Switching to the unknown?

By Andy Holland, technical and marketing manager at Rapierstar.

Every business needs to operate with some level of certainty if it is to thrive, but it can be easy to forget this when the focus is short term on merely balancing costs with sales. It is tempting to trim a few pounds off the supply of seemingly inconsequential or commodity products, and fasteners all too often get lumped into this group.

However, does ‘every little help’? Changing any supplier can turn out to be a hugely costly mistake if the full implications of switching from one product to another aren’t adequately assessed. Despite their tiny unit cost, the role of the fasteners in creating high-quality windows and doors, and in enabling safe, efficient manufacturing, is huge. Switching your fastener from brand X to Y may seem harmless, but it needs particularly careful consideration.

Choosing the correct type of fasteners, manufactured from the right metals for the application, is vital if a window or door is to live up to its promise. For example, if a property is located in a coastal location, the friction stay screws must be purpose-designed to allow for smooth operation, and be the correct grade of stainless steel.

If not, they will rust and potentially break after a short period in-situ, which will probably affect the opening and closing of the sash. What comes then is a costly call-back, for an issue that could so easily have been avoided.

Rapierstar conducts extensive testing on all batches of screws to check that the fastener is easy and safe to use on the fabrication line. Consider this: if the screw’s insertion speed is slow, and excessive wobbling makes insertion tricky, chances are that the screw has been poorly designed or manufactured. The extra few seconds required for every fixing soon adds up and, before you know it, productivity suffers.

However, it is not just about practicality and speed. What happens if your fastener supply suddenly dries up? This could bring the production line to a halt or mean using the wrong screws in the interim – see above – which could prove to be extremely costly either way. That’s why Rapierstar invests so heavily in logistics and stockholding, a strategy that keeps otif delivery levels above 99%.

Closely linked to efficiency and productivity is health and safety. If the fasteners are proving difficult to use, this can cause annoyance and frustration on the fabrication lines at best, and accidents at worst. This is something any responsible employer will want to avoid, especially given the significant financial consequences that result from an employee’s personal injury claim. Here, a saving of a few pence could end up costing £tens-of-thousands in compensation.

Whether it is becoming known for windows or doors that fail to meet customer expectations, or a high profile employee injury claim that was completely avoidable, making the wrong choices for fasteners can result in significant reputational damage and expense.

That’s why, in today’s world of online reviews and word of mouth recommendations, it is so important to get the basics right and eliminate risk – especially for a small, but critical component like a fastener, which on average can make up less than 0.4% of the finished window or door manufacturing cost.

Having the right components available to use, in the right place at the right time, is too easy to take for granted, and it is only when we see supply chain disruption that we realise the real value of reliable suppliers.

Rapierstar offers a comprehensive fastener audit programme with its Health Check, which guides customers to make the right choices and can help rationalise their component use and eliminate production issues.