Market conditions are continually changing, and new trends lead to demand for new products. To keep pace with changes in the fastener marketplace and shine new light on emerging fastener applications, we decided to start a series of blog posts profiling fastener manufacturers. This post is from our conversation with Adam Pratt, president of Sherex Fastening Solutions, a longtime Bay Supply partner.
About Sherex Fastening Solutions
Sherex is one of the leading fasteners manufacturers for automotive, aerospace, construction, and general industrial use. Since the company was founded in Buffalo, New York, in 1978, it has grown substantially and now has sales and distribution offices in Buffalo, the United Kingdom, and Mexico and production facilities in Akron, Ohio, and Chungli City, Taiwan.
Sherex has a diverse product catalog, including rivet nuts, clinch nuts, wedge locking nuts and fasteners, and custom-engineered fasteners. The company also offers rivet nut hand tools, pneumatic tools (spin-spin), hydropneumatic tools, and automation solutions for large production environments.
In our conversation with Pratt, he discussed new trends in automotive and other manufacturing industries, including increased use of preassembled components and changing fastener solutions for emerging applications such as electric vehicles (EVs) and solar systems.
Changes Shaping the Fastener Market
Sherex makes fasteners for all aspects of the industrial market, including HVAC, food equipment, and agricultural equipment. Some of its strongest markets include automotive and energy. Pratt said Sherex is seeing considerable growth in EVs, solar and wind power, and energy storage.
As he explained, for assembly line applications, the goal is to eliminate welding wherever possible. Using rivets and rivet nuts is more energy- and cost-efficient. Fasteners are less expensive than welds, and using fasteners not only provides more manufacturing flexibility but also requires fewer skilled workers. By using fasteners in place of welding, welders can be reassigned to other parts of the production line.
“When you look at the total installed cost, we always find riveting and clenching is less expensive than welding,” he said. “It also has improved performance characteristics regarding installation accuracy and much better aesthetics. You can generally install them post-paint or post-electroplating.”
As assembly lines become more automated, more fasteners will be required. Automation reduces the demand for skilled laborers and promotes faster, less expensive installations. This trend also encourages more factory preassembly and less field assembly for applications such as solar systems and wind farms.
Sherex's Complete Line of Fabrication Tools
Sherex also offers a comprehensive line of fastener tools, everything from handheld manual tools to fully automated robotic systems.
For example, the Flex-18 is one of the largest hydropneumatic rivet nut tools on the market, with a pull force of up to 18,000 pounds. The Flex-5 is one of its most popular rivet nut spin-pull hand tools for large-scale installation projects.
One of the newest additions to the company’s tool line is the Sherex Hand Tool Calibration Unit. Pratt said that Sherex regularly sees tools come in for repair that were improperly set up, either with the wrong pull force or pulling distance. The calibration unit lets users know if they are setting rivet nuts with the right pull force for optimal performance.
New Sherex Fastener Solutions
Changes in manufacturing are driving Sherex to develop higher-strength rivet nut designs. For example, more composite materials and aluminum are being used in EV manufacturing. Since you cannot weld aluminum or plastic, fasteners with higher strength specifications are required. Sherex is developing new Grade 8, Class 10 proof-load rivets to meet the need. They also are conducting more research on coatings and electroplating to eliminate corrosion.
Part of Sherex's mission is to promote best-in-class fastener processes. For example, where a customer may be using different weld nuts and rivets, Sherex works with them to show them how to get more from a design that uses one style of hex riveting products instead.
Sherex is also promoting a new line of round-bodied fasteners that the company has been developing for the past eight years. The latest round hole fasteners show much better spinout resistance and are being embraced by manufacturers because round holes are easier to work with than hex holes. Many customers want to consolidate their design around the new Sherex round-hole fasteners.
The Future of Fasteners
Pratt said he sees various trends shaping the fastener market. In the automotive market, the move to EVs will have an impact as manufacturers retool to accommodate new EV power trains. The newer EV power trains require fewer parts for faster assembly, and vendors must make new fasteners to accommodate them.
Pratt also said he sees fastener makers and their customers collaborating more closely to validate new applications. Products will continue to become lighter and smaller, and fastener vendors must develop new products with higher performance specifications to meet the need.
“As engineering resources become limited, manufacturers are relying on OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] to do more,” he said. “We are putting a lot of our emphasis and investment on making sure that the engineering team and sales team can support application development work to help our customers adopt best practices and make their products better.”
The catalog of Sherex Fastening Solutions fasteners and tools is available on the Bay Supply Buyer’s Marketplace. Be sure to check regularly for the latest fastener innovations from Sherex.