Ralf Mai of DISC-LOCK Europa GmbH talks to Vibrationmaster

From Vibrationmaster October 2011 newsletter.

We were recently delighted to hear from Ralf Mai, General Manager at DISC-LOCK Europa GmbH that he is keen to test his company’s products on the Vibrationmaster J600 Junker Test Bench. In advance of Ralf putting the J600 through its paces, we spoke to him about Vibrationmaster, the new DIN standard and the challenges DISC-LOCK and the industry face.

Could you give us a little background on DISC-LOCK Europa?

DISC-LOCK Europa GmbH is located in Ellwangen, in the south of Germany, and is responsible for the German, Italian and Austrian markets for DISC-LOCK products. DISC-LOCK itself is American. All DISC-LOCK products are self locking fasteners that prevent loosening caused by shock or vibration in high-stress applications. DISC-LOCK Europa GmbH can provide you with the following products: DISC-LOCK washers, locking nuts and safety wheel nuts.

What is your role at DISC-LOCK?

DISC-LOCK Europa GmbH is a relatively new company in Germany, so we’re still quite small. I’m the general manager, so I’m involved with both the sales and marketing and technical side of things.

How important is the German DIN standard to you and your customers?

It depends on the industry our customers are in. I would say that around 70% know nothing about DIN 25201. Dealers and customers with a special department for tightening products will know about it. The railway industry knows all about DIN 25201, because the standard was first created for them. And, of course, Germany only uses the DIN standard, so it is important to meet the regulations.

What do you currently do to meet the standard?

Up until now we have not manufactured any products in Germany, so we have not needed to meet the standard. Most of our products are well established, and the American company that we’re part of will have done tests themselves according to US quality assurance standards. Also, DISC-LOCK washers have been on the market for more than 29 years, the nuts around 18 years. So we know our products work well.

So, why do you think the new DIN standard is important now?

It’s becoming more and more important to set ourselves apart from the competition, and adhering to DIN 25201will help us do this now and in the future.

What’s your perception of Vibrationmaster?

I was delighted to discover a company offering tests and selling machines. Vibrationmaster is in a really good position. I see you as occupying a very valuable niche.

What excites you about Vibrationmaster’s Junker Test Machines?

I haven’t seen a live test yet by an independent company – I’m really looking forward to it, of course. But, to me, having a machine where you’re able to adjust everything automatically during the test means you can make tests in a shorter time than competitors. Also, you find out the advantages and disadvantages of a product immediately, so you can decide to bring it to market or not much more quickly. Therefore, you’re able to seize the competitive advantage fast. Obviously, having your own machine means you save the money it costs to pay for expensive independent tests.

Specifically, what do you think about the opportunity to test from M5 to M30?

It adds up to an unbelievably big opportunity, I’d say – as big as the total fastener and fixing industry. It means you can make tests for the electronic industry, which uses M5, and people like the earthmoving industry with their M30 nuts. And, as far as I know, the earthmoving industry doesn’t pay much attention to the new DIN at the moment.

How do you think working with Vibrationmaster can benefit DISC-LOCK?

Being able to prove to your customers that you’ve had tests carried out independently, instead of in-house, is great for inspiring confidence in customers. And, if people become more aware of the DIN test, adhering to the standard is sure to become essential.

How do you think working with Vibrationmaster can benefit your customers?

For customers who want to test a specific bolt or application – or even test DISC-LOCK products themselves – being able to go to Vibrationmaster for a test or use their own machine is a great advantage. They can see themselves what really happens to their and our products under vibration.

And the fastener industry in general?

For people like us, and laboratories offering tests, being able to purchase an affordable machine, with no fuss, gives much more freedom and saves money and time. It could really open up the market.

Excellent! Thanks for your time, Ralf.

Thank you.