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 Small Fasteners, Big Advantages

Small Fasteners, Big Advantages

Top construction companies and drywall contractors understand that investing in the right fasteners and tools can impact job profitability.

Drywall hangers and finishers pride themselves on the details: sharp corners, effortless curves, seamless interior expanses. Top construction companies and drywall contractors understand that the little things make a big difference in their overall costs as they invest in quality fasteners and quality tools to ensure the job gets done faster, and with superior results.

While forecasts for the construction market are strong, the pressures for the construction industry segment are real. Finding enough labor to fulfill contracts is tough. You’re likely paying more to attract and keep your crews—let alone find experienced installers. And the price of gypsum and finishing products are leading the way in material cost increases.

Together, these economic realities add up to tighter margins that increase the temptation to scrimp on material costs. However, as top construction companies and drywall contractors understand, investing in the right fasteners and tools can impact job profitability.

This article explores three ways fasteners and tools alone affect profitability:

  • Less waste
  • Better productivity
  • Fewer unnecessary tasks and costs

Quality Fasteners Lead to Less Waste

It may seem easy to gravitate to the least expensive screws to help bring down a bid and win a job. But in reality, commodity fasteners may actually cost more in the end.

Consider fastener waste. Spinouts and fastener heads that pop off during installation seem to be an accepted part of hanging drywall. When you get a bad fastener, you toss it and put in a new one. The unit cost is very small but you’re tossing away profits little by little.

An issue is knowing why fasteners fail. A popped head is likely the result of uneven heat treatment during manufacturing. Conversely, fasteners that twist or bend during installation were not properly heat treated. Often, you’ll get both in the same box with commodity fasteners.

Why? It’s a matter of manufacturing cost and quality control. Screws require consistent heat treatment: too much heat and the metal becomes brittle; too little and its poorly head treated and soft. While industry standards specify temperature for heat treatment, commodity manufacturers cut costs by heat treating as many fasteners as possible in one batch. This results in uneven treatment throughout the batch and more screws that will fail.

Professional fastener manufacturers limit their batch size to ensure consistent heat treatment. Smaller batches during heat treatment means more consistent screws and fewer failures. And more usable screws means you’re getting the performance you need.

The dies and punches used in manufacturing reveal another quality difference. The longer a die or punch remains in service, the more it wears down. This results in dull screw threads, railroading, and loose driver recesses. Both of these factors significantly affect screw performance, a topic we’ll discuss next.

While box information does not generally include detailed manufacturing information, you can check a manufacturer’s website for production specifications.

What you should look for:

  • Wire (Professional-grade fasteners are made with a superior-grade SAE 1022 wire)
  • Heat treatment loads (lower is better)
  • Head punch life (lower is better)
  • Thread die life (lower is better)
  • Industry standards certifications (ISO 9002, ISO 14001, ICC Evaluation Service Reports, adherence to ASTM and ASME standards)

Quality Fasteners Improve Installer Productivity

Think about how long it takes to drive a screw. A second or two, right? The difference between a second—or two seconds—is quite striking.

After all, you’re paying workers on an hourly basis. You want them to be as productive as possible. The more fasteners they can drive an hour, the more efficient and profitable the job can be.

If you break down the numbers this way, drive time for fasteners becomes very consequential. Look at it mathematically:

Drive time per screw (in secs) x Number of Fasteners / 60 = Active drive time per box (in mins)
Drive time per box / Hourly wage = Labor cost per box

Now compare a commodity screw (drive time 3.17 seconds) to a specialty professional screw (drive time 0.43 seconds). We’ll use a standard 8,000 screws per box and the industry wage average of $29 an hour.

Drive time per screw (in secs) x Number of Fasteners / 60 = Active drive time per box (in mins)
Commodity: 3.17 secs x 8,000 / 60 = 423 minutes or 7.04 hours
Professional: 0.43 secs x 8,000 / 60 = 58 minutes or .95 hours

Drive time per box / Hourly wage = Labor cost per box
Commodity: 7.04 hours x $29 = $204 labor cost
Professional: .95 hours x $29 = $27 labor cost

So what’s the difference between the commodity fastener and the specialty professional screw? A close comparison reveals significant differences in screw design. Let’s take a look at two drywall screws.

The difference in fastener tip angle and sharpness are readily apparent. The professional screw features a super-sharp point, and the steep angle of the shaft allows the fastener to penetrate secure to wood and metal framing significantly faster. By touch, the screw threads are perceptibly sharper and cleaner than those on the commodity screw (see manufacturing comparisons in the previous section).

Less obvious are the differences in the screw head. The professional screw has a tighter recess which leads to better bit engagement, less wobbling, and fewer cam-outs. The double bugle head design reduces paper burrs as the head seats into drywall.

What you should look for:

  • Sharpness of fastener tip for faster penetration
  • Sharpness of fastener threads for faster and more secure penetration
  • Screw recess with tighter fit for fewer cam-outs
  • Double bugle head design to eliminate paper burrs

Quality Fasteners and Tools Reduce Unnecessary Tasks and Costs

Fastener quality not only impacts drive time, it also affects time invested between driving screws. For example, fasteners with consistently tight head recesses experience fewer cam-outs. Workers fumble less with loose screws. Seasoned pros don’t want to deal with poor quality screws and small advantages like this help rookie installers come up to speed faster.

Professional fasteners also take into account what comes after the drywall is hung. Commodity fasteners often leave small paper burrs or flags around the screw head. Paper burrs and flagging require additional labor to remove and more mud to finish over them. High-quality professional fasteners are designed to seat cleanly into drywall which leads to less finishing and material costs. Again, the right fastener pays off.

This philosophy of efficiency translates into tools as well. Every drywall professional relies on a dependable screw gun. However, a collated screw gun may be the ideal tool to get the job done quickly, especially fastening in the field and that can mean one more tool to purchase and maintain.

An alternative to two screw guns is a collated head that can snap onto the screw gun you already own. The N7 Series, for instance, converts a DeWalt, Makita, or Grabber Rocker screw gun into a dual-purpose tool. By snapping onto the screw gun, the attachment switches to collated functionality. This allows workers to drive more screws consecutively with significantly less reloading time.

Selecting professional tools like a snap-on collation system reduces your capital investment while still maintaining or even increasing job productivity.

Conclusion

Fasteners are a seemingly small line item on a job estimate but choosing professional grade over commodity screws can really pay off. Investing a little more up front can result in significantly less material waste, greater worker productivity, and fewer tasks that run up labor costs. Contractors who want to stay competitive in coming years will pay attention to the little things and find themselves at a big advantage.

via: https://www.wconline.com/articles/92037-small-fasteners-big-advantages