Acument regularly audits licensees for quality. The audit process is specific to the licensee’s licensed manufactured product and physically checks the quality of the product’s licensed features. When inspecting the audit samples, we ensure that they meet the specifications for quality and workmanship as called out in our controlled standards manuals. This audit program, provided only to Acument licensees, is yet another reason why customers prefer to use our licensed products versus imitation product. Using our licensed products is the only assurance OEMs have of receiving parts from manufacturers whose specific production is regularly and independently audited for quality. This assures OEMs that they will be receiving the same quality product throughout the world when using one of our licensed sources.
Specifications are necessary and have controlled the manufacturing of fasteners since the 1800’s. These specifications have been developed through the coordinated efforts of manufacturers, consumers, engineers, societies, and trade associations throughout the world assuring performance requirements are met for all common fasteners. The TORX® drive system is controlled by using a complete set of standards developed and maintained for over 45 years. With nearly every industry using fasteners, the TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive system are thought of as a high-strength, high-quality drive system. The TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive systems are documented to assure conformance. Only the TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive licensees, worldwide, have access to the confidential TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive standards specifications and “know-how” to produce a consistent and authentic TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive products. The Acument licensing program is the largest fastener licensing program in the world with all world-wide TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive licensees listed on the Acument web-site, www.acument.com/licensing/licensedsuppliers.asp. Only TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive licensees have the right to use the TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive trademarks and manufacturing “know-how”.
1. Uniform Design of Licensed Product
Acument issues manufacturing and design standards to TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive licensees. These standards are “living documents” which control the form, fit, and function of the genuine TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive system. Improvements and modifications are regularly made to the specifications. As for imitation product, there are no centrally, controlled design or quality specifications available to non-licensed “six-lobe” manufacturers. Therefore, there is no assurance of consistency in the design or quality of non-licensed product, from one supplier to the next.
2. Development and Maintenance of Product Design
As originator of the TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive systems, Acument remains a design resource to licensees for standard fastener designs. This ensures that any OEM designer can approach any licensed manufacturer of genuine TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive fasteners, get consistent design advice, and backed by Acument’s licensee support. Non-licensed manufacturers act as independent resources offering no consistency between suppliers, or any licensor support to the OEM designer. Lacking access to TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive design specifications, these suppliers cannot provide the technical expertise required that our licensees, and Acument, are able to provide.
3. Confidential Manufacturing Standards
The established manufacturing specifications for genuine TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive (or any other imitation drive) are those issued only by Acument for exclusive and confidential use by licensed TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive manufacturers. Other specifications are merely incoming inspection standards, which have different dimensions than manufacturing specifications. All currently existing or proposed industry or OEM standards are for inspection only and are not intended, nor adequate for manufacturing purposes. Non-licensed producers, in most cases, are not producing generic product to any kind of manufacturing standard.
4. Access to Genuine Certified Gages
Genuine TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive gages are manufactured and sold exclusively to TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive licensees, and Acument facilities. These gages are manufactured using a unique process meeting Acument’s stringent TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive dimensional gage specifications. They are then “certified” by Acument, in our own A2LA accredited lab. Other generic, imitation gages, sold by non-licensed sources, do not meet Acument’s licensed product certification requirements.
5. Quality Audit of Licensees
Licensed TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive manufacturers are regularly audited for quality by Acument. This audit process, unlike ISO or QS 9000 processes, is specific to the licensees’ TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive manufactured product. Physical checks of the quality of specific TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive are made. Non-licensed manufacturers do not have their imitation production actually inspected by any outside resource. The other quality audit and certifications (i.e. ISO, QS, Q1, etc.) merely allow “self certification” by the non-licensed manufacturer itself using generic gaging that has not been certified by Acument as accurate. Using licensed TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive manufacturers is the only assurance OEM’s have of getting parts from manufacturers whose specific production is regularly and independently audited for quality.
6. Inspection and Re-Certification of Gages
Gages are perishable tooling. Through use, they begin to wear and eventually loose their capability to control limits. Acument provides all licensed TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive manufacturers with unlimited, free inspection, and re-certification of genuine TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive gages. This same service is offered to OEM’s who purchase genuine TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive fasteners from a licensed fastener supplier. This service ensures that genuine TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive gaging, used only by licensed manufacturers, remains consistent, and within the established Acument specifications.
7. Access to Genuine Manufacturing Tools
It is impossible to inspect quality into a product. Therefore, the manufacturing process must be the controlling factor. The quality of a TORX® or TORX PLUS® drive recess begins with the quality of the tool used to make it. Genuine TORX® drive manufacturing tools are made only by licensed tooling manufacturers. These tooling sources must meet the same exacting procedures and quality auditing processes as fastener manufacturers. This is to ensure that genuine TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive tooling is of consistent quality around the world. These tools are available only to licensed TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive fastener manufacturers. Generic tooling, used by non-licensed fastener manufacturers, comes from several sources, none of which have the advantages of certification, or a quality audit controlled by any central resource.
8. Manufacturing Know-How
The unique shapes of the TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive systems configuration make them difficult to manufacture. During Acument’s 45-plus years of manufacturing TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive products, we have developed considerable manufacturing expertise aimed at producing the highest quality TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive product possible. This manufacturing expertise, or “Know-How” as it is referred to, is a key advantage that is provided exclusively to our licensed manufacturers.
9. Ongoing Training and Technical Support
Assuring highest quality product requires consistent training and support by Acument of licensed manufacturers. Acument routinely conducts technical seminars and training sessions with TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive licensees around the world. This ensures that as new people come into the organizations; they keep updated on the special requirements of designing, manufacturing, and controlling the quality of genuine TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive fasteners. As the Licensor of the TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive systems, we assist licensed manufacturers with production and engineering problems to be certain they can overcome those challenges to meet their customers’ requirements. This type of help and support is not available to non-licensed producers of imitation product. If they have manufacturing or quality problems that they cannot resolve, they have no one to ask for assistance. Our licensees do.
10. FASTCALC Software
Acument has developed, and makes available exclusively to TORX® drive licensees, our proprietary FASTCALC software. This unique engineering tool is used to determine the optimum recess design for special heads. It also is useful for analysis of special recess depths to prevent poor designs. All licensed TORX® drive manufacturers have this software and are trained in its use. Most non-licensed manufacturers do not have access to this type of tool so therefore, they cannot give guidance to customers’ engineers on recess design nor alert them when a problem may exist.
11. Tooling Cost
Licensed manufacturers of genuine TORX® drive tooling consist of some of the best, most capable, and experienced producers of fastener tooling in the world. Most of these companies have years of experience in manufacturing genuine TORX® drive tooling using the unique, confidential and proprietary Know-How licensed to them by Acument. This experience enables these manufactures to offer genuine TORX® drive tooling to licensees at costs that are usually significantly lower than non-licensed manufacturers can achieve. In addition, the quality of the genuine TORX® drive tooling contributes to the superior life expectancy of these tools leading to further manufacturing cost advantages for TORX® drive licensees.
All genuine TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive gages that are manufactured, certified, and sold will be processed solely through the Acument licensing group. Sales of Confidential TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive gages will only be made to TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive licensees as the gages are considered proprietary technology belonging to Acument. OEMs or end users of TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive product that require receiving inspection gaging, can purchase the proper incoming inspection gages from the TORX® and TORX PLUS® drive licensee that manufactured the licensed product for them.
Acument has received a number of questions from licensees concerning the recently issued standard ISO 10664 “Hexalobular Internal driving feature for bolts and screws”. This standard has been in development since 1988 and Acument has been involved with it since the beginning. We want to inform all of our TORX® drive licensees as to what this standard is and what it is not.
We all recognize the tremendous popularity of the TORX® drive system around the world. This popularity has created a desire amongst most major users to develop a “standard” for these fasteners. The original TORX® drive “user” standards were published by Camcar® back in 1968 and given to all of our customers for use in developing their own drawings and standards. These user standards do not contain any confidential manufacturing specifications. They are inspection standards for our customer’s incoming inspection use. Each licensee also has a set of these user standards in your TORX® drive standards books. They are in the front of the books (with no confidential marking). These dimensions were used by all the major automotive manufacturers during the past 45 years to set up their own internal standards. The common item about all of these is that they are incoming inspection standards, not fastener manufacturing standards.
The new ISO standard is the same as all of these customers have been publishing for the past 30 years. The ISO standard shows all of the same information that is in the non-confidential section of the TORX® drive user standards. It is the same kind of information located in the Ford and Chrysler standards. When Camcar® agreed to work with ISO on the development of this standard, they were told that we would not divulge any confidential information and that it would be for incoming inspection purposes only. ISO agreed to this and, in fact, in paragraph 1 on the first page of the ISO standard, it states:
“The intent of this International Standard is to provide the details necessary for inspection of the hexalobular driving feature. It is not suitable for, nor intended to be used as a manufacturing standard.”
This statement recognizes that the standard contains no confidential manufacturing specifications, which only licensed TORX® drive manufacturers have access.
As most of you are aware, many automotive standards use generic names for TORX® drive. They have used “lobed recesses”, “six lobe”, “star”, and other such descriptive terms. The ISO standards call them “hexalobular”. Despite what the customer calls the fastener recess, as a licensed TORX® drive manufacturer, your license obligates you to provide an authentic “TORX” drive fastener to them. Your manufacture of these products uses the confidential manufacturing specifications, know-how, tooling and gages provided exclusively to you by Acument under the terms of your license.
We believe that eventually, the presence of this ISO standard will lead to even more use of the TORX® drive system around the world. As a licensee for TORX® drive, this will ultimately benefit you as well. It is important though, that you also continue to promote to your customers the advantages that you as a licensee have with your genuine TORX® drive tooling, gaging, and know-how. This is not in the ISO standard and is not available to anyone other than TORX® drive licensees.