Huron Automatic Screw Company has been producing a part used in the drivetrain of Class 8 heavy-duty trucks for many years. There was only one type of steel to be used for this part’s production. The allowed steel material contained lead, which improved machinability. Demand for the parts increased and resulted in decreased availability of the leaded material. Huron Automatic Screw Company took the initiative to address the issue; testing alternative materials and finding a cost savings for both the distributor and end user.

The Challenge

Huron Automatic Screw Company has been producing a part used in the drivetrain of Class 8 heavy-duty trucks for many years. There are two variations of this product. There is a specific type of steel (41L40) used to produce this part. The steel material 41L40 contains lead to improve machinability.

Demand of the parts began to increase, which coincided with decreased availability of the leaded 41L40 material. It was found that domestic suppliers were eliminating the manufacturing of materials containing lead and foreign suppliers were limiting its use, extending lead times to 4-6 months. Material sourcing became increasingly difficult, solidifying the 41L40 availability issue.

The Solution

Huron Automatic Screw Company hypothesized that specifications for the hex nut could be opened up to include other materials that are more readily available and at a lower cost. In their research, the team found that the original part specifications only required heat treatment to provide a certain hardness level. There were no mechanical property requirements. This opened up the possibility of using more readily available materials.

First, the customer was approached with material availability problem. While the customer was sensitive to the issue, they did not have the engineering expertise to suggest an alternative.

The team at Huron Automatic Screw Company used their knowledge and experience of materials and machining to source several new material options. At their own expense, the team purchased the alternative materials and proceeded to process test material parts.

The prospective new parts were submitted to the customer for review. Extensive information regarding the situation was provided for the customer to analyze. One of the options that Huron Automatic Screw Company proposed was available at a much lower price. This was chosen as a permanent new material for the part moving forward.


While Huron Automatic Screw Company could support increased demand of the part from a manufacturing standpoint, they were extremely challenged to find raw material. The team coordinated testing of new materials through multiple levels of communication.

In conclusion, this case study has set out to show Huron Automatic Screw Company’s ability to troubleshoot and solve machining issues. Their expertise allowed for a positive end result in the sourcing and testing of new materials. In this particular case, implementing a new material resulted in improved delivery of the part at a lower cost to the end user.


About Huron Automatic Screw Company

With over 85 years of experience, Huron Automatic Screw Company is highly regarded in the fastener manufacturing industry for product excellence and quick turnaround, making an ideal partner to handle prototype through production quantity jobs. Their precision machined threaded fasteners, pins, spacers and other parts are purchased by fastener distributors, component manufacturers and OEMs across the United States and go into a wide variety of components such as axles, power trains, suspensions, engines and steering components. The Huron Automatic Screw Company tradition of quality and use of innovative modern manufacturing practices have been the company’s competitive edge in manufacturing precision machined products.

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