Q&A with Terry Bartley
We asked our social media audience to ask Terry Bartley, Director of Engineering, Würth Industrial Division, their burning questions about the Würth Engineering department.
Terry has been in the fastener industry since 1989, has supported both industrial and automotive industries, and has been with Würth for eleven years. Read on for the questions and his answers!
Q. Given current issues in the Supply Chain, what are some challenges the Engineering team is facing?
A. As engineers, we are wired to solve problems. The supply chain issues, COVID, port delays, and container shortages have definitely put a strain on our ability to receive product as scheduled. Engaging with our customer engineering teams and utilizing our 400+ years of experience (20 engineers), we have been able to minimize the number of disruptions by understanding the application's performance requirements and offering alternative solutions. The motto "Bad news early is good news" allows us to validate the options and minimize the risk. In short, we will offer various options to support the gap until our production parts are received and the supply chain is filled.
Q. As technology keeps moving forward at a break neck pace, how does the Engineering team keep ahead of the curve?
A. Our teams are very engaged with our supply base. We work with them understand any new capabilities they add to their core competencies, or new specifications/standards that are released that affect our industry. We are also constantly doing training with suppliers through joint plant visits, lunch and learns, and on-site demonstrations.
Q. What does your team look for when they do line walks?
A. Line walks are extremely beneficial when we are looking for Value Add/Value Engineering (VA/VE) opportunities. We look for any bottlenecks in the assembly line process and ways to consolidate parts. We’ll evaluate simple assemblies or kitting that we could provide to our customer already complete, which will free up space, labor, and eliminate carrying costs for them. We not only look at product, but also the process in order to identify waste or to propose more efficient methods for assembly. A line walk in conjunction with a product teardown event is ideal and has proven to be mutually beneficial for our customer partners and Würth.
Q. What tools are there to mitigate rising input costs and margin compression as 40-year high inflation takes root? Do you find ways to use less product to achieve the same outcome?
A. Every application needs to be evaluated. We look at “in place” costs and not just the cost of the hardware. For instance, if we can use a thread rolling screw in an untapped hole, the fastener is more expensive than a typical machine screw, but not having to drill and tap a hole is very beneficial. Not only does this scenario eliminate processes, it also eliminates potential failure modes. We look at ways to consolidate and standardize parts by utilizing our international database. Adding volume to current product provides our suppliers the opportunity to increase their run sizes (improves efficiencies), reduces part numbers, and promotes partnerships between all parties involved.
Q. When a customer comes to you for a VA/VE opportunity, what are your team's first steps to find that cost-saving solution?
A. We always start with a complete understanding of the application, as well as the performance requirements necessary to meet our customers’ objectives. This is typically done with the customer in their design engineering facility and also through evaluating the process in the manufacturing plants. During line walks, we look at off-line assembly processes or cells to see if we can provide the part to the customer already assembled. We look at screw machined products to determine if they can be cold headed. We also evaluate the process to eliminate waste or identify more efficient methods of assembly. Many VA/VE opportunities come in the form of eliminating part numbers, part consolidation,s or finding a way to utilize an industry standard part.
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