Fasteners are often a low-priority C afterthought component in procurement, but if not managed properly, they ···
Fasteners are often a low-priority C afterthought component in procurement, but if not managed properly, they can lead to product complexity, wasted inventory, and increased project costs later in life. The global industrial fasteners market is large and complex and is expected to reach USD 81 billion by 2018. Fasteners are used in almost every industrial application; they are the part that holds everything together. Without them, our cars, homes, cell phones, and even the chairs we sit in would fall apart.
Knowing some of the key characteristics of the fasters you're sourcing will speed up and improve sourcing outcomes. Here are five things to know when sourcing fasters.
Choosing the right material for fasteners is important not only when considering cost, but also when considering factors such as strength, brittleness, and corrosion resistance.
Steel and stainless steel are the most commonly used materials, accounting for about 90% of all fasteners manufactured. Steel and stainless steel and plastic fasters dominate the automotive industry. Steel continues to gain popularity for its tensile strength, durability, and high formability. While stainless steel appeals to users for its corrosion resistance, it does lack the ability to harden to the same strength as hardened grades 5 and 8 steel varieties.
Silicon bronze (bronze) is mainly used in marine environments. This alloy is superior to stainless steel fasteners used in marine engineering for its high corrosion resistance and superior to brass for its strength. However, bronze can be very expensive, which explains its limited applications.
Brass and aluminum fasteners are also commonly used. Both materials are highly resistant to corrosion, but they are softer than the aforementioned ones. Brass is mainly used for its aesthetic appearance, while aluminum is often used when weight is an important detail of the technical specification.
Coatings are generally used for one of two purposes: to increase or increase corrosion resistance or for decorative and cosmetic purposes. Zinc, hot-dip galvanized and chrome is the most common coatings for fasters.
Galvanizing offers better corrosion resistance in most environments, but it can easily rust if the coating is damaged or exposed to water and humidity for extended periods.
Galvanizing applies a thick layer of zinc to the fasteners. This creates greater corrosion resistance, but galvanized bolts are not compatible with other nuts due to the thickness of the coating.
Chrome plating is used for corrosion resistance and as a decorative feature for some applications. Chrome plating offers similar corrosion resistance to zinc but offers a premium polished finish. Usually, it is used where polishing is required due to the high cost.
There are many types of fasteners, but the most common are bolts, screws, nuts, washers, clips, and pins.
Within each of these categories, there are several variants, and each application may require a new design of fasters. For example, when purchasing screws, it is important to know the type of head required (flat, pan, truss, etc.). Each type has its unique use.
Among these different fasteners, you can choose to design your product using standard off-the-shelf components or design your unique fasteners to best suit your purpose.
Both strategies have pros and cons: off-the-shelf components can save money, although they may not exactly match your requirements; and designing custom fasteners ensures parts meet the required specifications but at a higher cost.
Leading engineering and supply chain teams work together to limit the number of fasters to an approved list before developing future products to reduce factory inventory and improve maintainability.
Size is another differentiating factor that will determine where you can source fasters. Manufacturers of fasteners often develop features in specific size ranges, such as M6 or larger and M5 or smaller. This is due to the equipment required for different size ranges.
What does the "M" in the screw size mean? In the simplest terms, "M" is the major or nominal diameter, which is the measurement of the outermost protrusion of the screw. This is usually the measurement used to determine the general size of a screw, although there are many other measurements such as length, pitch, and thread size.
Unlike many other components, fasters can be sourced through multiple channels rather than directly through the manufacturer. The latter can be very beneficial if you have a very large part count and low variety. However, if you are looking for a wider variety of fasters types and sizes, in the medium or low volume range, distributors may offer you greater value as many manufacturers will refuse to quote directly to customers for low volume packaging.
Logically, distributors can also be an advantage when sourcing multiple fasters from multiple manufacturers. In this case, the distributor manages all the logistics of getting the components from the manufacturer, and the customer is only responsible for receiving them from the distributor.
Supply chain professionals will unlock tremendous value for their companies and create a competitive advantage by leveraging a strategic sourcing approach based on the five elements above to sourcing fasters and focusing on the true cost of their purchase of the fasters.
Learning all about fasteners, sourcing, and sourcing specialists will reduce product complexity, inventory, and ultimately product costs.