In certain business segments, time to market is paramount. Catalus deals in markets where parts are tooled and PPAP’ed up to a year before product launch. In other markets, especially where our customers are trying to gain a competitive edge, designs are fluid to a time well beyond what it normally takes to tool up a brand new part. As a result, when the design finally is frozen it is a race to the finish to get the tools and parts ready in time for launch.
In an effort to help reduce launch time on some parts, Catalus, in a joint effort with one of our customers, has put a process in place where tools are “roughed in” or finished to a certain point and then put on the shelf until the final design is released. In order to accomplish this, we had to sit down with the customer for each product family involved, and establish which dimensions will remain fixed and which dimensions are subject to change. We then sat down with our tool makers and established a complete bill of materials of the tool components needed for each product family. By understanding what dimensions are fixed and having the bill of material for the tools, we were able to establish how far we could take each tool component before the design is frozen.
By doing this and having a “bank” of roughed in tools, Catalus was able to significantly reduce the time required to launch a new part. While the total cost of building the tools this way may be slightly higher than starting and finishing a set completely, it is generally less than paying a premium to shorten the lead time for tools.
Catalus understands that this approach is not practical for all parts, but it serves as a prime example of how we can work with our customers to help achieve their overall goals.