Global Fastener News

1996 FIN – Mobile Fastener Service Latest Competitive Edge?

June 17
00:00 2009

1996 FIN – Mobile Fastener Service Latest Competitive Edge?

January 2, 1996 FIN – Emhart Fastening Technologies is taking its laboratory to customers – in a 36-foot-long Airstream motor home.

Emhart, a supplier of fasteners and fastening tools to the automotive industry, converted a nine-ton motor home into a rolling conference room, design center and laboratory. It is dubbed the “Mobile Innovation Center.”

“This is not a fluff vehicle. This is not a traveling showroom of products,” Emhart director of business development Martin Schnurr told FIN. “This is hard engineering. It is a design vehicle with a computer system with three-dimensional modeling capability, stress analysis equipment, link-up with Emhart research and development worldwide and even a welding system on board.

If an automaker needs a new fastener for exterior trim on a car, Emhart engineers drive to the plant and meet with manufacturing engineers in the motor home’s conference area – complete with a sofa, chairs and table. The mobile unit is staffed with two engineers, a sales manager, and a marketing representative.

A laboratory in the back of the motor home is equipped with an arc welding unit and an air compressor to operate Emhart fastening tools. If an existing Emhart fastener can do what the customer needs, it can be demonstrated immediately.
“The lab is set up so that we can put our parts in place on a customer’s sample part,” Schnurr explained.

If one of Emhart’s more than 5,000 parts, tools, and performance data in the company’s onboard electronic catalog doesn’t solve the problem, then the engineers use a computer-aided application design station to find the solution or they use the telecommunications equipment to consult with the company’s research facilities in the U.S., Germany, or Japan.

“You get closer to your customers, and you can’t get any closer than driving into their parking lot,” Emhart president Paul Gustafson said.

Emhart has manufacturing customers in 100 countries, and most automakers in the U.S., Europe, and Japan use the company’s fasteners.
Gustafson said the mobile unit allows Emhart to do in three hours what typically took three to six weeks previously.
“Typically, one of our reps would go to our customer’s design center with our catalog,” Gustafson explained. “But there was a limited amount of information that could be passed along in those meetings. Now, this give them a tremendous breadth of information at their disposal.”
Schnurr said the ultimate goal is to “speed response time and make technology choices simpler.”

The first mobile unit went on the road last fall and travels five days a week. During the winter it will primarily be in the South.
Regional managers schedule daytime OEM visits and evening product training sessions at distributors.
Calls from OEM’s over fastening problems can change road schedule. A seating manufacturer in the Midwest who was not an Emhart customer heard of the mobile service and called for help. The problem turned out to be a “product selection issue rather than an engineering one” and could be resolved immediately, Schnurr said.

Emhart is planning to put a second mobile unit on the road this year in North America and one in Europe.
“Hopefully, things like this give us a competitive edge,” Gustafson said. ©1996/2009 Fastener Industry News.
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Related Links:

• Emhart Fastening Teknologies

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