You don’t need your ear to the ground to know the hot topic in the automotive industry is electrification. Hybrids and EVs have become a focus point for the industry due to environmental pressure, and established manufacturers are having to revolutionize their approach to the vehicle power train. Naturally, this means that innovative fasteners are required to meet these new demands, which may have no precedent. Luckily, fastener and supply chain expert Optimas was ready to help one of the world’s most established car marques support this revolution.
A challenge for makers of electric vehicles, whether in Formula 1 or in the public sphere, is the isolation of current. Innovative insulative fasteners are required to ensure that electrical systems stay isolated within a vehicle, so that in the case of system failure, current does not transmit to other areas of the vehicle and reverse polarity. It was exactly this challenge that the customer presented to Optimas, who has been working with the manufacturer globally for 17 years.
Martin Eaglesfield, Global Engineering Account Manager at Optimas, elaborates: “The customer needed two components with high insulation properties for use in a new hybrid model. The components were required to assemble the belt driven integrated starter generator (BISG) to the engine and feature a coating that would stop metal on metal contact during use.
“Optimas is a full service-provider for this customer,” he explains, “which incorporates on the ground engineering support. We are embedded at the manufacturer as fastener consultants, where we help to define the designated parts for each new vehicle release. This is packaged as part of our full management of the customers supply chain, where we deliver over 771 million fasteners to production lines around the world annually. To achieve this, we utilise innovative suppliers from our existing component portfolio. However, the difference with this project was that the parts had no precedent, and needed to be designed from first principles for the application.”
Bespoke components can be difficult to source, especially within the constricted timeframes that automotive projects typically operate to. However, Optimas can quickly develop components thanks to its global network. With this capacity, the typically lengthy lead times regarding custom components can be reduced, allowing customers ultimate versatility in how they tackle application challenges.
“We found a solution for the application in conjunction with Nylok LLC, an established provider of coatings for threaded fasteners. Nylok offers a new product called Nyshield™, which was ideal for the hybrid application. The customer agreed with our recommendation, so we spent time working together with Nylok to finalize the design of the components. Ultimately, the solution provided the dielectric strength that we needed.”
However, designing a new component and proving its engineering performance are two completely different things. Luckily, Optimas offers testing capabilities at in-house material labs around the world, which can provide full product validation. For the hybrid components, product validation was completed to ensure the new products would meet the high standards defined by Optimas and the manufacturer.
“The two components are now ready for the prototype builds of the new vehicle, where they will be installed to fix the BISG to the engine block,” Martin continues. “Despite the challenges inherent in introducing new components, we were able to provide an exact solution in a reduced timeframe, which was a significant advantage. We want to keep pace with our customers and this project displays that we can amend our approach to provide optimum fasteners for new and innovative power trains.”
With huge changes taking place in the automotive industry, developing existing knowledge regarding new technologies can take time for manufacturers. With the race now on to provide more and more efficient vehicles, leaning on the outside knowledge of a proven expert can go a long way to smoothing the transition from traditional power trains to electric. Utilizing the experience of a fastener partner means that the potential impact of sourcing new bespoke components is reduced, without adversely affecting the tight schedules inherent in the industry. For OEM automotive manufacturers, this means that increased efficiency isn’t simply confined to the finished vehicle, but to its new fastener requirements as well.