As emissions regulations become stricter and the price of oil continues to rise, there’s no hiding from the fact that the Heavy Duty Truck and Motor trade is becoming ever more competitive. This is why manufacturers are striving to reduce vehicle weight and maximise reliability - so their customers can profit from every extra mile. Companies like Optimas are able to find innovations on seemingly simple components to give manufacturers an edge.
Broken down into its simplest terms, the success of any commercial vehicle (no matter what industry or application it serves) can be defined by three Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): payload, fuel efficiency and maintenance costs. If a vehicle is able to carry a greater load further than its rivals with a reduced burden of maintenance, then it’s going to be a long term success no matter what’s happening to the global economy.
For this reason, despite the huge size of many trucks, there is currently an arms race underway to develop lighter, greener vehicles which can endure the shock loading and high miles of long haul routes. It was the pursuit of payload that led a global truck manufacturer to approach Optimas with a locknut weight reduction challenge.
As a specialist provider of integrated supply chain solutions and engineering support for fasteners and c-class components, Optimas has over 30 years’ experience working with manufacturers to improve the overall efficiency and quality of their production lines. With a global supplier network and engineering support across EMEA, America and APAC, its reputation has been built on working with manufacturing partners over time to build in long term cost savings and performance benefits to their logistics, design and production operations.
Optimas operates a business model that involves investment - both in terms of resources and personnel - in all aspects of logistics, component supply, engineering, forecasting demand, quality control and even manufacturing. This means that for each partner a service is devised that offers distinct benefits. For example, one customer benefited from an immediate double digit percentage production cost saving after Optimas engineers completed an assessment of the cross functional supply chain operation across the entire plant.
It was this insight and expertise that the truck manufacturer was relying on when it approached Optimas with the challenge of finding a single, lightweight locknut to replace the multiple nylon inserts and platings previously specified. While reducing weight was the main goal of the project, the manufacturer also had an eye to improving the overall performance of the part - thus boosting durability and reliability. The locknuts would be used on the chassis of the trucks so they were expected to be resistant to corrosion, hold improved torque tensions and were also required to have an environmentally friendly coating.
Optimas engineers were stationed at the manufacturer’s R&D centre and worked directly with the design team to produce a collaborative engineering effort utilising the product expertise of Optimas and the industry experience of the client. This stage included a battery of tests, including the use of an RS Torque Tension Unit to calculate friction and load capacity to identify the right locknut. Once the design was finalised further testing of the plate material was carried out to ensure paint adhesion and lasting torque tension.
The final result is a single metal fastener that replaces the variety of heavier, more complex nylon parts which were previously available to the manufacturer’s design department. This piece reduces the parts inventory, lowers costs and creates a 10% reduction in weight - as well as increasing durability in operation.
The three KPIs which can be used to measure the success of any commercial vehicle are payload, fuel efficiency and maintenance costs. The solution offered by Optimas has resulted in measurable improvements in each of these areas.