Technology is changing how people work — and the engineering/manufacturing sector is no exception. 

As our modern world becomes increasingly digital, it’s crucial for those working in the fastener industry to expand their knowledge, adopt new technologies and continue to innovate. 

This article explores insights into the challenges, opportunities and innovations in the fastener industry, as delivered by the PEM® experts.


Overcoming Industry Challenges 

Many of the challenges currently facing the fastener industry have been developing over the last few years, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread disruptions to the supply chain. 

The political environment of 2023 continues to impact the supply chain at a global level, with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine affecting the availability and cost of raw materials. 

Further disruption to the supply chain has been caused by the following:

As a result, supply chains must remain agile as industries attempt to overcome continuing complications. 

The Potential for Innovation

With its challenges come many breakthroughs for the industry, not least of which are the steps to develop new technologies that will digitize the workplace and make it more accessible to the next generation of engineers. 

Below, we explore some of the most significant areas of change and innovation within the industry, focusing on the opportunities created due to these ongoing evolutions. 

The Electrical Revolution 

One of the biggest trends impacting the fastener industry is electrification — specifically, the large-scale manufacture and use of electric vehicles.

In recent years, there have been two significant shifts in the field of automotive electronics:

  1. Electrification to replace internal combustion engines (ICEs)
  2. 400V systems replaced by 800V systems 

With electrification now firmly established as a widespread movement within the automotive industry, further EV and hybrid vehicle innovations are inevitable in the coming years. 

“The main challenge brought about by this revolution is upskilling and supporting those involved at the design level,” says Mark Chadwick, Global Marketing Manager in Automotive Electronics. 

“Most of the professionals involved in designing the systems are mechanical engineers — people who, up until now, most likely won’t have had much experience with electrical components and may not be aware of the electrical requirements for these new systems.”

“The great thing about our service offering is that we can provide the support, training, education and insights engineers in this sector need, and we can deliver this knowledge practically on demand.”

Digital Transformation 

Digital transformation is visible across almost all industries – fabrication and manufacturing included. 

In recent years, we’ve seen considerable developments in the capabilities of digital tools and solutions to: 

“Digitization opens up a world of opportunities for companies operating in this sector, and the PEM® team is fully behind the use of digital tools at the design stage, the quoting stage and on the manufacturing floor,” says Pete Beecherl, Chief Technology Officer, Global Technology Team. 

PEM® engineers view the industry's future as a seamless integration of human knowledge and experience combined with digital intelligence and foresight, allowing design engineers and fabricators to work with greater speed and accuracy and produce parts of higher quality. 

The Thinner, Smaller, Lighter Trend

In the Consumer Electronics (CE) market, designers are always encouraged to make products thinner, smaller and lighter to satisfy consumer demand — people want thinner TVs, lighter smartphones and laptops, and smaller, lighter tech in their wearables. 

“Thinking about the ‘thinner’ aspect of this trend, the challenge for us in the fastener industry centres around creating an attachment point that doesn’t take up a lot of real estate within a product while still enabling the consumer’s right to repair,” says Zachary Light, Consumer Electronic Market Manager. 

“Moving forward, we anticipate seeing innovators within the industry coming up with new ways of putting products together which strikes a compromise between the thinner, smaller, lighter trend and the consumer’s right to repair, like with our removable TackScrew products.” 

The Right to Repair Movement

While the definition of ‘Right to Repair’ and what it will entail for OEMs and manufacturers is currently vague, its overarching aim is to produce a more reusable, repairable and customer-accessible device.

“We see Right to Repair making a bigger impact with larger consumer electronics, featuring more easily handled components, and in the automotive industry, too,” says Shane Doody, Applications Engineering Manager. 

“The legislation will encourage a new way of thinking about how products can be put together, and it will make the tools and parts needed to complete the repairs more readily available to the average consumer.” 

Sustainable Practices 

The initiative for businesses to become more sustainable is being adopted with increasing speed and dedication across the industry. 

Supported by new regulations such as Right to Repair, manufacturers are becoming more conscious of how their production processes and products impact the environment. 

“Right to Repair is the sustainability topic that’s getting the most attention, but outside of this, there are several areas where improvements can be made simply by researching the fastener types that are available,” explains Vice President for Process Innovation & Environmental Sustainability, Brian Bentrim. 

“When you’re dealing with metal products, choosing the right fastener can have a big impact on weight. 

“Choosing greener fastening solutions will allow you to create a more sustainable product. As an added benefit, green production practices put consumers’ minds at ease. Today’s consumer is more aware of environmental challenges, more socially conscious and more likely to invest in a product that’s been made with sustainability in mind.” 

Explore the Opportunities in Your Industry with the PEM® 2023 Fastener Industry Report

Get deeper insights into the topic areas we’ve explored above with the complete 2023 Fastener Industry Report. Download your copy today. 

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