The TR Group majors on the design 06 November 2013

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, TR Fastenings is one of the world’s leading manufacturers and distributors of mechanical fasteners. It supplies over 150 million components every day, majoring on the design, manufacture and distribution of mechanical fasteners on a global basis to OEMs, their subcontractors and other fastener distributors. This competitive combination has fuelled sales and geographic expansion over the past two decades and today the TR Group has over 5,000 customers and has attained ‘Preferred Vendor’ status with over 30 global customers; offering a cradle to grave solution, from design through to VMI logistics service and aftercare.

Product design
The electronics sector has been the key growth area of TR’s business for many years. This sector encompasses a wide range of manufacturing industries and is often best described as ‘a product that ends up being connected by a plug into a power supply’; from a PCB assembly, enclosures for telecoms and servers, fire and smoke alarms, screws for disk drives through to ATM machines. To support this diverse product TR has developed new designs and thread forms and acquired licences for products that are used in new materials or give more efficient drive torque and speed of assembly.

The TR Group has 14 hub sites globally supported by smaller satellite locations. Seven of these are manufacturing, of which six are in Asia. Having manufacturing within the group is a distinctive advantage, as the inherent knowledge of materials, capability, processes including heat treatment, different finishes and electronic sorting to ensure final quality, is available to our teams. This also assists with quick turnaround of enquiries, product trials and testing. TR has also increased the numbers of application engineers who rely heavily on this support to provide for the growing needs of our customers. This is not just on new design but also for VA/VE initiatives.

Recent licences from the Phillips Screw Company and Acument have added to the growing portfolio of products and solutions on offer. The Mortorq® Super Spiral Drive recess from Phillips is the most recent of the licences acquired, and is a unique drive solution which reduces the head height without any loss of torque and takes the weight out of the product – a critical factor for many companies.

During the last 12 months TR has expanded the range of plastics and cable management product, branded as ‘a clear alternative’, that compliments the other products we supply to the end user. The core range is extensive and we have increased this by proving our value when requested to assist in the design and manufacture of specials. We have the ability to tool up and supply samples in 5 weeks, which is significantly better than the competition.

A comprehensive matrix of this product range is on the TR website making it easier for designers to access this and their fastener needs from one source. We provide samples so that the integrity of the product can be verified or for use in trial builds.

Within the UK we are seeing a growing number of new start-up electronics companies emerging following the demise of businesses that have transferred to low cost countries. Skilled engineers and new entrepreneurs are finding there are still opportunities within the UK and Europe to open niche businesses. We are keen to support these and have business models to cope with both small and large companies offering the same level of service to both.

The TR self-clinch range of fastenings is widely used in enclosures and telecoms cabinets, and this includes panel fasteners, product for PCBs, clips, rivets, screws and plastic components. The Antennae telecoms product is another niche area for which TR has perfected the supply of product. This varies from fixing kits to the complex tuning screws used in microwave filters, and designs for special screw thread forms into magnesium castings. Micro screws, miniature parts and screws for specialist plastic applications are also showcased on our website.

Global supply chain
It is not just about great product design; the logistics of serving the multi-nationals is vital too and the TR global footprint is key. Originally products for the electronics industry were designed in America and Europe. But with the shift to lower cost countries, such as China, and the ASEAN Region we are seeing the emergence of ODMs and design centres in these locations. Finding a good manufacturer in Taiwan or China is one thing but getting the same product to the production line in Mexico, Hungary, USA and Thailand needs additional skills from a company that manage the logistics and give a lean supply chain. TR can therefore provide a holistic supply capability that is particularly attractive to the corporate teams of the multinationals. We are expanding the manufacturing sites increasing capacity and opening new locations in Thailand and Pune in India in response to the growing needs of our clients.

Claire Aldridge Deputy Editor t: +44 (0) 1727 743 889

Having spent a decade in the fastener industry experiencing every facet – from steel mills, fastener manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, as well as machinery builders and plating + coating companies, Claire has developed an in-depth knowledge of all things fasteners.

Alongside visiting numerous companies, exhibitions and conferences around the world, Claire has also interviewed high profile figures – focusing on key topics impacting the sector and making sure readers stay up to date with the latest developments within the industry.