We were approached by Toyota UK to provide packaging solutions for a new model about to go to manufacture. Individual parts can be manufactured and assembled into sub-assemblies all over the world and then shipped in on a "just in time" timed system.
The packaging project team needed to get boxes and trays made and tested prior to the first pre-production trial. The problem they had is that whilst CAD data exists they do not necessarily have access to it, and if they do it may be an out dated version as updates and improvements are made all along the line right up to the pre production trials, and beyond if they find a problem.
Previously they would go to one company to have a laser scan of the part done, then onto another to get it converted into CAD data. The CAD data was then passed onto a prototype mould maker to make a test tool for a small number of trays to be made. This tool then had to be transferred to a plastic manufacturer, and if any problems existed the packaging team had to go back to through all or part of the process.
We recreated the CAD and then created a plug for vacuum forming the part. As a prototype tray we knew we needed to try different thickness, we made the tooling to be correct fit, function and form at 2mm then tested 1.5mm and 2.5mm sheet knowing the 2mm sheet would demonstrate the intended fit and the 1.5 and 2.5mm ones would demonstrate if the thinner cost saving material would be fit for use or indeed if the 2.5mm was the better option as cost is critical when producing 1000's of parts.
When Toyota came to us, by chance, they soon realised that we could do all the processes under one roof, including the production run of up to 2000 trays per part. A significant benefit is if a problem occurred at any stage we can immediately go back to the stage before and modify the design and process accordingly. This reduced the turn around time to less than 14 days, for the complete process, previously the hoping from one company to the next took 14 days per stage. Significantly any post pre-production test run changes, to any part, we are able to scan and decide if the original tooling and trays needed any modification, to be remade, or that the original tool had enough space to accept the revised part.
Packaging for part's shipments
- Stage One Laser scanning of the supplied part in our automated cabinet scanner gave us good clean data within a hour.
- Stage Two This scan data wasn't cleaned up we simply redrew the part using the scan as our guide as we only needed the outer shape.
- Stage Three The part's CAD data was then used to design a plug, knowing we needed to test different thickness.
- Stage Four Now we had the plug design the next process was to create the cutter paths for CNC machining.
- Stage Five The CNC milling of the test plug takes place on our 2.5m by 1.25m machine.
- Stage Six The test plug is fitted to our vacuum former, starting with the mid thickness we manually operate the machine, watching each stage and noting the times down for later production.
- Stage Seven The completed formed prototype trays hand trimmed, production runs will use a Robot trimmer, We assemble the trays into outer box fit the part and send it to the customer for approval.