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Management Q&A

Fasteners Become Job Specific -- Emhart’s growth revolves around it becoming a “systems solutions” supplier.


 Mike Tyll — President
 Emhart Automotive Division

Emhart Teknologies, based in New Haven, Conn., wants to own the customer’s total experience.

To do this, it supplies not only fastening and welding parts and related technologies but also consulting services. This leads Emhart to analyze all facets of a customer’s business and offer them “Total System Solutions.”

Emhart had 88 first filings for patents on new products this past calendar year thanks to design job-specific fasteners. As a result, the company reported 35 percent revenue from new products this year and 36.4 percent in 2001 from new products. All this is due to designing fasteners for specific solutions rather than modifying existing products to fit new applications.

The customer services offered by Emhart are built into the fastener engineering. Commonly, the engineer who is brought in on a project will not only be a part of designing the new fastener, but also breaking down the cost and showing how the new Emhart fastener will make the procedure more profitable. The cost analysis also includes engineers investigating the product lines to make any common-sense type changes that will speed up production time and reduce overall system costs.

Another practice at Emhart is researching customer complaints on existing vehicles. After analyzing the complaint, Emhart engineers either prescribe a system solution that may be the use of a new fastener or a change in the production. Then they meet with the OEM that produces that particular vehicle.

Emhart Innovation Centers include locations in Japan, Germany and the United States. It also has one mobile innovation center in Europe and two in North America. All of the innovation centers are electronically linked to share application data and new design concepts with the other design centers and with customers. The centers also offer computer- aided application design, an electronic cataloging system, prototyping, testing and conference facilities.

Recently, Emhart worked with Mercedes on stud welding the C-Class. The company reported an accuracy of 99.90 percent in the stud welds largely due to the ongoing measurements taken during each weld. During the collaboration Emhart helped to centralize all the stud welding stations throughout the plant.

Emhart also is moving towards offering single sourcing to customers. Its goal is to enter contractual agreements with new customers and then provide all engineering and logistical services as well as inventory management. This would offer customers a chance to reduce overhead.

Automotive Industries’ Associate Editor Rich Wilson recently sat down with Emhart’s Mike Tyll, president — Automotive Division, to talk further about fastening technologies and future trends.

Q: How much time does Emhart spend addressing alternative materials?
All of our customers on a global basis are looking at alternative materials other than traditional steel. It could be thin sheet. It could be aluminum. It could be composite, and as a result of that trend we have a significant part of our R&D devoting time to these issues. If I had to throw a number out it would be as much as 25 percent, maybe even a third where we’re looking at the impact from a technology standpoint of using these new materials.

Q: How does Emhart plan to address the coming trend of pre-stamped and painted panels?
A: When it comes to welding technology, any kind of surface treatment, especially paint, will have an impact. Over the years we have developed our technology to the point where painted surfaces or virtually any kind of coating on the surface is really not much of a problem.

Q: Your total system solution involves helping show customers how to reduce cost. It seems your engineers do this themselves. Is that the case?
We do use our engineers for the most part in those activities. We do have other support personnel in place who are able to perform that kind of financial analysis. The financial people built models that the engineers can drop numbers into which makes this much easier.

Q: How important is consultation in cultivating customers?
A: The way we look at it — consistent with our mission statement which is “owning the customer’s total experience” — consultancy is an integral part of that. We want to be perceived by that customer as much more than a fastener or even system supplier. We want to be perceived by the customer as someone who is providing a total solution. Consultancy is certainly a critical element in that pursuit.

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Sat. June 3rd, 2023

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