Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fasteners and Autos - Sibling Industries

We've all heard that the Big 3 U.S. Auto Makers are on the ropes and asking (OK - begging) for some kind of help from the federal government. There is plenty of debate about whether another huge chunk of money from the feds is a good idea or not. I'm not getting in the middle of that. But it does make me think about the relationship between the auto industry and the fastener industry.

By most accounts it seems that no single industry uses more fasteners than the auto industry. And although relatively few fastener companies actually deal directly with the auto makers now, the whole fastener industry has been affected by the auto industry, and vice versa. Think of the fasteners that have been invented just for and by that crazy auto industry. But then think about what the auto industry would be like without a creative fastener industry. I know, fastener people don't get a lot of credit for creativity, but we really should.

Actually it started with the carriage industry back in the 1800's. I came across a great web page about, you guessed it, carriage bolts - and other bolts that were needed and invented for the carriage/wagon/sleigh industry. Go check out the page and scroll down. There are some really cool old bolt drawings and ads.

As demand for more effective fasteners for carriages grew, the fastener industry grew by coming up with creative new solutions. The part some people don't think of is that these new fasteners greatly improved carriage production and quality, so the carriage industry grew, and the fastener industry grew more, and so on and so on and so on...

The drive for vehicle fasteners (pun intended) continued through the 1900's and to today. The now common phillips drive was popularized through its use in auto manufacturing. Many specific drive types were created for the auto industry, and plenty of funky head types and point types, too. We're even moving into some pretty high tech "intelligent" fasteners. Now other industries have all of these fasteners available to them and have found many more uses for them. Think of it - even today, carriage bolts are rarely used to build carriages, but they are used in many other places.

So we fastener freaks owe a lot to the auto industry, but the auto industry owes us a lot, too. Whatever solutions are employed to help the auto industry get out of their hole, I think we should continue to root for them. It's like we've grown up together.

1 comment:

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