has built a team of outstanding professional designers and experienced mold makers. In addition, continuous technological innovation has given the company some of the most advanced mold making equipment in the world, enabling it to deliver high-precision, state-of-the-art molds. Currently, it has the capability to produce 600 sets of molds per year.
In 2005, Huawei became a member of the ARRK Group, the world’s largest mold maker. Cooperation with ARRK has resulted in advanced management concepts and additional mold making expertise. It has also allowed the company to expand its customer base internationally.
When Huawei ARRK first started dealing with international customers, it learned that these companies’ technical requirements vary dramatically from those of Chinese companies. International customers have strict requirements for manufacturing quality, mold appearance, and turnaround time. They also require the use of international standard parts, and that physical molds are consistent with their 3D digital representations and detailed acceptance criteria. The penalties for violating contract provisions can be financially severe.
Study showed limits of old process
In spite of these challenges, when Huawei ARRK had the opportunity to make molds for one of the world’s leading auto parts suppliers, Faurecia, it didn’t hesitate, even though those molds had to comply with the stricter standards.
Huawei ARRK performed an in-depth study to determine what the company would need to do to meet the new challenges posed by the work for Faurecia. Realizing that 60 to 80 percent of the factors affecting mold quality arise during the design phase, and that even minor mistakes during design can increase costs and reduce profits, a highly accurate design process was determined to be key to the success of the new venture.
The study also revealed that neither the current design software nor the design process were adequate to meet the new challenges. In addition, the expertise of the company’s mold designers varied widely and there was no consistency across their work. Even when they were designing parts with the same function, for example, designers created the parts differently, according to their own design styles. This was an issue the company tried and failed to eliminate with its original design software. Finally, the sequential nature of the design process, along with the need to translate data at various stages, made the design cycle too long and introduced the possibility for errors.
Comprehensive software, standardized process
Following an extensive evaluation and software comparisons, Huawei ARRK replaced the previous program with NX™ software from Siemens PLM Software, purchasing it through the local Siemens platinum partner, Nanjing Zhixiang Technology Co., Ltd. “Siemens PLM Software provided a complete mold design solution in NX,” says Zhou Xiao Wei, project manager at Huawei ARRK. “And the Siemens partner, Zhixiang Technology, provided excellent training and after-sales support, which helped us improve our designers’ skills and develop better collaboration internally.”
Huawei ARRK has taken advantage of the NX open interface, programming tools and parts library to create a customized, and more importantly, standardized design process. “With NX, our mold design process is now simplified, automated and correct,” says Xiao Wei.
Because only the NX data format is used throughout the process – from design to simulation, and through to manufacturing – data translation and its potential for error are no longer a concern. Also, advanced functions within NX, such as direct modeling and simulation, have accelerated mold design and allowed for more rapid data exchange with the outside world.
The standardized approach based on NX is a huge improvement over the old design process. It allows for an entirely 3D design process, with 2D drawings spun off rapidly at the end of the design cycle. “Like a high-powered automobile, NX is 3D design software with superb performance,” says Xiao Wei. In addition, NX creates accurate bills of materials automatically, and the software supports advanced mold manufacturing methods, such as high-end, NC machining, linear cutting, deep-hole drilling, and electric discharge machining (EDM).
Errors down, quality up
Since implementing the new mold design process based on NX, Huawei ARRK has seen its design error rate go down by 80 percent. Cycle times have also decreased. For example, the design of an automobile mold of moderate complexity takes 3 to 5 fewer days. Also, the amount of work needed to produce 2D drawings has dropped by 50 percent, even though the drawings now contain additional information, such as tool selection and feed rates.
Overall, since adopting NX, Huawei ARRK has improved mold quality and shortened the development period to the point where it can deliver the quality that international customers such as Faurecia require, while still meeting their aggressive delivery targets. “We were able to complete the Faurecia project to the high-quality specifications required,” says Xiao Wei. “And we delivered the molds to the customer on time.”
Huawei ARRK views its collaboration with Siemens and Zhixiang Technology as an important means of improving its competitive position. “We will continue to use NX to further our improvements in productivity and cycle times, as well as to reduce development costs,” says Xiao Wei.