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OEM's Seek Partners For More Than Parts

by Doug Markham,
President of iPower New England

Specialty Bolt and Screw (SBS) was one of five fastener industry leaders called upon by congressional leaders in the Senate Commerce Committee to craft a tough, realistic, and verifiable piece of legislation, which became the Fastener Quality Act of 1999. SBS's leadership in quality avoided the real risk of excessive and ineffective regulation on an industry in need of change. Instead SBS pushed the industry to initiate and sustain serious efforts to restore responsibility, accountability and traceability within the industry.

The Fastener Quality Act (FQA), Public Law 101-592 signed by President Bush in 1999 was driven by a growing need for product standardization, process/document control, lot traceability and management accountability. Earlier in the decade, the "bogus bolt" controversy grew from a series of congressional hearings which presented an industry suffering from improper material substitutions, falsification of certificates, inconsistent heat treatments, wrong plating materials, omission of the stress- relief processing step, mismarked head markings or absent performance indicators.

These efforts brought significant and lasting changes which have greatly enhanced quality in the product produced and distributed by the North American fastener industry. Today, lot traceability, document control, and ISO certification of material are basic minimum requirements of a fastener distributor.

Training is Essential

Any competent fastener supplier must possess and understand the specification applicable to the parts they supply before they can know if a product is fit for use. The rule regarding supplying fasteners is the same as any other law; "Ignorance is no excuse for violations." SBS is a trusted dock-to-stock vendor for many world class manufacturers who rely on JIT part replenishment. SBS has developed a global reach in quality inspections to ensure part conformance at the manufacturer and throughout the supply chain whether in China, Taiwan, Mexico, Canada or the US.

SBS has invested heavily in both the technical library, document control of customer specifications and in the training necessary to understand how to continually supply conforming product. However, SBS recognizes that quality can never be inspected into a part, but instead they have adopted sustainable long term strategic partnership with an international vendor base, focused on technical and process capability, frequent audits and continual dialogue (in the same language (Chinese, Spanish, French or English).

Leadership is Essential

The senior management of SBS used their leadership positions as President of the National Fastener Distribution Association (NFDA) and Education Chair of the New England Fastener Distribution Association (NEFDA) to push the global industry to become increasingly quality focused. SBS President Jay Queenin is working with the NFDA at a high level to redefine the scope and reach of the fastener industry.

SBS COO Jon Queenin as Chairman of Education of the NEFDA organized the SBS week-long training seminar in "Advanced Fastener Training" in May of this year. This unique event brought world class educators to train stakeholders from all aspects of the fastener industry. Those stakeholders included distributors, manufacturers, end-users, and metallurgists.

The Training content included: specifications, standards, print reading, joint and application design, materials and testing techniques. Jon Queenin said, " The goal of the event was to offer world class training to as wide a group of practitioners as possible to ensure best practices were being promoted and implemented throughout the fastener industry."

As hoped the event was oversubscribed. Attendees traveled from: Illinois, Michigan, California, North Carolina and throughout New England. To add a unique international perspective to the pursuit of quality SBS recruited attendees from Shanghai, China, Juarez, Mexico and Val court, Quebec. The positive feedback from this year's attendees has encouraged the NEFDA to organize a similar training event for next year.

Technology is Essential

For many Life Science OEMs using Point of Use Systems for fasteners product quality is a must. Receiving exactly what they specified is critically important. Any non-conformance can result in costly in-house assembly failures, external warranty problems, and worse - potential liability claims. As the need for highly precise, consistent, and durable medical equipment grows so does the need for OEMs to require fasteners suppliers to inspect and provide bona fide certificates for the fasteners they are supplying.

Today, SBS is leveraging new web-based technology to provide transparency and access to quality records and processes. Customers of SBS can find and download (24/7):

  • supplier audits
  • process capability studies
  • material and plating certification
  • functional test data
  • SPC
  • final inspection
  • incoming inspection reports

In addition, SBS has open access for its customers to its extensive technical library (catalogues, standards, articles, videos).

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specialty-bolt-and-screw

Specialty Bolt and Screw recently launched its new website describing its products, services and engineering solutions for all types of manufacturers. It offers white papers and case studies that demonstrate how its engineers, technicians and sales associates respond to customer challenges with innovation and expertise.