How to improve your operations with fastener engineering
June 7, 2022
By Bob Lund | Engineering Manager
By Bob Lund | Engineering Manager
Do you ever stop and think about fasteners that hold together your car? Your phone?
If you said yes, you might need a hobby. But if you’re like most people – including most engineers – the way things are held together isn’t something we think about too much.
And that could be a problem.
Because issues with fasteners can have a huge impact on quality, safety, and even total cost. No one wants to see a 10-cent fastener responsible for a problem with an end product that sells for thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, but we see that happening all the time, basically because fasteners so often get overlooked.
Something to think about
Not enough people think about how much there is that's involved in fasteners. Everyone assumes it's as easy as “righty tighty and lefty loosey.” They don't realize that if you have different strengths of fasteners, you need different tightening strategies.
You can have one set of issues if you under-tighten. You're probably going to see a fatigue issue in your fasteners where after a while, much like taking a paperclip and bending it back and forth and back and forth, it will eventually crack to the point where it pops.
If you over-tighten, you can stretch the metal and cause a whole different set of problems.
And then even using the right type of fastener for the job, there is a lot more to it than everyone would think. So, having us come and do a training can really help.
Ideally, our customers’ engineers leave our trainings saying, "Man, I never even thought about that. I guess there is more to it than I expected." For them, having that epiphany results in their leaning on our engineering team and what we have to offer them.
How Fastenal's engineers help
Working with our engineering team means you’re working with someone who’s an expert in the field. We have been down the path before, we’ve seen the mistakes, and we’ve worked with people specifically in your industry.
Because we have that experience, we’ve helped people with the same type of problems that you’re facing. Getting us involved can fix issues. Or you can get us involved upfront in the design work. Then we can help eliminate things before they start costing money.
That's really the takeaway here: The advantage is knowledge.
If everyone could afford to, they’d have a fastener engineer on their staff. But generally speaking, unless you're an automotive company or just a great big beast of a company, nobody has a fastener specific engineer.
So, we fill that role for free, essentially, for our customers.
Engineers like to tear things apart. While they have items apart, they look at the fasteners and other parts being used to see if there is a way to produce the same product for less money, or a better product for the same money.
Insert product teardowns. During teardowns, we focus on the fasteners and methods used to assemble the product. It's very common to find a wide variety of fasteners used in the same product – stainless fasteners next to zinc-plated fasteners, high-strength fasteners used in low-strength applications, or custom products used in applications where standard products would be sufficient. All are opportunities for cost savings.
When considering products for teardowns, we evaluate each situation to make sure that there’s not only good potential for cost savings in the product itself but also that the customer is committed to the project. We want the proposed savings to be realized rather than just looking good on a spreadsheet.
The importance of trainings
We really want our engineers to develop a relationship with the teams they work with. And the easiest way to develop a relationship with our customers’ engineers is to get a whole bunch of them in the room at the same time and show them something that can make their job easier.
What our trainings provide
Even when using the right fastener for the job, there are more things to think about... corrosion resistance, assembly methods, locking strategies, etc. So, having our engineering team do a training can really help.
The level of interaction we see after we do a customer training shows us that our customers appreciate having a technical reference available to them. From our standpoint, this is another service that we are able to add to their "Fastenal toolbox."
Start improving today!
Email us at Engineer@Fastenal.com