Congratulations on making it through 2020! The ability to maintain a business during the pandemic, which has included mandatory shutdowns and restrictions, is commendable. And to those fastener manufacturers and distributors that remained essential, there’s much gratitude for your dedication, adaptability, and hard work.
Although the past year is not one most want to reflect on, we think it’s important to give credit where credit is due. Several businesses continued to advance and innovate despite the challenges of meeting demands and accommodating customers under new mandates. Below are just a few of those company innovations that impressed us in 2020.
Feel free to share others with us that deserve recognition and applause (email: fasteners @ wtwhmedia.com)
Optimas Solutions, a global industrial distributor and service provider, launched a Standard Fastener program that offers on-demand, e-commerce access to common fasteners (such as screws, washers, and nuts) for maintenance, repair, and production applications — and with minimal quality documentation requirements.
“The Standard Fastener program applies directly to building an agile supply chain based on the 80/20 rule,” said company CEO, Marc Strandquist. “The vast majority of our customers rely on a core group of fasteners. Roughly 20% of those items comprise 80% of their spend. We are focused on delivering those items quickly and competitively so they can concentrate on managing demand.”
The program was part of a “Manufacturing Solutions” strategy that Optimas designed, mostly based on feedback from customers — which indicated concerns about supply chain disruptions and a greater need for standard and engineered parts.
Southco, Inc., a global provider in engineered access hardware solutions, has begun integrating a Microban antimicrobial additive into many of its hardware products. The technology inhibits the growth of microbes that are present in many environments and, according to the company, is effective against bacteria by up to 99%.
This means products and high-touch applications remain cleaner between cleanings with reduced bacteria — even after repeated contamination.
The additive, which is built into products at the point of manufacture, becomes part of the molecular structure of the treated part and will not wash off or wear away.
“Like Southco products, Microban antimicrobial technologies are designed to last the lifetime of the application, matching our commitment to providing premium quality solutions to the markets we serve,” said Jim Ford, director of Global Product Management with Southco.
Even before the pandemic hit, the team at Perlane Sales decided it was time to go virtual, so to speak, and update their digital capabilities. The Ohio-based company is a distributor and engineered partner of fasteners and tools.
“The challenge in business is to continually be forward-thinking and to avoid complacency,” said Ken DeCrane, president of Perlane. “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll likely lose your edge over time.”
To this end, the company worked on creating a virtual studio at their Stow location (about 15 minutes outside of Akron) last year — the timing was ideal. The studio lets Perlane’s engineers offer virtual demonstrations to customers who may need a tutorial on how to properly install a fastener or use a tool. The company also offers how-to videos and a blog to ensure its customers have the most up-to-date information available.
Medical adhesives typically require device engineers to choose between strength and wear duration, or comfort and pliability. There was no reliable option for a medical-grade tape that provided all of those features — until 3M announced its next-generation of silicone adhesives.
3M’s Hi-Tack Silicone Adhesive Tapes is a single-coated, non-woven tape with an adhesive liner that offers longer wear times with a flexible, yet secure hold. It also supports heavier devices without causing trauma to a patient’s skin upon removal.
“The 2480 3M Hi-Tack Silicone Adhesive is the first of its kind to offer the ‘re-positionable,’ gentle properties of silicone and achieve up to a four-day wear time, supporting heavier, more complex devices,” said Marcello Napol, VP of 3M Medical Device Solutions.
Advance Components, a master stocking distributor, continued to offer essential supply services throughout the pandemic and pursue partnerships that would most serve others. Case in point: its stocking and distributing agreement with ARaymond Industrial/North America for a new kind of fastener. This one has addressed the discomfort associated with face masks.
These Face Mask Comfort Straps were created in response to a customer’s request for a fastener that would work with the existing elastic straps on masks but relieve the common ear discomfort caused by them. But these parts also had to be produced quickly and in large quantities.
Advance and ARaymond Industrial also worked together to ship more than seven million Palnut Push-Ons for use in the manufacturing of COVID-19 testing kits.
“Stocking and distributing a fastener that brings relief to people who must wear a face mask for long periods of time, is both important and gratifying,” said Gary Cravens, president of Advance. “Our solid partnership with ARaymond helped us expedite the shipment of these parts that were, and still are, critical during this uncertain time.”
Also, worth noting: Advance Components implemented a “Strategy for Risk Management Program” in 2019, which strongly supporting the company last year. Through the initial process, the company identified several areas where its business was vulnerable to risks.
“We obviously didn’t foresee a global viral pandemic wreaking havoc on our business like it has but the Risk Management Program we developed and the solutions we put in place have helped us to be very prepared for this current environment,” said Cravens.
Other notable accomplishments from 2020:
- Stanley Black & Decker announced a more than $10 million comprehensive COVID-19 philanthropic outreach program to help its global communities and employees combat the effects of the pandemic. The company’s tools and storage units, engineered fasteners, and security solutions have been used by essential workers, including in health care, construction and maintenance, transportation, government, and others.
- The use of non-woven materials is essential to prevent the spread of infection, including COVID-19. This is because disposable, non-wovens provide an effective yet inexpensive barrier against micro-organisms and contamination making them ideal for surgical protective garb. Branson ultrasonic welding technology from Emerson is being used to cut and bond such fabrics into a variety of personal protection and sterile surgical equipment (including masks, gowns, and scrubs that require infection control).
- A supplier of miniature fasteners, U.S.-based Crescent Manufacturing produced 800,000 brass fasteners used in ventilators to help support the battle against COVID-19. Half of that order was manufactured and shipped in 24 hours. The company is an integral part of the Ford/GE HealthCare supply chain and immediately stood up to the production challenge. The full order was complete within four weeks.
- ZAGO Manufacturing, a global manufacturer of high-tech, sealing solutions and components, is offering engineers, OEMs, and distributors the option to “Build Your ZAGO Part” online. Customers can choose the set fastener specification — including thread type, size, length, O-ring material, as well as plating and secondary options.
- The International Fastener Expo (IFE) hosted its first-ever digital event in November of 2020 – Match & Meet by IFE. IFE is typically the largest (in-person) industrial fasteners and tooling and machinery event in North America. But 2020 led to new, virtual trade shows…and this one was a success.