Partnering our customer

As a Full Service Provider (FSP) we engage at a deeper level with our customers. This allows us the opportunity to be involved in the early development of a new product or in problem solving a new application. Over the last ten years we have consciously focused on the recruitment of technical and application engineers to support TR locations and Business Development Managers (BDM’s).
This early involvement and problem solving capability is proving to be the added value that our customer base, particularly the multinational OEMs that are the mainstay of our business, require of us.

Adding value

We are in a unique situation, compared to competitors, of having the knowledge and technical support of our own eight manufacturing locations to provide additional support. We have experienced increased activity with major customers interested in seeing their product manufactured on site which is an invaluable experience.
This includes the numerous audits of our facilities and capabilities where we are attaining high scores which assists in securing nominations for new business and it builds their confidence in TR.

Technical centres for the future

The next stage in this development is to open ‘technical and innovation centres’ in the heart of automotive and electronics clusters of manufacturing. Our Swedish team were given a brief to find a campus environment, close to the design centres of the major customers that we support there today, in a futuristic building in Gothenburg. They exceeded the brief and during November 2017 we moved in to serviced offices on the Docklands and have three full-time Application Engineers based there. The building we occupy is a ‘hot house’ purely for companies involved in the automotive sector and electric vehicle (EV) development. The design centres for Volvo, Geely, Ericsson and many more are within walking distance of our centre, and the expanding city will be home to another 7,000 people moving in to this area of engineering excellence. The product designed in this city will influence their OEM manufacturing sites globally and the Tier1’s that support them. The TR team based in Gothenburg is engaging with other TR teams in Europe, China, USA and India on an increasing basis to ensure that we secure the business that we have been involved in as and when it goes global.

We are also emulating this plan at our Waterside Park location, located in Birmingham, in the next few months. The technical centre, with a conference and training suite, is being housed in our newly extended automotive facility adjacent to the main distribution hub. This will enable our technical application engineers to invite customers into the facility, discuss new projects and test product real time into their components. Having the space and equipment to invite customers’ engineers in to assist them will, we believe, be invaluable. The HQ for our global quality team is also based there, so the necessary testing and the latest measuring equipment will be incorporated into that facility.

Electric vehicle development

The emergence of the EV development is the hottest topic at the moment and we are already engaged with, and on the builds of, prestigious models through the Tier1’s. The interiors of the vehicles are becoming more futuristic, but they still require car seats, IP console and air bag assemblies the same as a conventional diesel or petrol engine car, so the vast majority of the parts we already supply will remain the same. We are involved however with the battery manufacturers and changing technology. This has spawned a new business opportunity for us, best illustrated in the diagram within this article. The EV charging units create a completely new market as electronic highways will be developed to support the anticipated electric car boom. If you can imagine that, from the tip of Italy to the top of Norway, there will be a huge network of charging points along that route. We are seeing these at our service stations, in company forecourts etc. and, for us, this is a perfect product opportunity as they are essentially sheet metal cabinets filled with that industry’s technology. For TR, it is product paradise, as the components used are products we already supply to the sheet metal industry today and are stocked. We can supply everything from the self-clinch fasteners, to the cable management and enclosure products used in the assembly. We have launched a major campaign globally to be seen as the one-stop source for EV charging units. A dedicated industry page on our technical website has been created to showcase our full capabilities.

Plastic and cable management

It is five years since we launched our plastics and cable management range. Kevin Rogers, TR Commodity Manager, has been instrumental in developing the range with key vendors and training our staff in the product and applications. This year the sales have been substantial; we are selling this product, not just to OEMs directly but, to distributors who appreciate the service we provide, and the short lead times on special parts. We can tool up for product in under five weeks where for our competitors often the quote is 12-16 weeks.

Enclosure products

The enclosure product range was soft launched last year and trialled in the UK and Southern Ireland. The interest in the product is best expressed in the number of hits on our website – over 48,000 in a short space of time. This is a more technical sell and we have been running training courses in the UK and Europe and showcasing the product at exhibitions. We are starting to see the activity and interest escalating. We are not the brand leaders but are seeking to be designed in by sheet metal companies at the same time as they are specifying the other products we already supply them. This helps to reduce their vendor base and will also give them a commercial benefit. Our future lies in continuing to develop enhanced service and product offerings to our growing and established customer network.

TR retains level 2 JOSCAR status

Accreditation register is used by buyers in the defence, aerospace and security sectors.

TR Fastenings has retained level 2 status in the Joint Supply Chain Accreditation Register (JOSCAR), a database of firms that have undergone accreditation to prove they have the systems in place to supply to the aerospace, defence and security industry. The JOSCAR system was established to aid aerospace, defence and security firms to select partners and suppliers as prime contractors across their varying requirements. Vendors are assessed on a number of issues such as business continuity, counterfeiting, IT security, supply chain procedures and modern slavery. Having the accreditation register in place ensures that potential vendors are assessed for risk, compliance and quality of materials and services. Buyers have access to a single source of accurate, comprehensive and quality data relating to these factors, so they can make informed decisions quickly and assuredly. Kevin de Stadler, Director of Sales, UK and Ireland at TR Fastenings, comments: “We strive for the highest levels of quality in every sector that we operate in, and we understand that for the aerospace, defence, and security sectors there is an additional need to assess their suppliers against key criteria due to the high-risk nature of the work these firms carry out. “Being part of the JOSCAR initiative is hugely important to us and shows our customers in these industries that we take our commitment to quality and standards very seriously, and we are very proud to have retained level 2 accreditation.”

Full service provider

TR North East has invested in an ultrasonic wash facility to meet the growing needs of one of its telecommunications customers.

Due to our ever growing usage and reliance on technology, there is an increased demand for better and faster wireless and mobile phone signals (4G etc.), yet at a reduced cost. This is the challenge that our customer is facing in the production of their radio filter technology. Our customer had a requirement for the brass components that we supply to be cleaned to give an improvement in yield, a measurement that is taken to validate the performance of the product. TR North East worked alongside our customer to map the requirement and have now invested in a cleaning facility on site at Newton Aycliffe to help achieve this goal. We reviewed the specification of the customer’s existing set up and replicated it at our premises in Newton Aycliffe at no additional cost to the customer. By replicating the existing system, the customer fully understands and has confidence in the process that we are carrying out on their product and we can provide back-up assistance should their equipment fail. The cleaning process consists of a hot ultrasonic wash in a mild alkaline aqueous solution, removing any residual oil, grease and general dirt from the parts. They are then rinsed of any chemical residue in hot de-ionised water before drying, cooling and bagging to preserve cleanliness. The initial results have shown that the investment we made is giving the customer a better product, and performance has increased by 16% in comparison to the uncleaned product, taking the measured yield to almost 100% on one of the filters tested, proving that by “going the extra mile“ as a full service provider we can add value to our customer.