The U.S. fastener industry is a major contributor to the overall manufacturing sector and underpins most of the other hardware and production industries. The COVID-19 pandemic and other developments around the globe have impacted the industry over the past two years. Disruptions to the global economy have put major pressure on companies to revamp processes and reconsider operations at every step.
The availability of sophisticated infrastructure and global demand for quality products provide hope for U.S.-based manufacturers and distributors in the fastener industry. Even with the slowdown caused by the pandemic, the manufacturing of nuts, bolts, screws, and rivets will continue to grow by an adjusted forecast of 0.8% in 2021. Within these fine margins, companies can still find opportunities for growth if they act on some of the major trends influencing the fastener industry in the U.S. today.
5 Major Trends Driving the Fastener Industry in the U.S.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the hardware manufacturing industry’s revenues declined and analysts had to readjust forecasts for the coming period. Organizations are responding to the global slowdown by streamlining efficiencies, adopting digital technologies and seeking new sectors and emerging applications to find additional growth potential.
Globally, the screw, nut and bolt industry is valued at $25 billion annually. By responding to the current challenges in the market (and an increase in demand for advanced hardware devices), the industry will still grow over the medium term. To ensure your company can compete and thrive in this challenging climate, here are five of the main trends driving growth in the U.S. fastener industry.
1. Responding to a Tougher Business Climate
Traditional commerce models are stifling manufacturing and distribution companies and favoring more responsive organizations. A common trend in manufacturing and distribution is to establish direct commerce channels that market goods directly to the end user. By eliminating many of the intermediate handlers of goods, companies can reduce costs while growing sales.
Direct dialogue with customers, digital business-to-consumer (B2C) sales platforms, and a revamped marketing strategy can help increase revenues. Even for manufacturers and suppliers with a solid distributor base, new ecommerce offerings are a way organizations can ensure growth even in challenging business climates.
2. Specialization and Customization of Fasteners
One of the few benefits that came from the COVID-19 pandemic is an accelerated technology adoption and digital transformation. McKinsey notes that several years of technological advancement were condensed into a single year due to the global shutdown and economic fallout from the virus.
Manufacturers are now looking to use new technologies and specialization to develop innovative new fasteners for a wide range of applications. Customized fastening solutions with optimized manufacturing solutions can solicit additional growth from the sector. Special fasteners are already a growing market and commonly used in the aerospace, automotive, construction, mechanical and agricultural industries. Targeting these markets shows the biggest potential for generating new revenues over the coming years.
3. Remote Operations and Bigcommerce Re-platforming
By 2019, it was clear to most manufacturers that continued growth would depend on some form of digital transformation. While many knew the need for retooling, looking into remote operations and replatforming ecommerce systems, the adoption was slow until COVID-19. To maintain manufacturing and production operations, organizations need to rethink how they manage their machines and protect their workers.
It’s now critical to build a resilient manufacturing process that enables the company to respond effectively to disruptions. Customers need digital access to your services while technicians and engineers need to monitor machine operations remotely. Additionally, manufacturing and operations executives want real-time access to data from anywhere to help plan plant operations. Fastener manufacturers will need to look into all areas of their operations that could benefit from digitalization, automation and enhanced customer experience.
4. Rethinking Supply Chains to Respond to Changes Quickly
Supply chains were all but shut down for a large portion of 2020. These upstream disruptions had a cascading effect on every organization that depends on a fast and efficient service from suppliers. Everything from raw materials to vital components and machine spares was difficult to source once borders closed and factories shuttered.
To create a resilient manufacturing operation, organizations are looking into nearshoring and finding local suppliers for the products required to maintain production. Sudden shutdowns may remain a problem in the future, so finding suppliers closer to home can help maintain inventories. As demand is starting to return to normal pre-2020 levels, this should be part of the company’s strategy going forward.
5. Investing in New Forms and Fastening Technologies
Current market directives are reshaping the requirements of today’s fastening technologies. Companies need to step up and participate in the design of these technologies if they want to see growth in a transforming industry. Products that provide functional permanence are essential to most of today’s technologies and hardware systems. The fasteners that hold these equipment pieces together are becoming lighter, smaller and stronger every day.
Organizations need to consider what new fastening technologies will improve their customer’s operations and how to manufacture everything from in-die fastening systems to serially connected hex-head screws for assemblies. Unconventional fastener materials will also play a newfound role by providing benefits previously not possible with all-metal fasteners.
Benefits of hybrid fastener materials can include:
- Lightweight without compromising on strength
- Support for multifunctional devices and floating hardware designs
- Color-coded fasteners that don’t require safety flags when matching parts
- Less expensive to produce while remaining easier to manipulate and install
Discover the Latest Industry Updates at the International Fastener Expo in 2021
With these trends shaping the future of the fastener industry, manufacturers, distributors and end users need to ensure they understand the latest capabilities and market shifts on the horizon. At the International Fastener Expo, you can find out all the latest news, collaborate with industry experts, and learn from other company’s experiences over the past year.
Scheduled for September 21 – 23 this year, IFE brings together all the major players and innovators in the fastener industry under one roof. With over 5,000 attendees from more than 30 countries, IFE is the best place to see all the latest developments and uncover where you should be focusing your efforts to achieve new efficiencies.
Join the conversation on LinkedIn – we want to hear what trends you think will continue to shape the future of the Fastener Industry.