Sponsored story: Can you improve your business?

Martin Clarke, pictured, TFC Group Managing Director & Brian Goode, TFC Technical Director, look at ways in which their company can help customers achieve their goals.

For over 40 years, TFC Europe Ltd has been supplying technical fasteners and fixings to industries throughout Europe. TFC's strategic approach to location and efficient distribution streams has enabled the Sussex-based company to position itself as a leading technical and logistical supplier to Europe and beyond. Servicing over 24 countries with its products, TFC has been at the forefront of technical fixing and fastening solutions, taking the company beyond being a 'distributor' to that of a 'technical partner', equipped with the knowledge and expertise to deliver solutions for industry.

It is the in-depth skill base that TFC provides to its clients that add a level of service beyond that of being a distributor and builds on the platform of trust the company has with leading manufacturers such as Smalley. TFC works closely with its partners to ensure it draws on a wealth of expertise and knowledge to provide solutions when they are needed. TFC offers an unparalleled level of design and logistical know-how to ensure clients receive the solution fit for purpose.

TFC's logistical out-reach stems from the locations of its key distributions centres in the UK and Europe and the company has focussed on ensuring that it provides systems for clients which make ordering and reordering components a thing of the past. With an eye on saving client's money, TFC's flexible supply chain management systems take the pain out of replenishing stock and helps drive down cost through channelling orders via a one stop shop approach. Whether you operate a track-line feed, direct-line feed or point of use twin-bin operation, TFC can arrange multi-weekly visits to sites, with automated direct or remote re-ordering to ensure an efficient, continuous, and worry free supply of stock.

As well as holding individual approval from some of the world's leading companies, TFC has been a BS/EN/ISO 9002 Approved Supplier since 1990 and has also achieved ISO 9001:2000 approval incorporating design status. TFC's comprehensive product training ensures our sales team are aware of the latest product knowledge and design solutions. We are always available to give advice and discuss specific fastening applications.

TFC has made strategic acquisitions to encourage growth and increase product range and form part of the increased customer's service portfolio to offer customers an increased knowledge base and distribution platform. As TFC moves into 2011 its strategy ensures a continuous improvement to processes, ensuring projects are delivered to agreed timescales and continuing to be ambitious for growth from organic and invested platforms.

Key focus for the group will be:
• Growing the business and being passionate about its quality reputation
• Continuing its customer focus and developing important partnerships
• Leading with innovative product marketing and with technical sales
• Developing the service centre opportunities
• Developing acquisition strategy through complementary growth opportunities

For customers this approach means greater choice and the opportunity to consolidate their own product purchasing, saving time and money through simplifying the order process. A new tool to aid this process is TFC's new online ring and spring part search facility, which can be found here.

The new search facility catalogues over 4000 products, making it easy to find the part you need quickly. The simplified search tool breaks down searching into bore and shaft parameters for both rings and springs. TFC's website pulls together both standard and technical products with its ability to provide a single source supply chain management system for customers. The combination of TFC's deep-seated knowledge of products and industry, offer customers the level of trust and support needed in business. Over 40 years of experience, coupled with innovative supply chain and logistical resources have placed TFC as one of the UK and Europe's leading fixing and fastener suppliers serving industry today.

Industry applications for TFC products are immense with the company working successfully for many years supplying components to aerospace, the oil industry, automobile industry, manufacturing as well as building and construction. Many of these components such as the Smalley Wave Spring or Crest to Crest Wave Spring fill a void in industry especially where a traditional coil spring has too large a footprint to function at its optimum efficiency.

Though there have been many refinements to the traditional coiled spring, an advance in recent years has been the introduction of the Crest to Crest Wave Spring. Tooled using a single flat wire process, the Crest to Crest Wave Spring offers a significant reduction in axial and radial space.

Industries such as automotive, aerospace, petro-chemical, and manufacturing in general have seen the development of many products that have resulted in a reduced footprint of many of the spring components. Recent developments have seen single Crest to Crest Wave Springs replacing an arrangement of inline coil springs in applications that have benefited from size reduction, but the advantages don't end there.

With a single Crest to Crest Wave Spring used instead of a series of coil springs in any application (see illustration) the reduced spring rate enhances the life of the seal face because the load differential at maximum and minimum work heights is greatly reduced. Longer seal life is gained as a result of the Crest to Crest Wave Spring offering a greater travel, i.e. the difference between the work heights is greatly increased. The fact that we now have a single component offers more consistent parallel loading of the seal faces, leading to heightened compression.

In the old system the alignment of a series of coil springs often led to 'clogging' between the turns especially where the seal is being used in particularly harsh environments. This 'clogging' would lead to leakage when the seal is stationary. The use of a single Crest to Crest Wave Spring also brings the benefit of a reduction in tooling of the mating components; with pocketed coil springs there would be a need to drill numerous beds for each coil spring. This is obviously eliminated from a single crest spring placement. This also improves assembly times since only one component is involved.

Integrity in any mechanical system is paramount and if the integrity is compromised through ingress of dirt, sludge or other substances mechanical breakdown is inevitable, costly and time-consuming. TFC has products such as Smalley Laminar Sealing Rings to help overcome some of these issues. A Laminar Sealing Ring is a metallic labyrinth seal consisting of multiple rings in a groove, and is designed to prevent the ingress of dirt or splash liquid from contaminating components.

The arrangement of the Smalley Laminar Sealing Rings and the specific orientation of the rings are dictated by the application and severity of the environment. Since there is no friction with other rotating components, Smalley Laminar Sealing Rings are ideal for high speed applications. Smalley Laminar Sealing Rings are often used as a primary seal or as an alternative means of sealing components in assemblies from contamination. Smalley offers several sealing ring configurations to accomplish this. Since they are produced from metal (not rubber or neoprene), Smalley Laminar Sealing Rings can withstand higher temperatures, more corrosive environments and other extreme conditions than common O-Rings or conventional rubber seals.

Smalley Spirolox Retaining Rings and Snap Rings are other TFC products made from pre-tempered flat wire without the need of expensive tooling, by edge coiling - which means unlike conventional circlips, special designs can be easily accommodated and design changes can be made without additional cost. Smalley Spirolox Retaining Rings and Snap Rings are coiled to the exact diameter required. Smalley Spirolox rings have a uniform cross section, no protruding lugs and are burr free, they offer a 360° retaining surface and are directly interchangeable with standard imperial and metric circlip grooves. Smalley edge coiled retaining rings can be coiled to specification in any diameter between 5mm-2300mm.

Design engineers commonly associate the word 'retaining ring' to a basic style or type of retention device. In reality, retaining ring styles are nearly as diverse as their applications. Smalley retaining rings offer an alternative and in many instances an advantage over the more common retraining rings available on the market today.

TFC Group

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