Learn how our technical support team can help you step-by-step with automotive manufacturing from Bostik's Technical Service Representative, Jesse Wenning.
As you know, automotive manufacturers and tier suppliers are focused on finding ways to improve production efficiencies, performance levels and sustainability features. Here at Bostik, our technical support team has the expertise to help you find ways to accomplish these goals while maintaining high performance and assembly efficiencies. We sat down with Jesse Wenning, Bostik’s Technical Service Representative for Durable Goods, where he shared how our experts can help you step-by-step.
Q: What are typical challenges you see OEMs and tier suppliers dealing with?
A: While the specific challenges vary with every customer, our initial conversations often reveal that everyone is trying to find ways to improve:
- Production efficiencies to reduce downtime and streamline assembly
- Performance levels to enhance the end user’s driving experience and safety
- Sustainability features to decrease carbon emissions
From concept to production, these components go hand in hand to optimize process efficiency, so we consider all of it during our initial discussions with customers.
Q:When Bostik discusses these challenges with customers, how does the discussion typically evolve?
A: Through those first stages of the discussions, our technical team identifies opportunities where we can offer solutions that include:
- Enhancing processing efficiencies: Adhesives can play a role in cycle times, robustness, substrate compatibility and dispense maintenance, which just about any company can benefit from getting assessed to speed up production. In addition to working with customers to optimize them, we determine the value-add our adhesive or sealant solutions can bring to simplify the overall their assembly process. This can include minimizing surface preparation, decreasing cycle times or overall SKUs.
- Improving performance levels: Since we know performance needs evolve, we design versatile solutions that can adhere or seal to various substrates including thermoset and thermoplastic composite materials, metals and glass. We also understand it’s sometimes necessary to change out one variable to address other application needs such as thermal management; our large portfolio enables us to help customers find solutions for their entire end-use application, ensuring the components work together to provide high strength, meet stringent automotive requirements and enhance the aesthetics that are especially important in Class A body panel applications.
- Increasing sustainability: We know lightweighting is key when improving fuel efficiency, but we also go beyond those efforts to help customers improve their environmental footprint. We’ve developed adhesives that are compatible with thermoplastic bonding applications, such as liftgates, to help enhance the vehicle’s overall recyclability. In addition, many of our adhesives are well suited in dissimilar material bonding, which results in lower component weight while maintaining strength and durability requirements. We’re also continuously helping customers utilize adhesives and sealants in EV batteries so they can achieve high strength while reducing overall vehicle weight and extending battery range.
Q: What are the steps involved in helping OEMs or tier suppliers receive the support they need?
A: We develop long-term relationships with our customers and support them whenever they need our expertise. Whether it’s through testing in the development phase or problem solving later on during production, our partnerships are built on trust.
Starting from the initial testing phase, our main goals typically include:
- Performance testing for new products: Every OEM or tier supplier has specifications that need to be met. With our in-house lab testing, we’ll run trials on their substrates; typically, we are looking for adhesion strength, robustness and any potential issues due to environmental conditions. We’ll also use different test methods to determine the most suitable curing times and temperatures to build bonding or sealing strength. Ensuring our solutions help customers’ end-product pass specifications is important for both their company and ours. It can save the customer valuable time and resources, and it helps us better understand how our solutions can serve the market.
- Finding new applications that are compatible with existing adhesives and sealants: Some of our products, like our Pliogrip™ structural adhesives, have been around for decades, but there can still be new opportunities to use them in ways we may not have yet considered. That’s why our technical support team tests different substrates when we’re looking for adhesive strength; this can include various types of metals (coated, bare, aluminum, steel), glass and plastic, for example. It’s important for us to continue testing how commonly-used adhesives or sealants, because any time a substrate changes, the customer needs to reevaluate whether that change still meets industry specifications. Additionally, there’s been numerous issues in recent years with raw material availability, specifically in the thermoset composite substrates. The Pliogrip™ technical service lab has worked closely with our customers to qualify the modified substrates and help to avoid production downtime.
Further, our Pliogrip™ polyurethane adhesives have rheology characteristics that allow them to gravity feed into the metering pumps. Simply stated, this allows us to manufacture Pliogrip™ adhesives in 300-gallon recyclable totes while competitive options are highly viscous and can only be packaged in drums. Gravity fed adhesives such as the Pliogrip™ polyurethane adhesives nearly eliminate five to fifteen percent of residual drum waste versus an adhesive with high viscosity components, allowing you to get the most from your supply. In addition, most Pliogrip™ adhesives are formulated with long open time and very fast cure heat response. This combination not only increases production efficiency, but it also minimizes purge waste.
- Supporting existing products throughout their commercialization in the field: Along with the technical support, part of my role is also involved in the business development side and working with our R&D, chemists and account managers to help customers define what they need to commercialize a product. This includes communicating the processing and adhesion requirements with the right Bostik team members and making sure we have all the right experts involved to help the customer.
- Testing phase: We’ll support a product from its infancy in lab testing and evaluations, down to prototyping trials and tooling phases to make preproduction parts—through all these steps, we’ll continuously validate the adhesive or sealant so the customer is sure it’s performing the way it’s intended.
- Preproduction phase: We’ll go on to ensure the adhesive or sealant performs during the beta build vehicle, crash and safety testing, providing whatever support is necessary to maintain that strength and robustness through environmental conditioning.
- Commercialization: Once the product is in full commercialization, we are still here to help ensure the adhesive or sealant performs correctly. It’s always great when we can be a part of the product’s development from start to finish, because it allows us to see the adhesive performance throughout every stage; therefore, if any problems do arise during commercialization, we can backtrack to determine what may be causing the issue.
Q: Speaking of support during commercialization, can you tell us what customers can expect if they need technical support team to assist in troubleshooting?
A: When our customers need help addressing a problem they’re experiencing at the facility, we will test the:
- Adhesion or sealant strength
- How the adhesive or sealant is processing
- How the substrates themselves are bonding
The process in which we do that will vary based on the severity of the problem. For example, sometimes it’s simply a phone or video call. If the issue is more serious, we’ll have the customer send us samples that our analytical team can review; something like this will be prioritized so the customer can get feedback quickly. If the problem needs immediate attention, we will schedule a visit to the plant to assess further. When we visit the facility, we’ll make sure the equipment is working properly, checking things like a fault pump or bonding temperatures, possible contamination or poor mix ratio. Based on the results, we’ll provide a thorough breakdown of what we’ve found with recommendations on the next steps to take. It’s also important for customers to also know that we work closely with equipment manufacturers to ensure our products offer easy processing on their lines. This allows us to get more details as needed that could help us determine the problem.
Q: What is a key takeaway you feel is important to know about Bostik’s technical support?
A: Our technical service team is a big reason why we develop long-lasting partnerships with our customers. They know we have someone on our team who can provide the answers they need, no matter the phase they’re at with a product. They don’t just purchase a product from Bostik; they purchase a product and also receive the support to know how to use it effectively; they also have a team of experts always available for whatever questions arise in the future.
Are you looking for technical support in a specific phase of your automotive manufacturing? Contact a Bostik expert to learn more on the ways we can assist your specific needs. You can also contact Jesse directly if you have questions on testing or troubleshooting.
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