Industrial fasteners are used in a wide variety of products, from machinery to aircraft and vehicles, as well as building structures. These tiny components provide support, mobility and secure essential joints. Fastener failure can bring massive equipment to a standstill, while tall structures can be brought low when improper or inadequate fasteners are installed. Considering their size and cost, industrial fasteners exercise massive influence on a wide range of industries.
The Boeing Challenge of 2007
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft was in high demand back in 2007, when this innovative jetliner designed with a durable, lightweight airframe was capturing the attention of large airlines around the world.
Boeing was proud of the 787 Dreamliner’s success, but ran into a snag during the summer of 2008. When the composite airframes were being delivered to Boeing’s final assembly plant in Everett, only temporary fasteners were included. The materials management division rushed to source the permanent fasteners required to get the jetliners into the air.
A Boeing spokesperson expressed surprise about the challenges associated with sourcing industrial fasteners. The aircraft industry runs at high capacity in terms of components, including bolts, nuts, washers and various other fasteners used to assemble jetliners. This left Boeing waiting for essential, yet tiny parts, and holding up impressive, expensive orders due to unimpressive, cheap components.
How Companies Cope
Boeing made it through the crisis of 2007, and likely made changes to the fastener order process. Other businesses also learned from this situation and established a solid relationship with their fastener distributor to ensure shortages are expected and happen less frequently.
Specifications for industrial fasteners are included in product and building design, and many times affect reliability and stability. Substitutions are not always straightforward, although your fastener distributor is the best source for information on possible substitutes.
Quality is another important factor, and is affected by material and finishing. Discuss quality levels with your fastener distributor to ensure that products and structures are being fitted with the best possible industrial fasteners, ensuring that production and construction issues do not delay your project.
Ask Boeing employees that worked through the challenges in 2007 - industrial fasteners may be tiny, but in the scope of massive projects they play a major role.
Started my career in the fastener world in 1969 at, Parker Kalon Corp. a NJ based screw manufacturer located in Clifton, NJ working in inventory control, scheduling secondary production and concluding there in purchasing. In 1971 I accepted a sales position at Star Stainless Screw Co., Totowa, NJ working in inside sales and later as an outside salesman, having a successful career at Star I had the desire with a friend to start our own fastener distribution company in 1980 named: Divspec, Kenilworth, NJ. This was a successful adventure but ended in 1985 with me starting Melfast in August 1985 and have stayed competitive and successful to date. Melfast serves the OEM market with approximately 400 accounts nationally.