The road to constructing a perfect fastener is a long one. It starts with the idea and ends with regular production. However, between the idea and OEM use, engineering and quality assurance are the most critical steps in the whole process. A great idea means nothing if the materials are substandard, and quality engineering is pointless if the fastener doesn’t hold up to everyday use. Even though the quality assurance process is often taken for granted, it is a crucial step in production and demands a closer look.
Why is Quality Assurance Important?
To understand just why quality assurance in the fastener industry is so important, we have to take a step back and remember what fasteners are. If we know that they connect almost every part of the vehicle, most of them essential, we understand how important their job is. If a fastener company introduced a component that is prone to breaking, bending and snapping, it would not hurt just their reputation; it would tremendously affect the car manufacturer as well. A poorly designed fastener is often the reason for mechanical failures and massive recalls, which cost billions of pounds and put the lives of so many people in danger. That is why some mechanical experts say that quality assurance is sometimes even more important than engineering itself.
Quality Assurance Methods
There are a few methods that are regularly used to perform quality assurance in the automotive fastener industry. First of all, engineers must follow the DIN EN ISO 9001 standards, especially regarding materials and alloys. Since 1987, ISO 9001 is the definitive standard of quality management which is improved periodically.
Computer Models – For some automotive fasteners, the road to full-scale production starts with computer models which simulate real-life use. Modern computer simulations are very capable of calculating numerous different factors like maximum load, torque, wear, temperature oscillation, etc. However, basing the entire production on a computer model, regardless of its capability, is not recommended but offers good insight into what designs are promising and could be successful and what needs more work.
Prototype Testing – If the fastener advances beyond the computer model, the next step is prototype testing in a controlled environment. The fastener is put through numerous tests and measured for results. The engineers used several very precise measuring tools like Magnetic Particle Inspection Machine, Profile Projector, Roughness Tester and Coat Meter. All those instruments are designed to measure the fastener’s wear, microscopic cracks, surface, and texture after the test. If the fastener shows any signs of wear under a specific amount of load or torque, it could mean that it will break in regular use and cause problems.
Real-Life Testing – Although real-life testing is probably the most time-consuming process of them all, it is still the ultimate proving method for automotive fasteners. During that process, the fastener is exposed to tests not included in computer models and gives the engineers precious real-life data crucial for further development. Only when the fastener passes, this step is put in serial production.
The Quality Assurance In The Fastener Industry Is Constant
Due to the sheer number of fastener components, demands of the industry, and improvements in concepts and materials, quality assurance departments are always busy. Simply, the quality management processes are always active and finding a way to make fasteners more affordable and more durable and making the vehicles, as an end product, better along the way.
Connected To Quality
As your highly specialised automotive sourcing, supply chain management, distribution and logistics partner, we have to ensure that quality standards not only apply throughout our own business but also to our network of manufacturing suppliers and service providers. In addition, we undertake annual audit inspections of all our suppliers and actively encourage and support customers to undertake their quality inspections and audits.
You can learn more here: https://auto-fasteners.com/quality-success/