Choosing the right fastener is an essential step in automating any manufacturing facility. Simply put, fasteners hold together the different components that make up an entire assembly line, and they play an integral role in the smooth operation of a machine. As such, the production line must use the right type of fastener so that the system can achieve maximum productivity and efficiency. 

Before selecting which fastener best fits an application, one must consider a few important factors. These include the length and diameter of the fastener, the material it is made of, and its threads. In addition, it’s also important to determine the application’s joint strength requirements or grade, environmental conditions, and aesthetics. Even the shape of holes and points of the screw in relation to where they will be used must also be given some thought. 

After determining the specifications of the fasteners you need for your facility, the next step is finding a company that can provide you with the exact items you need. To narrow down your list of options, here’s a list of qualities that an ideal fastener supplier should have: 

Product expertise

First and foremost, the companies in your shortlist of suppliers should be knowledgeable with industry standards. They should be familiar with the exacting criteria by which fasteners are measured against. In case they don’t have the exact product you want, they are still able to provide you with options based on the minimum requirements of the application that the fastener will be used in.  

Knowledgeable suppliers also have tools that can help them educate their clients. These include online and print material, such as engineering specifications, data sheets, product attributes, tool manuals, instructional videos, and manufacturers’ catalogs. In addition, they also have documentation that serves as proof that the items they are selling have passed the manufacturer’s quality inspection. 

The supplier’s customer base can also help you determine if the company is a respected name in the industry. The industries they have most experience in (automotive, marine, industrial, or aerospace) is also an important indicator if they are a good fit for your business or not. 

Genuine and cost-effective products

The importance of having genuine materials cannot be understated. Choosing genuine products from legitimate manufacturers gives your business access to years of customized tooling, which you’ll eventually need to optimize manufacturing results. Before choosing a supplier to partner with, ask them where their fasteners are manufactured and whether they adhere to the Fastener Quality Act (15 U.S.C. 5402). If you have any doubts, you can request for certification that indicate that the products they are selling have passed inspection and testing. 

Once you have looked at the quality of the fastener, cost comes next. It’s not always best to look at price comparisons when it comes to fasteners. If a supplier gives you a price that is too good to be true, it probably is—you will have to check whether the products are genuine or counterfeit. What you can do is check whether the supplier offers membership packages/discounts to larger clients and take advantage of this.

Convenient order processing

A good supplier has a reliable inventory system for order processing and tracking. They also should have electronic records of product specifications that you can check when searching for fasteners that meet your requirements. You can also look at whether the supplier’s website has a good pricing system that is accurate and specific to your needs. 

Timely delivery

The ability to deliver in a timely manner is one of the most important hallmarks of an ideal supplier. Check if the supplier has a tracking system in place and if most of the previous deliveries they’ve done have satisfied their clients. It’s also a good sign if you can provide your feedback to the supplier—this means that they care enough about your opinion and they want to take steps to provide their future customers with a better shopping experience. 

Finding the right fastener supplier can take time and a bit of research on the part of the customer. The effort is worth it, though, as the right supplier will make it much easier for you to automate and upgrade the systems that are central to the operation of your business.