100,000 Francs in Damage Prevented – Thanks to a Single Screw.

Ives Mühlemann
Application Engineer, Bossard Switzerland

I can still remember my first client visit. I learned how much there is to discover and learn about fastening technology. I accompanied one of our technical experts to a client site for training. My colleague discussed things I had never heard anybody cover at such depth while in school, such as the specific properties of different materials or the importance of the correct torque on a bolted joint. Fastening technology is a very complex field in which many parameters interact and affect each other. We are able to use our knowledge to help clients find the best fastening solution and avoid unexpected problems.

I have worked at Bossard in Switzerland for two and a half years as one of four application engineers. Our job is to support our clients with product design and development. This means we often deal with new, undocumented problems whose solutions have yet to be found.

Although screws are only one of many elements in machinery or equipment, their failure can bring everything to a standstill. This happened to a Swiss company’s deep drawing press. In South Africa, the press was used for manufacturing aluminum screw caps for wine bottles.

During operation, the M12 screws that held in place a deep draw die were failing. The client contacted our sales department. The goal was to find an answer to the question why the screws continued to fail during production. To answer this question, I analyzed the fracture and spoke with the local technicians who assembled the machinery. The problem was quickly identified. For various reasons, the screws were not tightened properly. The solution was to define the exact torque and proper lubrication ratio in order to attain the correct pre-load force to the connection.

Clearly, defective equipment can quickly become costly for clients, with losses running into the five- to six-figure range in no time at all. When we can solve a client’s problem quickly and efficiently, then we have provided a textbook example of proven productivity. And, of course we’re thrilled when a client shows us their appreciation, like the company with the deep drawing press. In that case, we celebrated our success in-house with red wine from South Africa!

March 19, 2014
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Streamlined Processes –Positive Bottom Line Impact

Richard Penichout
Metal Parts Buyer, Somfy, France

As a global market leader in the field of motorized and automated controls for awnings, blinds, shutters and gates, it makes perfect sense for us to work with a single supplier for fastening elements. With annual volumes from a few thousand to 3 million units per year, the numbers vary widely depending on the item. We aim to reach an accurately calculated average price through single sourcing. We expect Bossard to provide high- quality products and services within controlled economic parameters. Bossard achieves this with its efficient procurement network that is based on a proven quality assurance system and by providing the corresponding logistics services.

Bossard supplies our production facilities in France and Tunisia (and soon Poland) through our state-of-the-art warehouse in Germany. Our production teams have to be able to respond immediately to every request. Therefore it is extremely important for the right part to be available. As a result, Somfy maintains an inventory of finished products in order to deliver orders in less than 48 hours. This means that our suppliers have to have a supply chain that is flexible and agile in order to support our process. This is why we work with Bossard: Because of its efficient warehouse management system. The savings are enormous. Bossard is managing between 8 million to 10 million parts per year for Somfy. We would incur significant costs if we had to permanently maintain such a large inventory ourselves.

As a metal parts buyer for Somfy, I’m aware of the potential – particularly as I come from the automotive sector – that could come from expanding our business relationship and working together more closely. I do see the benefits of developing our simple customer-supplier relationship into a full-fledged partnership. We are still at the beginning of this partnership. In the future, we would like to benefit from the expertise and resources of the engineers at Bossard in developing parts based on functional specifications from Somfy. In my opinion, it is important to expand our supplier model successfully. Because reducing costs goes well beyond simply lowering prices. Ultimately, our relatively new partnership with Bossard should help to streamline processes and have a positive impact on the bottom line.

March 19, 2014
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Why Being Near Clients Always Pays

Stephane Talbot Post

Stéphane Talbot
Commodity Manager, Alstom Transport, France

By the end of 2014, Alstom Transport will start production of new trains for the Lille metro system. The engineering challenges of such a project are numerous. Bossard has been involved in the planning well before the start of production.

For the Lille metro, an engineer from the Bossard office in Valenciennes in northern France was added to the team to prevent changes to the items used as the project progressed. If the right screw is selected from the start and no subsequent modifications are necessary, then you can achieve the greatest productivity gain. And, you cannot measure this form of productivity – especially when everything is running smoothly. This is a really successful approach aimed at preventing very cost-intensive changes downstream.

As a commodity manager for sourcing, I work with a specific segment, class C, which includes all small components such as screws, spacers, nuts, etc. At our group headquarters in Paris we develop purchasing strategy, supplier models and framework agreements. We also manage their implementation at the approximately 20 production sites of Alstom Transport (Rolling Stock).

The first characteristic of class C-parts is the enormous number of different items – they make up 30% of the items for trains but only 7 % of a train’s overall material purchase price. For Alstom this means 30, 000 different items (including 10 000 screws). An item usually amounts to several hundred euros per year.

That’s why we want to use Bossard’s engineering expertise to help us standardize our products and achieve our goal of reducing the number of items from 4,800 to 2,000, ultimately. How is Bossard supporting us with this project? The company is providing us with technical and logistics support. For example, the same shim with a diameter of 12 mm might have four different names, depending on the production site responsible for assigning item names. Bossard identifies the part and assigns it a standard item code. Another example is when Bossard looks at two different screws that have the same function, cleaning out the item database by selecting just one of them. Bossard also proposes new fastening solutions which help to improve assembly process.

The second special feature of class C-parts is the service area. The decisive factor in this regard was Bossard’s global presence and the excellent geographic pairing of these locations with Alstom’s. Bossard assigns the order, maintains the inventory and delivers directly to our production facilities – in Europe as well as in Asia, for instance, in Shanghai. The Bossard warehouses are located near our production sites. This is true for Poland, Spain and India. This geographic proximity helps us to significantly reduce our production costs.

Eight years ago when this adventure began, Bossard was working with just one Alstom production site in Belfort, France. Today, Bossard works with nine of Alstom’s production sites.

March 19, 2014
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For a Handful of Screws

Markus Simitz
Purchasing Manager, Embru-Werke AG, Switzerland

Anybody who went to school in Switzerland has most likely sat on an Embru chair. Forty percent of classrooms in Switzerland have Embru chairs, which has a lot to do with our slogan “Furniture for a Lifetime”. But rather than advertise for Embru, this is simply meant as the backdrop to illustrate how severe a problem it was a few years ago when complaints began piling up about our best-selling school chair.

The rubber caps on the feet of some chairs had been coming off in some cases. Sounds pretty harmless, but school floors are often linoleum, and linoleum floors are difficult and expensive to repair or replace. At that time we had around 50,000 of these chairs in Swiss classrooms. So, every complaint was making us increasingly nervous. Where did the problem lie? And how quickly could we find the solution? An internal analysis indicated the screws might have been the problem. And under sustained force, such as when students lean back in their chairs, as they like to do, the rubber caps came off the countersunk screw. But how could the problem be corrected?

“Let‘s ask Bossard,” I said, because they have the equipment to test out alternative screws. After several lab tests, a Bossard engineer confirmed that the screws were in fact the problem. So, together we designed a half-dozen new screw prototypes. The challenge was to ensure backward compatibility, i.e. the new screws had to be compatible with the chairs already delivered, their casters, caps and 4.0 mm screw holes. We just wanted to replace the screws, not parts of the chairs or whole chairs, which would have cost an enormous amount of money. New screw in, problem solved – that‘s how we wanted it.

After three weeks of testing, Bossard did in fact deliver “our” screw. It was not cheap of course, but what do a few high-quality screws cost compared to replacing a linoleum floor and our customer service having to resolve warranty claims?

We then used a high precision computerized screwdriver that was strongly recommended by the engineer, which actually cost more than the screws. The force is just as important as the screws themselves, he had told us. The screws would be too loose or over tightened if there were more than minimal torque differences.

But now we have peace of mind. Complaints have virtually ceased, and when one is received, we know what to do. So, that‘s what comes of partnering with Bossard. We functioned as a team. It saved us a lot of money, and what is nearly more important, it raised our awareness that solutions to design problems can often be found in fastening technology, such as the right choice of screw. This insight is already helping us with new designs.

ID: BOS-AE-OT-00514

March 19, 2014
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