Fasteners are often the very last item that is considered when reviewing a new product design when they should actually be one of the first. One of the fundamentals of the assembly process is fastening smaller components together to create an ‘assembly’. The proper design and selection of fasteners can not only reduce product and assembly costs, but they can also have a profound effect on quality and warranty costs. The head of warranty claims for a major automotive manufacturer has said that 60% of their warranty costs can be related to fastener and fastening problems.
The time to reduce these costs is as early in the design process as possible. By working to optimize the fastening assembly processes, it is possible to drive down the piece price costs of components by eliminating costly operations like tapping, while simultaneously improving quality by eliminating problems like cross threading through the use of thread forming screws. But the time to incorporate concepts like these is as early in the design process as possible, since by the time prototypes are being built, most of the product cost is already fixed. Munro and Associates states that 70% of final product costs are fixed during the product design stage.
Working to optimize the fastening processes during the design and design review stages of the development process provides the best opportunity to deliver a product at both the lowest cost and maximum quality. By utilizing optimum fastener designs and testing it is possible to minimize piece price and labor content while maximizing quality and productivity and a new product. The time to act is as early as possible.