If you’re in the manufacturing world, you’ve likely heard the term “OEM.” Depending on the specific industry, company, and role you’re in, your definition of and perspective on that term may be different from the next guy’s.

As a specialty fastener manufacturer, the Wilson-Garner team has been working alongside OEMs to create safe, effective, innovative solutions for years. We’ll share a bit about that experience below, and how fasteners make their way into the OEM space.

What Is an OEM?

Let’s start with the big-picture overview of what an OEM is.

OEM stands for original equipment manufacturer, which is a pretty flexible term that can mean different things to different people, companies, industries, etc. However, it essentially refers to the company that makes an end product or a complete system within that end product, whatever that may be.

Here are some examples of OEMs to demonstrate that idea:

General Motors is an OEM for cars (end product).

Allison Transmission is an OEM for transmissions used in military tanks and other heavy-duty vehicles (complete system within an end product).

What Is an OEM Fastener?

Manufacturers of smaller systems or components (like fasteners) aren’t usually considered OEMs. However, there are many OEMs that need these systems and components specifically manufactured to fit their product, which is where an OEM fastener could come in.

In that sense, an OEM fastener is any type of fastener that’s custom-designed and -manufactured for a specific OEM product. It’s different from an aftermarket fastener, which isn’t produced for a specific application, but rather to be compatible with as many products as possible.

RELATED: Need a specialty bolt, screw, or stud? Wilson-Garner can help.

How Do Fastener Manufacturers Work With OEMs?

So what does that process look like? How do fastener manufacturers help OEMs get the specialty parts they need? Here are the general steps:

      1. The OEM designs their new product, while also creating blueprints for any non-standard fasteners they need to build it. These blueprint specifications include things like dimensions, materials, coatings, etc. if the OEM has that information. If the OEM needs help determining things like material or coating, they may consult with a fastener manufacturer before finalizing the blueprints.
      2. The OEM sends those blueprints to one or more specialty fastener manufacturers, requesting a quote in return. If sent to multiple manufacturers, the OEM chooses which bid to accept — in other words, which manufacturer to work with.
      3. The chosen fastener manufacturer fulfills the request and manufactures specialized fasteners in their plant.

It’s important to note that sometimes these blueprints are for production parts that will go on the actual end product, while others are for parts used in testing another product. For example, Wilson-Garner manufactures bolts used in torque tension testing for the automotive industry.

Wilson-Garner’s Work Manufacturing Fasteners for OEMs

At Wilson-Garner, we have experience working with many OEMs to manufacture per-spec, limited-run fasteners for both test products and end products. Some of our most notable include:

Chrysler test products
Ford test products
GM test products
John Deere test products
Service parts for OEM military vehicles

You can find more information on these test products on each of their pages on our website, linked above.

A methodology we’ve found to be especially helpful while manufacturing OEM fasteners is short-run production (AKA limited-run production). Before committing to large production runs, OEMs will often order a small batch of prototype fasteners in order to determine feasibility. This allows them to ensure everything works as intended before incurring the cost of a large production run.

If you’re an OEM or you’re running an OEM-specific test, we can help you too! We’ll manufacture and supply the parts you need with confidence and accuracy. You hand us the blueprints, and we’ll handle the rest. To get started working with us, give us a call at (800) 656-2658 or contact us online.


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