In line with the expected rise in new car sales this year, the demand for vehicle underbody protective shields will increase – meaning good news for suppliers of the robust fastening mechanisms needed to attach these to cars and trucks. Southco takes a look at why quarter turn fasteners can meet the demands of this application
According to industry experts, recession-weary car buyers are being enticed by the latest technology and more freely flowing credit. As a result, the EU auto industry is expected to be key in 2012, with a forecast of 14 million car sales predicted for the year.
Sustainability continues to be a driving force behind this industry growth. Today’s car buyers want the best performing, yet most fuel-efficient vehicle, but the areas of a vehicle where the greatest efficiency gains can be made may not always be that obvious.
For example, there is a continuing requirement in the design of new cars and trucks for the attachment of lightweight underbody protective shields, states Southco. These improve both aerodynamic efficiency beneath the vehicle and overall fuel economy by decreasing drag. Additional benefits are seen by reduced road and engine noise being transmitted into passenger compartments – already a legislative requirement in many parts of the world – together with underbody component protection from road impact, debris, and ingress and accumulation of dirt and water spray into the engine compartment.
More cars and more underbody protective shields are good news for companies within the automotive OEM supply chain, as this increases the demand for associated components such as robust fastening mechanisms. Such fasteners must allow both rapid and easy installation on the assembly line, yet also enable subsequent fast access for post-assembly servicing.
Southco is tackling this demand with its Dzus quarter-turn fasteners. Dzus was acquired by Southco in 2004 and the two brands have been developed over the past eight years. According to the company it can now offer OEMs quick-access fasteners that meet the underbody and protective shield requirements of today’s cars and trucks.
Features of the Dzus quarter-turn fasteners include resistance to vibration, fatigue and temperature changes, resistance to corrosion, and the choice of a variety of head style options. Furthermore, thanks to advanced technology developed by working closely with automotive customers over many years, the fasteners can be simply secured to steel, aluminium or composite chassis underbody components through pre-punched holes.
Ulrike Sturman, industry marketing manager for transportation at Southco, commented: “It has long been perceived that, for a robust and durable fastening system, threaded fasteners offer the most cost-effective solution. However, although a threaded system might be cheap to buy, the time it takes to lock and unlock the system makes it expensive in terms of initial installation as well as ongoing service. The recovery gains of the Dzus quick access quarter-turn system, made from reducing the time it takes to install and then from ongoing access needed for servicing, more than outweighs the upfront investment. Also, the Dzus quarter-turn stud is retained in the panel and will not get lost during maintenance work.”
Recently, Southco developed a range of new quarter-turns and accessories, including a stud that has an orientated head feature to cam. This brings the added benefits of the head feature always engaging and locking in the same position. The lock position of panel fasteners can therefore be identified, and installation time is speeded up. Furthermore, in response to the increased use of textile-type panels in the auto industry, the company offers larger washer faced quarter turns which spread the load and therefore provide for a stronger and more robust fastening system.
Sturman added: “We are looking closely at the market potential resulting from the increased demand for new cars and 4x4s, and we also recognise the significant opportunities presented by the growing electric car market, where our fasteners are ideal for securing, and providing quick access to, battery pack enclosures.”
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