Archive for the ‘AFL Opinion’ Category

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.

Automotive Fasteners and the EV Revolution

March 3rd, 2021 | AFL Opinion | Comments Off on Automotive Fasteners and the EV Revolution

Automotive Fastener Electric Vehicle (EV)

 

Whilst Tesla may have kicked off the Electric Vehicle (EV) revolution, today every major automaker in the industry is involved and are announcing the addition of more and more EV’s to their ranges on what feels like a weekly basis. In addition to the car industry’s established heavy-hitters, new EV specialist manufacturers are also entering the market – brands such as Byton, Lordstown and Rivian.

Whilst EV’s generate zero air pollution whilst being driven, depending on energy source today’s EV’s are often actually just pushing pollution ‘upstream’.  This will eventually be resolved as the source of energy to power these cars moves from fossil fuel to alternatives such as solar power, wind turbines or even nuclear or hydroelectric. However this is achieved, the electrification trend which is currently shaping the future of mobility is here to stay, with bans on the sale of new Internal Combustion Engined (ICE) cars being phased in globally.

 

Electric vehicles and the impact on the automotive supply chain

The rise in popularity of Electric Vehicles represents a significant disruption to large parts of the supply chain as lots of the major systems found on traditional ICE vehicles are simply not required with EV’s. In pure mechanical terms, EV’s are far simpler with single digit moving part motors, single speed transmissions, no fuel systems, no exhaust and no turbo or superchargers. 

As OEMs continue to seek to future-proof their supply chains it is critical for suppliers to react and adapt, and automotive fastener suppliers are no exception. Automotive fasteners will play a major role both in terms of the new and specific applications surrounding electrification, and also in terms of the unique technical requirements.

Electric Vehicle EV motor retained by automotive fasteners

 

New and exciting challenges for the Fastener sector

“Electric Vehicle technology places new and exciting challenges on our automotive fasteners sector,” explains AFL’s Managing Director, Scott Simpson. “Not only are there a surprisingly large number of fasteners required in the manufacture of EV’s, the technical requirements can be very different and more demanding than ICE applications.” 

Specifying the right automotive fasteners for the Electric Vehicle Battery (EVB) alone is a key consideration, the battery needing to be as lightweight as possible to optimise performance and reduce energy consumption. It also needs to be both water and airtight, whilst remaining fully serviceable. Additionally, some of the connected components need to be conductive, while some require isolating qualities for safety reasons. Fastener cleanliness is also critical as any contamination present within the electric powertrain can lead to short-circuiting.

New challenges are also created as manufacturers move away from using standard steel in motor housings to different materials like aluminium and plastics, which require fastener solutions to handle different temperature and tolerance demands.

 

Helping to drive affordability and reduce emissions further

The broader role for fastener suppliers within the EV market lies in less obvious areas. Firstly, cost. Battery packs are currently incredibly expensive and affordability is one of the key factors affecting accessibility and adoption amongst the end user.  To ultimately deliver affordable EV’s, manufacturers need to offset this expense and are increasingly looking to make savings across their entire manufacturing process. The right fastener partner can support this by offering solutions which deliver much improved manufacturing efficiencies.

Off vehicle emissions are another key focus for the automotive sector. No longer is it just the vehicle tailpipe emissions being considered, but the entire supply chain. Again, the right fastener partner can help its customers implement more efficient processes to help achieve this.

 

Electric Vehicle EV detail secured with automotive fasteners

 

Better connected

AFL can supply a whole range of automotive fasteners which are particularly relevant for EV and EVB applications

  • • Fasteners with electrically isolating coatings
  • • Super lightweight fasteners
  • • Non magnetic fasteners
  • • New component fasteners ie Battery retention bolts
  • • Cable management solutions
  • • EV charging unit support

AFL exists to connect with its automotive customers as a partner, not just a parts supplier. Our aim is to really understand the problems you are facing, to collaborate with you and to help you solve that problem. AFL supports both automotive OEM and aftermarket customers across a whole range of segments including car, truck, commercial, motorcycle, construction and defence.

Auto-Fasteners Ltd New Website

December 18th, 2014 | AFL News, AFL Opinion, Customer Case Studies, New Products, Technical | Comments Off on Auto-Fasteners Ltd New Website

Welcome to our new website. So much has happened here at Auto-Fasteners over the last few years we almost didn’t know where to start to write it. Our business has grown and changed a great deal and we hope this new web site reflects that. We are now supplying not only aftermarket fasteners to automotive OEMs but also direct onto serial production lines. Our range has expanded to include not just bespoke metal and plastic fasteners but now a wide range of small engineered parts and assemblies. We hope you our customers and suppliers find the website useful and would value your feedback. Thank you for looking, Scott Simpson Managing Director.

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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

    Email: enquiries@auto-fasteners.com

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