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Keep it fastened for a quieter ride

11 October 2012

After the roller coaster ride of 2011, industry experts forecast an upward shift in gears for the global auto industry. In the main, this is down to the 'new car smell' tempting recession-weary car buyers into finally taking the plunge and trade in their rambling wrecks, enticed by the latest technology and more freely flowing credit.

As a result, despite ongoing economic uncertainties in the Eurozone, the EU auto industry is expected to be a key industry to follow, with a forecast of 14 million car sales predicted for the current year. With regard to new car design, sustainability continues to be the driving force behind this industry growth. However, to the car buyer who is searching for the best performing, yet most fuel-efficient vehicle, the areas of a vehicle where the greatest efficiency gains can be made may not always be that obvious.

According to auto access hardware and positioning control specialist, Southco, there is a continuing requirement in the design of new cars and trucks for the attachment of lightweight underbody protective shields. These improve both aerodynamic efficiency beneath the vehicle and overall fuel economy by decreasing drag.

Further benefits are to be gained from reduced road and engine noise being transmitted into passenger compartments – already a legislative requirement in many parts of the world - together with underbody component protection from road impact, debris, and ingress and accumulation of dirt and water spray into the engine compartment.

More cars and more underbody protective shields are good news for companies within the automotive OEM supply chain, as this increases the demand for associated components, such as robust fastening mechanisms. These fasteners must allow both rapid and easy installation on the assembly line, yet also enable subsequent fast access for post-assembly servicing. 

Southco is tackling these access demands with its Dzus branded quarter-turn fastener range. Dzus, the pioneer of quick-access fasteners with a history going back to the 1930s, was acquired by Southco in 2004 and the two brands have been harmonised, enhanced and developed over the past eight years.

The key benefits of Dzus quarter-turn fasteners include resistance to vibration, fatigue and temperature changes; resistance to corrosion, and the choice of a variety of head style options. Furthermore, thanks to advanced technology developed by working closely with automotive customers over many years, Dzus fasteners are easily secured to steel, aluminium or composite chassis underbody components through pre-punched holes. Southco’s Ulrike Sturman takes up the story:

“There is a perpetual contrast between fasteners based on traditional screw thread systems and those based on quick-release mechanisms. It has long been perceived that, for a robust and durable fastening system, threaded fasteners offer the most cost-effective solution.

“However, although a threaded system might be cheap to buy, the time it takes to lock and unlock the system makes it expensive in terms of initial installation as well as ongoing service. The recovery gains of the Dzus quick access quarter-turn system, made from reducing the time it takes to install and then from ongoing access needed for servicing more than outweighs the upfront investment.

“Also, the Dzus quarter-turn stud is retained in the panel and will not get lost during maintenance work. In summary, Dzus quarter-turn quick release fasteners offer a competitive alternative to existing threaded systems by capitalising on the ‘added value’ solution.”

More recently, Southco has developed a range of new quarter-turns and accessories. These include a stud that has an orientated head feature to cam. This brings the added benefits of the head feature always engaging and locking in the same position.  The lock position of panel fasteners can therefore be identified, and installation time is speeded up.

Furthermore, in response to the increased use of textile-type panels in the auto industry, Southco offers larger washer faced quarter turns which spread the load and therefore provide for a stronger and more robust fastening system. Ulrike Sturman again:

“At Southco, we are looking closely at the market potential resulting from the increased demand for new cars and 4x4s and we also recognise the significant opportunities presented by the growing electric car market, where our fasteners are ideal for securing, and providing quick access to, battery pack enclosures.”

Dzus fasteners are available in a variety of product lines, each with its own set of matched receptacles designed for accurate, secure engagement and convenient mounting in a range of applications. 

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