When simplifying the fastener requirements of a multi-billion-dollar automotive assembly supplier there is a high demand for consistency in the approach. Yet this is something that Optimas actually refers to as a global component standard. Since 2009, Optimas has been applying this standard to the activities of a global manufacturer of interiors, seating and emissions solutions to some of the world’s most prestigious car manufacturers.
With the cooperation between the two businesses providing distinct advantages in the manufacturer’s European interiors division, the standard is now set to expand globally.
The customer initially enlisted the help of Optimas to help generate efficiency gains and cost savings within its fastener supply network, which with operations in 35 countries, presented a sizable challenge. Optimas gathers a vast wealth of experience supporting Tier 1 automotive suppliers and OEM manufacturers, so the customer was confident that Optimas had the expertise necessary to help streamline component selection in its interiors division. Engineers from both businesses began a series of fastener implementation meetings to define a unified approach to fasteners.
Eric Crassous, Development Director and OEMS Global Account Director at Optimas, explained: “The end goal was to standardise the manufacturer’s fastener policy in Europe, so that components and suppliers could be effectively consolidated to simplify component specification and delivery. To this end, our engineers worked with the interiors division to define a catalogue of components - a global standard for fastener selection. We recommended already existing parts within its component portfolio that met engineering requirements, while also removing obsolete part numbers from the manufacturer’s fastener usage. The end result was a defined list of 17 standard part numbers, which met 82% of fastener requirements for the division.”
The global standard fastener catalogue offered a number of advantages. First, it consolidated the vast majority of fastener supply activities within Optimas, providing the Tier 1 supplier with one point of contact for all fastener requirements. By maximising order volume through limiting component diversity, Optimas was also able to provide parts at a more competitive cost point than the previous supply framework. Furthermore, due to Optimas’ highly efficient global network and localised fastener warehouses, lead times on fastener orders were also reduced.
“By consolidating and simplifying component specification for the customer, we effectively reduced decision time for engineers on the ground,” Crassous continued. “Rather than specifying an entirely new component for a certain application – which requires designing it, creating samples and working through sign-off protocol – the customer’s engineers can now simply refer to the catalogue for an existing solution. For the interiors division, this delivered immediate efficiency gains.
“For the future, we minimise obsolescence, as fasteners that were used in a previous project can be reapplied throughout the manufacturer’s global operations in new projects or designs. This approach provides maximum usage and increased cost effectiveness.”
For the customer as a whole, this conveys a united and integrated approach. A defined fastener catalogue can be an excellent tool in displaying proficiency, as well as uniting the company with regards to approaching these issues. With a point of reference such as this, decision making is streamlined and efficiency boosted, providing the customer with less challenges to overcome and an increased ability to perform.
So what of the remaining 18% of fasteners? These non-standard components are not included in the catalogue, but instead of enforcing a one size fits all policy, Optimas adapts to the manufacturer’s specific component requirements in real time. Due to a close relationship between both sets of engineers, the two teams collaborate to originate custom parts to overcome specific application challenges. A new design outside the global standard can therefore be accommodated for, with Optimas utilising its network of independent test laboratories and supply capacity to deliver these custom components with increased speed. Ultimately, it provides the best of both worlds.
Crassous concluded: “The proven success of this fastener framework - a combination of global standards and adaptability - has grown a committed relationship between both businesses. Now, together we are starting the journey towards implementing similar fastener solutions in the manufacturer’s seating division, an initiative that has been enabled due to prior success and mutual trust. By actively supporting this Tier 1 automotive supplier’s innovations with quality, simplicity and reliability – we try to overcome the role of a traditional supplier, instead operating to the standard of an integrated fastener partner.