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Injection mold manifold suppliers selection

Prior to my current position I was the CEO of a hot runner manifold company. I also worked in the injection mold making world for 14 years. So my viewpoint is not just from my current position.

Then and now it comes down to a few key points to select manifold suppliers:

1) What is your experience with any given supplier? For example I see one injection molder swear by Mold Masters and their direct competitor swears by Incoe. Both molders are successfully making the same plastic parts for the same OEM. Yet each has confidence based on their individual experience with different manifold suppliers. Both with positive results.  

Moreover, I think that you will find regional areas where certain systems rein supreme solely because of the service team in that particular area. No manifold system is perfect and the more support that you can receive in a timely manner to alleviate issues, the better for the injection mold manufacturer/molder. Let's face it, for a majority of the injection molds still being produced in the U.S., TIMING is priority number one!

2) What is the manifold supplier specification from the injection molder? Focus on injection molder approval (must be on the supplier list to quote) and then meet with their injection mold makers just as this is who we are. When I worked on the mold maker side there was nothing worse than recommending a manifold supplier and then there was an issue. It then became my issue. Today most injection mold makers can't afford to take that risk in front of their customers.

3) Every company has its specialty products and services. I see this with our company and my competitors as well. For example I see side gating applications as a specialty of Mold masters and Ewikon. Both have great products in this arena. This does not detract from the other suppliers, rather these companies stand out for this application.

4) Through the years we have serviced a number of our competitors' products and I must be honest, in some cases the actual products are very similar. The difference you experience is these situations are: customer service, reaction time and competency of the service provided. But the most critical is the upfront quoting and engineering. Selecting the right product for the current application is key. This in most cases sets the manifold supplier apart from the competition.

5) In general the Synventive, Mold Masters, Husky and Incoe systems I have personally had my hands on are good products with great engineering and manufacturing (there are others with good products as well). In most cases when we find failures or performance issues it comes back to the initial design of the job and in 60% of those issues we find miscommunication from the injection molder, mold maker or manifold supplier in one combination or another.

At the end of the day business is about people and relationships. Those are formed from real experience, both good and bad.

In our situation we have made decisions not to expand in a specific region because the competitors service person is so good and that region with the majority of the potential sales. With such a strong relationship why would an injection molder switch as long as the other key features are taken care of (product, price, lead time and quality)?

In today's market there are segments that are growing and it creates increased opportunities for all suppliers to grow sales. In other segments (automotive) the volumes have shrunk significantly. So growing sales as a manifold supplier is a result in your competitive loosing existing market share that in most cases has already shrunk some 50%.

Knowing your customers, knowing their press#23 has a bad controller board that doesn't heat up past 435 degrees F is more important than ever before.

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