Fastener Manufacturing: Honsel on serving the automotive market

Honsel is a well established and leading fastener supplier to the automotive industry. Thanks to a 3,500 m2 expansion six years ago, the production area at its Fröndenberg HQ now spans 15,000 m2 as well as a recently enlarged logistics facility.

The manufacturer has come a long way since it began 90 years ago. It was 1930 when Alfred Honsel established the business, which started out manufacturing household goods like plant pots and frying pans held together with (crucially) rivets.

By the 1950s, the firm was specialising in blind rivet technology and within a decade had reportedly become Europe’s biggest manufacturer of friction and clutch pad rivets. In the ‘70s, Honsel relocated to Wernher-von-Braun-Straße in Fröndenberg, where Torque Magazine caught up with the firm.

Now, as a formidable player in the automotive sector, the business has key locations in France (in Frasne, in the South East) and in China’s Jiangsu province, in Wuxi (while VVG, part of the Honsel Group, is set in Neumünster, Germany). The international reach of Honsel extends further still, not least in the USA, where the firm has brought in a new sales representative in July of this year.

By the 1980s and ‘90s, Honsel was specialising in blind rivet nuts and studs. These days, 80% of Honsel’s manufacturing is product engineered for specific applications and customer requirements.

Backed by technical support, Honsel uses state- of-the-art engineering tools like SolidWorks, Catia V5 and FEA to engineer products for clients. There’s a dedicated sampling and prototype department as well as an in-house Tool Room.

Vertical integration in production is possible thanks to an in-house induction heat treatment, plastic moulding and assembly. Offering plastic over moulding, O-Ring assembly and high speed automated assembly, Honsel also has capabilities of laser welding and crimping for blind rivet stud assembly. Secondary processing is available too, whether it is drilling, milling, pointing or similar. Honsel can also provide continuous furnace facilities with inductive annealing and inductive hardening.

The firm’s production facilities boast complex cold forming capabilities too, covering six different stages. Wire can be processed up to 20mm in diameter, while five or six die machines provide high complexity and tight tolerances. Honsel can cold form with a variety of materials, including steel, stainless steel, aluminium, brass and copper.

Quality is always important in the fastener game and perhaps no more so than in the automotive sector, so naturally Honsel has a vast array of QA tools and facilities, including metallurgic testing, hardness testing (HV and HB), Profil projectors, length and roughness testing, microscopes that provide up to thousandfold magnification and an universal testing machine up to 200kN. Honsel is ISO 14001 and IATF 16949 certified and has had a continuously certified quality system since 1995, in fact.

A new weather independent loading area has been installed and Honsel’s overall logistics building has – like its manufacturing floor – been recently expanded, as of 2018, with a 4,500 m2 logistics building. Modern packaging machines pack bags (with and without coating), cardboard boxes and KLTs, while the firm has employed modern PPS and WMS systems to bolster its capabilities.

Alongside expansion of capabilities and facilities, the Honsel headcount has likewise grown too. Ten years ago, Honsel personnel numbered around 184, where now that figure is closer to 350, while the keen apprenticeship advocate has on average 20 apprentices at any one time, in different departments.

Turnover has also increased significantly, not least over the past decade or so, with Europe providing 75% of that total, Asia 17% and the US, Canada and Mexico contributing a combined 8%. Overall turnover numbers now sit just under €65 million, notably up from circa €22 million in 2009.

As for the next decade, we can’t tell exactly what it holds, but it seems highly likely that Honsel will continue to increase its manufacturing and logistics capabilities as well as turnover, while deepening its relationship and work with the automotive sectors and beyond.

This article was first published in Torque Magazine. Don’t get the mag? You can apply for a free subscription online today. Or take a look at back issues in the Torque Magazine archive