In 2015, an Air Force reconnaissance plane caught fire. The fire endangered 27 airmen and caused $62.4 million in damage. An analysis of the incident discovered that a loose retaining nut caused the fire.
Thankfully, nobody was killed.
In 1998, a 20-foot section of a Boeing 767 wing came off during landing. Four weak bolts caused that disaster.
In 1987, the shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff. The disintegration of the vehicle began after a joint in its right solid rocket booster (SRB) failed at liftoff. The O-ring seals used in the joint were not designed to handle the unusually cold conditions on launch day.
Seven astronauts perished in what remains one of the most catastrophic aviation incidents in United States history.
When considering these stories, it’s important to remind yourself just how many parts it takes to build a plane. Upwards of one million fasteners are needed for many commercial or military aircraft. For instance, of the six million individual parts used to build the Boeing 747, three million are fasteners.
Fasteners are crucial to the safe operation of aircraft, and this is why contractors in the Aerospace & Defense (A & D) industry take sourcing so seriously. Contractors only work with suppliers who provide high-quality fasteners because a simple oversight can lead to a tragedy. In the A & D industry, there is no margin for error.
Finding such suppliers, however, is the tricky part. In this post, we’ll simplify the process for you. Here are the key pointers you need to pay attention to when choosing a quality military fastener supplier.
The A & D industry is heavily regulated. All parts used in manufacturing an aircraft must follow specific standards.
Choosing a military fastener supplier that meets such standards saves you the trouble of conducting numerous independent checks to ascertain the quality of a fastener. Besides, a certified fastener inventory ensures that you meet compliance standards.
In general, expect your fasteners to comply with one or more of the following standards:
Let’s examine each in a bit more detail.
Developed during World War II, the AN standard was introduced to ensure quality across all military equipment. While the AN standard was largely replaced by the Military Standard (MS) in the 1950s, it has remained a reference point for Defense contractors.
From 1950 to 1994, the MS was the go-to standard for aerospace contractors and OEMs. Also known as MIL-STD, MIL-SPEC, the MS standard aligns with objectives set by the US Department of Defense.
The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), working with the Department of Defense, has converted over 500 MS to National Aerospace Standards (NAS). That means these parts now align with commercial specifications, though they retain the MS parts number.
There are two standards under the NAS: NASM and NAM. NASM is used for inch-based measurements and NAM for metric-based measurements.
Other specifications and certifications that you should consider include AS9100, B1821, DFARS, and ITAR certifications. Overall, make sure that you thoroughly check certifications and compliance standards before choosing a military fastener supplier.
Full lot traceability is also known as lot control or manufacturing traceability. With lot traceability, you can track your parts through every stage of the supply chain back to the original manufacturer. Lot traceability can even apply to raw materials, so you know where raw materials came from.
It is critical in the A & D industry. You need to know where a part came from if there is ever a problem. Equally important, you need the ability to recall other parts in a lot if you identify an issue.
Be sure to select a supplier that provides full lot traceability. Lot traceability programs typically come with material certificates, FAIR (or First Article Inspection Review), plating certificates, Certificate of Conformance (CofC), batch traceability, and test certification.
When selecting your supplier, it is prudent to visit and become familiar with their website. This can be an invaluable resource in getting to know your supplier and their capabilities.
For example, you can find the names of previous or current clients. A top-notch supplier would likely be serving some of the most accomplished companies in the A & D industry. You can also find out what certifications they claim to have, something you can cross-check with a certification body.
Codes of conduct can provide useful insights into a business’s operations and ethos as well. The Supplier Code of Conduct is especially important if you are sourcing products overseas through a long supply chain.
At Fastbolt, we share our Supplier Code of Conduct and the Fastbolt Code of Conduct through our website. Our codes of conduct are a public proclamation and commitment that our business operations align with international best practices and will always comply with relevant national and international laws.
Our suppliers are monitored for compliance with our Supplier Code of Conduct by Fastbolt directly or through an authorized third party. These measures ensure you will never find yourself facing unwarranted scrutiny because of events that occur in your company’s supply chain.
Our codes of conduct are also there to facilitate compliance and clarity with respect to our expectations of supply partners and employees.
Also, find out how many years they have been in business and what they have accomplished in those years. A simple Google search can give you a list of your supplier’s mentions and feats. You can get useful information about your supplier from their blog and other sites like LinkedIn and Bloomberg.
Every company needs a human touch. Supply chain networks are often very complicated, and you’ll need to interact with people at various levels if you face a challenge. One cannot possibly overstate the importance of exemplary, personalized customer service.
First of all, find out what communication channels are available. Can you reach them through phone, email, and contact forms? Are there specialized communication channels for customers?
Also, be sure to find out how responsive and helpful their customer service personnel are. Industry review sites may provide some helpful insights. Reviews from previous clients also come in handy.
When selecting a military fastener supplier, make sure you choose a company that prioritizes your business. The firm you choose should go out of its way to offer advice and support before you become a customer, help you through the order process as you await delivery, and provide great after-sales support.
Fastbolt takes these responsibilities seriously. A critical element of the success of our business is our commitment to developing close working relationships with our customers and all of the companies involved in our international supply chains.
As mentioned earlier, our vetting process with suppliers guarantees that we only source goods from responsible companies who implement best business practices and provide goods that meet your needs. We ensure A & D goods comply with the necessary AN, MS, NASM, and NAM certification and standards.
While we trust our suppliers to always provide quality products, we never leave anything to chance. Our monitoring and evaluation practices include F.A.I. (First Article Inspection).We also provide full lot traceability so you can see where the goods were manufactured, what batch they came from, and how they were shipped to your facilities or facility.
That is just one example of the practices and policies we implement to ensure your satisfaction. Examples of other policies we implement when engaging with new customers include:
A handful of large military fastener suppliers have the correct certifications and can provide a large range of goods and services that you might require. Fastbolt is included in this list.
We are one of the leading military fastener suppliers in the United States and North America. The fasteners we supply to our clients meet all the key standards, including AN, MS, and NAS specifications. We offer full lot traceability to assure clients of high standards. Furthermore, we have the necessary certifications you would expect from your military fastener supplier. Fastbolt is ISO 9001:2015 Registered, AS9100 Rev D Registered, ITAR Compliant, and DFARS Compliant.
We have experience dealing with companies involved in military supply chain management. If you’re interested in working with a company that will take the time to understand your needs and ensure your satisfaction, drop us a line. Our knowledgeable and friendly customer service team is here to offer you support.