By Bob Worth – technical expert
I approached the engineering department of a national leisure craft manufacturer several years ago with the intent of helping them lower manufacturing costs through process improvements. Typically I do that by improving efficiency, speeding up assembly, boosting quality, and recommending fasteners.
They needed to speed up assembly, so I analyzed their process and zeroed in on their riveting operation. I suggested an alternative method, providing rivets and installation tools over several months for a successful trial.
In the end, we saved more than $100,000 annually in riveting time alone, and thousands more in reduced factory cleaning and rivet tool maintenance. Plus, we avoided costly damage to a solid waste pump and eliminated employee flat tires.
How could a change in rivets do all that?
Slow and tedious installation
For starters, the manufacturer was using hydraulic pop rivet guns to assemble its product with about 60 rivets.
Operators would push the rivets into the holes by hand along 16 feet of the leisure craft. Often it took multiple trigger pulls on the rivet guns to set the rivets. Sometimes, mandrels would break jaggedly above the rivet heads, resulting in rework. Installation tools would jam and had to be overhauled frequently.
In total, the manufacturer installs 1 million rivets annually and the slow operation created a consistent assembly line bottleneck.
Mandrel waste nightmares
Mandrels ejected from the tools littered floors, which required frequent sweeping. They also found their way into an $8,000 solid waste pump which failed and had to be replaced. Others got tracked to an employee parking lot, causing flat tires.
Rivet solution saves $100,000+ annually
I recommended switching to a pneumatic Avdel® Speed Fastening® Neospeed® riveting system with the following benefits:
- Continuously strip-fed Speed rivets install at rates of 800/hr vs. the 300/hr for individually installed pop rivets
- Annual manpower required for installation dropped from about 5,000 hrs to 1,875, which amounts to more than $100,000 savings annually, even after deducting for the three-fold higher price of Speed rivets vs. pop rivets
- Speed rivets use a long, reusable mandrel that doesn’t break and litter
- Due to their design, the rivets only require one trigger pull to set, saving operator time
- Pneumatically operated Speed tools have fewer moving parts than hydraulically operated pop tools, so overhauls are less frequent
- The rivets are stronger – 40% more shear strength and 100% greater tensile strength compared to pop rivets. So quality improved
Free process evaluation and problem solving
Bob Worth spent 18 years at Avdel® as a sales engineer prior to joining Atlantic Fasteners in 2004. He helps customers solve problems and save money – from simple rivet troubleshooting to more complex process improvements – at no charge.