Archive for May, 2021

Industry 4.0 In Automotive Manufacturing

May 28th, 2021 | AFL Opinion | Comments Off on Industry 4.0 In Automotive Manufacturing

For over 200 years, the world as we know it has been shaped by industry. Ever since the First Industrial Revolution of the early 19th century, technology and scientific development have led humankind into the future, changing everything in the process. The 20th century saw several major technological leaps forward, impressive industry expansion, and a switch from the Second to Third Industrial Revolution. At the moment, we are in the middle of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), which promises radical improvements to complete the production process and incorporating every technology known to man.

What Is Industry 4.0?

The term “Industry 4.0” has been around since 2011 and is used as a designation for the process of computerising and digitalising standard manufacturing. Suppose we know that Third Industrial Revolution is a digital revolution that started in the late 20th century with the wide use of the internet. In that case, the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0 is a logical step toward implementing digital technologies, M2M communication (machine to machine), and the Internet of Things into large-scale manufacturing. The goal is almost complete automation of any production process, increased efficiency, communication between work stations or production segments, and self-monitoring, amongst other things.

Automotive Industry

Over the years, the automotive industry has been fertile ground for many innovative ideas and production processes. From the days of Henry Ford’s ingenious moving assembly line in 1913 over the widespread use of robots and automation to today’s fully digital manufacturing process, the car industry has been a hub for new ideas and constant development. That is why automotive manufacturing will be one of the first to accept Industry 4.0’s postulates and move to complete automation and machine-to-machine concepts.

The Example of Industry 4.0 in Automotive Manufacturing

One of the critical aspects of the Industry 4.0 doctrine is the increased and constant communication between production segments or machines, which is very important for car manufacturing. As you probably know, in order to assemble one vehicle, the factory needs thousands of components installed at the right moment. Most of those parts are not produced in-house and are sourced from different factories or subcontractors. Timely delivery is crucial as well as production schedules. Coordination between parts warehouses, delivery services, production managers, and assembly schedule is vital for smooth operation; however, in real life, that is not always the case. However, by implementing the Industry 4.0 standards, car companies can overcome those difficulties and even instantly change the production process in order to keep the assembly lines occupied while waiting for needed parts.

For example, imagine the car plant which is producing a sought-after model and has a strict schedule. The production process is highly dependable on the supply of the parts and materials. Let’s say that that supply chain is interrupted and that the components are not able to arrive on time, which is an everyday reality for most companies. The global car industry recently experienced significant production delays over a short supply of semi conductors and computer chips, which forced several assembly plants to close down and cause enormous costs and problems for the car companies. However, if modern car companies switched entirely to Industry 4.0, this wouldn’t happen.

A fully digital manufacturing process with direct communications between fully-automated work stations or production segments would predict any potential problems and organise the production to avoid shutting down the assembly lines. This means that the system will contact the suppliers in advance, have insight into in-stock lists, calculate delivery times, and incorporate any valuable data to precisely predict when the parts are available. Suppose for some pieces, the exact delivery times are unknown. In that case, the 4.0 system will be capable of continuing the production, changing the production process, keeping the workstations busy while waiting for missing components to be delivered to the site. For example, install the interior and glass while waiting for the engine and transmission to arrive. Of course, having a fully modular assembly line is required, and it is something that the car industry, in general, will need to adopt as soon as possible. At the moment, assembly lines are fixed, and if one component is missing, the production is completed, and the whole line stops.

The Advantages of Industry 4.0 in Automotive Manufacturing

The advantages of Industry 4.0 are enormous:

  • This doctrine will continue the robotisation allowing the machines to communicate directly and without any delays giving them AI capabilities.
  • The whole production process is elevated to the next level and given the ability to self-monitor and to detect any potential problems solving them as soon as they appear.
  • Industry 4.0 will be much more efficient and require less assistance from humans.
  • By intelligent engineering, the whole Industry 4.0 implementation into the car industry can help energy savings as well as carbon neutrality and sustainability, which are vital aspects of modern technology.

Digitalising car assembly from start to finish will make the entire process significantly independent, cheaper, and much safer. The result could be faster implementation of new technology, higher production and quality standards, absence of production delays, and ultimately more affordable cars. Of course, the complete process would be easier to control and overlook and would require less human involvement than it currently needs.

The lifecycle of an AFL supplied part

May 24th, 2021 | Uncategorised | Comments Off on The lifecycle of an AFL supplied part

AUTO-FASTENERS is highly specialised in the sourcing, supply and distribution of automotive fasteners and small parts. Our unique relationships with manufacturers spread across a globally connected network, enable OEM and 1st Tier customers to source a large number of ISO TS16949 approved parts made from high quality graded and certified raw materials.

Following the journey of a single stainless-steel washer reveals AUTO-FASTENERS interconnected sourcing expertise, stockholding, quality control and packaging capabilities, exemplifying how each process is enhanced by our high standards and efficient scheduling to add a unique value to every part supplied to our Tier X and OEM customers.

High quality Global Manufacturing and Sourcing.

The journey of a stainless-steel washer begins with our stand-out approach to Global Sourcing due to unique relationships with multiple manufacturers. In particular, AUTO-FASTENERS’ ability to source from high-quality engineering expertise available in the Far East provides a flexible and agile alternative approach to that of the larger incumbent manufacturers. In forming and shaping relationships with these alternative manufacturers, we are able to address issues of speed of response, competitive unit cost and low minimum order quantities, adding value to the automotive aftermarket supply and the parts within it.

Our strong relationships with global manufacturers and suppliers allow for a rapid response to quotation requests, providing a seamless fast-acting service that allows for this steel-washer to be obtained quickly and effectively so its value exceeds that of similar parts available from other suppliers.

Quality Control and Environmental Standards.

Once landed at our UK Hub, a random sample from our steel washer’s batch heads straight for our quality testing and inspection laboratory. Here a range of quality tests are conducted including hardness testing, dimensional tolerance inspection, tensile testing, fault detection, corrosion and fatigue testing and more. If the part fails in any way the batch is pulled. Our on-site testing and inspection capabilities are backed up by ISO 9001:2008, ISO 14001:2004 and VDA 6.3 accreditation, whilst all our manufacturing suppliers operate to the internationally recognised ISO TS 16949:2009 quality standard.

Unique Stock Control and Inventory System.

At AUTO-FASTENERS we carry all stock on a ring fenced individual customer basis, meaning no stock is shared between customers. Therefore, as our steel washer enters stock control, it is immediately allocated to its specific customer.

This enables super accurate and immediate stock management, driven by our bespoke ERP and stock control systems. This gives the customer complete flexibility to either call off the washer to a predetermined schedule, or alternatively for immediate dispatch.

The system also allows for the detailed analysis of re-ordering patterns, guaranteeing a continuous supply of parts to meet fluctuating demand. All the time, every AUTO-FASTENER partner remains super-connected thanks to EDI data interchange technology.

Kit Assembly and Bespoke Customer Packaging.

Our particular steel washer is destined to be assembled into an aftermarket fitting kit. It is manually packed to the highest possible standard, to guarantee the specific requirements of its customer’s packaging are met – both in terms of branding, labelling and instructions; but also including any necessary materials to protect the part either in transit or customer storage.

Delivery Schedules and Meeting Demands.

Getting the right products to the right locations at the right time and in the right condition is one of the core pillars of the AUTO-FASTENERS service. In the case of our washer, aftermarket demand from its large OEM customer means it is loaded for almost immediate dispatch. Whilst our International Distribution Centre in the UK serves a global customer base, this part is destined for a shorter delivery journey, arriving at its destination – a domestic dealership parts department – just hours after we receive the initial order.

The following day the kit containing our washer is booked out to the dealer workshop by a technician fitting a crash replacement front bumper to a customer’s car. The day after a very satisfied customer collects the vehicle. Blissfully unaware that her shiny new bumper is being held together by a whole range of quality automotive fasteners which we have moved halfway around the globe, and taken through a multitude of advanced processes.

Each step of AFL’s unique supply system ensures the highest quality product and service. Our ability to source ISO TS16949 approved materials from a large network sits at the root of the company’s performance whilst the high quality of materials is reflected through the service provided from sourcing right through to Aftermarket support. Stocks are maintained with backups after initial delivery to ensure a continuous JIT supply for repeated and fluctuating demands, reflecting how each step of our supply process produces a kit of the highest value.

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    We globally source, stock and distribute OEM and TS16949 quality fasteners, small parts and engineered components. We can satisfy both OEM production line and aftermarket requirements for both car and commercial vehicles.
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    Auto-Fasteners Ltd (AFL) is a Tier 1 automotive supplier. We globally source, stock and distribute OEM and TS16949 quality fasteners, small parts and engineered components. We can satisfy OEM production line and aftermarket requirements for both car and commercial vehicles.

    Phone: +44 (0) 1926 814600
    Fax: +44 (0) 1926 813575


    Auto Fasteners Ltd
    Global Distribution Centre
    Holywell Business Park
    Northfield Road
    CV47 0FP
    United Kingdom