Looking Forward 23 June 2020

Forward Fastener Manufacturing, based in Aston, Birmingham, has established itself as a key partner for customers, thanks to its dedication to design, guidance, prototyping and the manufacturing of all types of male threaded fasteners.

Forward Fastener Manufacturing Ltd can produce a wide range of products, with its expertise lying in screws and captivated washer assemblies (SEMS), double ended studs, trilobular and paint clearing threads, self-tapping and wood screws, cap screws, specialised forgings, as well as bespoke security fasteners. “Our product range has really evolved over the years,” points out Phil Rose, operational managing director. “Traditionally we focused on sizes M2.5 to M8 – in various materials. However, our range has grown to meet customers’ needs and is now at a stage where we can offer products from M1 to M18 – in lengths 4mm up to 400mm – and we are looking to take this up to M22 diameter.”

“Customers are asking for us to become a ‘one stop shop’ where they can get their standard M4 – M8 products, but also larger diameter parts,” adds Martyn Cleaver, managing director at sister company Forward Industrial. “Everybody can produce products between M4 – M8, but we realised it was outside these diameters that there was an opportunity. We have, therefore, added these capabilities and now customers can get the whole range from us.”

One of Forward’s key strengths is its ability to work with customers on products to drawings. “When it comes to the development of products, we have the manufacturing knowledge and insight to work closely with customers and offer a unique design, development, and trial service, to find the perfect solution,” points out Terry Hasson, works manager. “We can do this thanks to our own in-house tool room, wire drawing, manufacturing and testing facilities.”

As part of the design, development and trial service, a dedicated machine is set to focus solely on the part. By working together with the customer, the in-house tool room, and using the experience and knowledge of its employees, Forward is able to come up with a solution that aims to meet individual customer’s needs. “We are committed to providing customers with a first class service and product and being able to provide these added services, and work with customers, is a big positive,” adds Terry.

Guaranteeing quality
Forward’s extensive product range is all supplied in accordance with BS/EN/DIN/ISO and other recognised industry standards. “Quality is very important to us, which is why we are accredited to the ISO 9001 (2015) standard and also why we offer full traceability on all parts – along with accompanying quality documentation including ISIRs, FMEAs and PPAP Level 3,” mentions Phil. “We currently work in a variety of sectors that demand high-quality products, including rail, aerospace, telecommunication, civil engineering, security, and automotive, and therefore being able to meet the very highest quality is critical.”

Martyn adds: “At the moment we are working with automotive tier suppliers, so we are involved in producing PPAPs and we are also researching our options regarding IATF 16949 accreditation in the future. However, we are not wanting to focus solely on automotive, we want to be a UK manufacturer for a whole spectrum of industries.”

Martyn believes that being a UK manufacturer is a big positive within the market, especially when it comes to customers’ expectations. “Made in the UK is still a respected mark of quality within the fastener sector. Whilst we are not necessarily able to compete with the high volumes of Far Eastern imports, we can deliver extra services – such as rapid turnaround and guarantee of quality – and build relationships that provide an all round better service.”

Martyn continues: “Being a UK manufacturer is not easy and we have seen a lot of UK fastener manufacturers disappear in the market. We have kept going through keeping experience within the business, investing in staff and machinery, as well as keeping the quality of the products high and working closely with our customers to meet their needs.”

The impact of Covid-19
Covid-19 has undoubtedly had a big impact across the fastener sector, however, for Forward it has seen an increase of sales between 30% – 40%. “We haven’t needed to furlough anybody or ask for any government help yet as we have been ‘flat out’ producing products. One of the main reasons for this is that many of our customers supply essential services such as the NHS, Ministry of Defence and utilities, which means we are a key supplier to these businesses,” explains Phil. “It is nice knowing the work we are doing is playing a small part in helping to overcome the challenges of Covid-19.”

Forward is also planning for when Covid-19 passes and the market becomes more active. “Cash flow is going to be a critical factor over the next twelve months due to Covid-19, and therefore customers are going to be looking at suppliers and where they can potentially save money,” states Martyn. “Rather than having to buy 500,000 pieces from Asia and having a large sum of money tied up, we can offer customers smaller quantities as and when they need them.”

Forward planning
Forward’s main aim for the future is the diversification of its product range and to target key markets such as rail, aviation and construction. “To do this we are going to continue to modernise equipment and invest in new technology, which will help us increase our capabilities, such as adding size M22 to our range, as well as creating further capacity to meet customers’ needs.”

Martyn concludes: “We are always moving forward as a business and looking to continuously develop. We have the product range and the machining capability. Plus, we have a great core of employees – in their mid 30s and 40s – who have already developed their experience and knowledge, which is invaluable to our business. This means we are in a very strong position to grow in the future.”

Will Lowry Editor t: +44 (0) 1727 814 509

Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 12 years has experienced every facet of the fastener sector – interviewing key figures within the industry and visiting leading companies and exhibitions around the globe. Will manages the content strategy across all platforms and is the guardian for the high editorial standards that the brand is renowned.