Tool planning encompasses those activities associated with establishing a detailed, comprehensive plan for the design, development, implementation, and prove-in of program tooling based upon a visible corporate policy and structured around a documented practice. Tooling is of greater significance to the success of a production project than many prime item designers are aware. Production tooling is conceived and designed by a phase developmental approach just as is prime hardware. Evidence that one phase is completed prior to the beginning of the next phase should be one of the basic understandings. There are four fundamental phases in tooling design, namely: (1) conceptual design development, review, and approval; (2) preliminary design development, review, and approval; (3) detailed design development, review, and approval; and (4) fabrication, tool tryout, and acceptance. A phased development approach ensures that all interested parties are adequately informed and have an early and continuous opportunity to influence the design to ensure that the production tooling (1) will support the prime hardware at production rates; (2) is consistent with other program objectives such as production test; and (3) is producible. It is important to note that production tooling design is not a series task with the design of prime hardware. Key manufacturing personnel can provide vitally-needed input to prime equipment design in the conceptual phase.
Thus, there is an interaction between the prime equipment and the tooling required to produce it. A common pitfall is to ignore the synergism of that interaction.
To ensure that the tooling philosophy and practices are uniformly applied throughout the project, a firm requirement for plans, reviews, and demonstrations must be included in each subcontractor's statement of work. A strong working relationship must be established so that complete visibility is maintained of the subcontractor's tooling efforts. Adequate, timely audits and reviews must be planned, and responsibility for them must be left solely to a purchasing organization. The success of transitioning to production and maintaining efficient production rates depends heavily upon the individual successes of the subcontractors involved. One subcontractor failure can cause the entire project to fail.
The importance of Proof of Manufacturing (POM) models
to the tooling endeavor cannot be overemphasized. Each tool must be rigorously
proven in prior to its incorporation into the manufacturing process. This
proving-in process verifies its performance and compatibility with the
specifications controlling it. Since tooling includes those devices, fixtures,
aids, etc., which are required to form, shape, fabricate, assemble, hold, or
handle, the prime equipment, or any part of it, it is obvious that tooling has
a great impact on cost, quality, and rate. This point alone justifies
collocating manufacturing engineers and tool designers with prime equipment
design personnel. It is not the intrinsic cost of the tools that is so
important (although for most projects, tooling is not an insignificant budget
item) but the leverage that good tooling wields in terms of production
man-hours and product quality - the greatest cost drivers of all!
Using POM models to ensure that the tooling is compatible with the prime equipment is one significant way to reduce risk. Since POM models are defined to be "functionally operational systems produced by hard tooling, complete planning, and production test equipment," they are the ultimate proof of the ability to produce at project rate, quality, and cost objectives. Earlier "prove-ins" of tooling use prime equipment produced on soft tooling. These earlier models cannot satisfy the needs of POM models. Many a project has suffered severely from this illusion. Establishing and maintaining strict configuration control of the tooling is important so that there is complete harmony between the tooling configuration and the prime equipment configuration. The change control system must apply to both tooling and prime hardware, otherwise items will be produced with obsolete tooling, delays in introducing changes will occur, and configuration accounting will become unmanageable - in essence, configuration control will be lost.
A vital adjunct to configuration control is inventory control. Each tool needs to be accounted for by location and responsible individual. This is simply stated, but cannot be left to chance that it is accomplished. An established routine for maintenance and periodic calibration is also necessary to ensure and maintain tool serviceability. A tool that is out of calibration or has subtle flaws is worse than a tool out of commission.