June 08, 2022
Climate protection is becoming increasingly important. When it comes to reducing carbon dioxide production, special attention is paid to manufacturing industries – especially the automotive industry. Here, Annedore Bose-Munde, a qualified engineer and business and technical journalist, looks at how fastener manufacturer Arnold Group plays a role in sustainability in the fasteners industry.
When we look at global developments in the automotive industry, it is clear that the new cars and vans in Europe produced over the years are becoming heavier – from an average of 1268 kg in 2000, rising to 1360 kg in 2010 and 1420 kg by 2020. With the development of more hybrid and electric vehicles, this trend will increase. The weight of the battery alone means that an electric vehicle weighs an average of 300 kg more than a vehicle with a conventional engine.
However, by optimizing fuel consumption and discovering new and innovative propulsion concepts, it was possible to achieve a significant reduction in CO2 emissions – from about 175 g CO2/ km in 2000, up to 140g CO2/ km in 2010 and 95 g CO2/ km by 2020. This trend must continue over the next few years if we are to achieve our climate protection goals in the future.
Manufacturers of fasteners sustainability must be looked at
One thing we can be sure of is that in order to keep the carbon footprint as low as possible, everyone needs to come together to develop and implement strategies aimed at consistent climate protection. Sustainability is essential for The German – based fastener manufacturer Arnold Group, as it is one of five strategic approaches used by the company – together with e-mobility, internationalization, light engineering and digitalisation.
Climate protection and sustainable use of resources have long been firmly established principles for the company, long before the growing debate on climate change today. When Arnold was founded in 1898, its first factory was located in an existing mill, which means that the machines are powered by renewable energy – water.
Over the decades of its operation, the issue of sustainability has continued to intertwine with Arnold’s corporate activities, including CO2 the emissions listed in the 2014 Annual Sustainability Reports. Since 2016, Arnold has also publicly reaffirmed its sustainable corporate leadership with its statement ‘Blue Fastening System’. In 2022, this development will continue with the signing of the UN Global Compact Initiative.
View emissions everywhere the whole supply chain
Arnold appreciates the fact that resilience and carbon neutrality are taken into account throughout the supply chain. An individual footprint invoice is prepared for each product throughout the value chain. Emissions from each section of the supply chain are summed. This means that downstream companies take the total emissions from their own suppliers and then pass them on with their own CO.2 added feeds to its customers. It is the responsibility of each company in the supply chain to take responsibility not only for its own processes and the power it uses, but also for previous and subsequent processes.
That’s why Arnold created the ACO2-Keep the initiative. With this initiative, customers and consumers are actively supported to reduce CO2 emissions through the design and sustainable use of fasteners and cold-formed parts. The calculation of carbon is done during the development process. Using our own CO2 calculator – developed internally – Arnold can determine the carbon footprint of the product for the part the customer asks for, and then work together to improve it. The goal here is at the end of the development process to make the product technically high quality and optimized in terms of cost and CO22 imprint.
ACO2-Save provides many options for CO2 savings
To limit CO2 emissions at the development stage, for example by avoiding unnecessary testing and prototyping, Arnold developers use digital forecasting tools such as FEM analysis and its own in-house forecasting program. This significantly reduces the number of possible options, thus saving time, money and CO2.
However, the greatest savings are made through the use of innovative fastening and cold forming technologies. For example, working with its customers, Arnold analyzes options for changing the technology of parts production – including whether parts that have been machined so far can be more efficiently produced as cold formed parts. It is also possible to check whether existing threaded screws can be replaced with thread-forming screws, completely eliminating the need for threading tools and the emissions they cause.
Another option is to reduce the size by using innovative fasteners, for example by replacing the M5 screw with the M4. Finally, innovative fastening systems help to reduce weight – especially when it comes to combining mixtures of different materials – and this ultimately means reducing the car’s overall emissions.
To illustrate exactly how this ACO2-The Save initiative works, let’s look at a specific example. The task was to subject a special screw made of aluminum to a review in terms of technology, price and CO2 issue. As an alternative, the Conform Next screw has been developed. Thanks to its designed design, it has proven to be suitable for use in components with larger diameters, longer components, more complex geometries and larger weights, ie. heavier components. The volume of the previously used part is 8733 mm³, each item weighed 23.5 g and was processed in the traditional way. A workpiece for a lathe part was used on the production line and its volume was 25 830 mm³, with a weight of 69.2 g each item.
The developers of Arnold performed ACO2-Save the analysis and change the part of the shaped part in the Conform range. After the improvement, the volume of the molded blank is 9.135 mm³ and each weighs 24.82 g. In other words, the molding process requires much less input material, as there is very little waste during the production process.
Apart from a significant improvement in the costs created by the lower material requirements for the cold forming process, this also has a significant effect on the carbon footprint of the product for this special screw. By reducing the workload, creating less waste and thus making the production process more efficient, it was possible to reduce all CO2 emissions generated by this screw by 45%.
This single example already shows that there is significant potential to reduce the carbon footprint of the product with Arnold’s ACO2-Keep the initiative. Accordingly, this also means that pragmatic and individual analysis of other possible approaches to change, with regard to anchoring decisions, should be treated as responsibly as possible corporately and socially.