Maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) is a market that historically has been reticent to change processes and adopt new practices. This is especially true when it comes to mechanical fasteners, and understandably so, as nuts and bolts have been relied upon for centuries to ensure the cogs of industry continue to turn safely, efficiently, and without breaking down.
While not all centuries old, MRO engineers now work and use mechanical fasteners across a vast cross section of industry, from general manufacturing and mining to food production, the automotive aftermarket, aerospace, and utilities. You’ll find MRO engineers wherever machinery, hydraulics, engines, turbines, and compressors are used and need to be maintained.
Across all industries, in addition to using mechanical fasteners, what MRO engineers have in common is that they now face increasing pressure to ensure that their practices are as sustainable as possible and in support of global, national, and regional climate-change targets.
The urgency of the sustainability agenda is therefore one key reason that the tide is now turning, and MRO engineers are more ready to consider alternative solutions to traditional methods. They’re looking for new ways to reduce their carbon footprint and to this end, engineering adhesives are increasingly being used in place of mechanical fastenings. While their use is not new in MRO, and indeed they provide benefits outside of sustainability, it is these adhesives’ “green credentials” that are helping to change mindsets and driving more widespread adoption.
Engineering Adhesives’ Sustainable Benefits
The most obvious sustainable benefit in using engineering adhesives over mechanical fastenings is that these adhesives reduce the number of tools and parts that are procured, transported, and stored. One adhesive solution can be used in place of hundreds of washers, reducing energy, resource, and fuel consumption in washer manufacturing and transporting as well as vastly decreasing storage requirements. In particular, Bostik’s Born2Bond™ team has calculated that one 50ml bottle of its anaerobic engineering adhesive will do the job of up to 800 M10 spring washers.
Additionally, applying engineering adhesives to nuts and bolts, gaskets, piping, and components performs the role of preventative maintenance and mitigates against failure, which lowers the need for new parts and also reduces downtime. MRO engineers look to avoid downtime not just for economic efficiency, but also because it can result in a number of unsustainable side effects, such as increased use of energy and resources.
Another important sustainable impact of utilizing engineering adhesives is that they reduce leaks through the increased reliability of adhesive bonding. Whether chemical, water, or gas, leaks result in wasted resources and reduced efficiency. Further, the materials used to clean spillages will often end up in landfills. In addition to sustainability benefits, workplace falls and slips are a considerable hazard in the workplace, so reducing liquid leaks is another way to further improve workplace safety.
Product ranges are regularly expanding as the sustainability demand grows across different territories. A case in point is Bostik's non-CLP classified range of anaerobic engineering adhesives that do not carry hazard labels. This allows them to enhance the safety and comfort of users while also reducing environmental impact. The range was launched in EMEA earlier in 2022 and will be launched in North America and other territories according to demand.
The demand for non-solvent-based adhesives is another significant development in the MRO market that engineering adhesives can address. Traditionally, engineers associated strong smells with strength; now, thankfully, more comfortable and indeed safer, more sustainable working environments are now more prioritized, giving rise to solvent-free and non-CLP classified ranges of adhesives. This also of course helps organisations to reduce their carbon footprint—a driving force across all industries.
Practical and Operational Benefits
Outside of sustainability, engineering adhesives are easy and fast to apply and are extremely versatile for different fastener sizes and application substrates. This increases operational efficiency and as such enables engineers’ time to be focused on other tasks. They provide long-term reliability, high corrosion and weather protection, and are resistant to heat and chemicals, meaning their use is highly beneficial within a vast array of challenging environments. They also prevent vibrational loosening—which is the leading cause of mechanical failure—and offer a significant practical and operational benefit.
The Right Type of Engineering Adhesives
Anaerobic engineering adhesives offer a single-component, easy-to-use, and convenient solution that cures at room temperature. These solutions also are non-solvent based, so kinder to the environment and the people who are using them than other options. They can be used across a variety of MRO applications, including:
Threadlocking: Adhesives are applied to nuts and bolts to prevent loosening, and corrosion, reducing failure and the need to tighten bolts and perform unexpected repairs.
Gasketing: Anaerobic adhesives replace the pre-cut gaskets designed to adjoin two surfaces of metal flanges, decreasing inventory and preventing leaks.
Pipe Sealing: Solutions are applied to gaps between threaded pipe connections and fittings, preventing fluids or gases from leaking.
Retaining: Anaerobic adhesives fill spaces between mechanical, cylindrical components for reliable assembly of bearings, hubs, and shafts, eliminating the risk of fretting corrosion.
Additionally, MRO engineers can use service products with anaerobic adhesives to prepare and clean surfaces before use and to remove adhesives when no longer required. Service products include cleaners, lubricants, adhesive and gasket removers, anti-seize compounds, and solutions such as Seez-Release, designed to loosen rusted, corroded, and seized parts.
Born2Bond instant and anaerobic adhesives now complement already available Never-Seez® anti-seize compounds, Bostik MRO epoxies, and glue sticks.
Where We’re Headed
With the extensive benefits described and wide-ranging products available, how are manufacturers helping to communicate the sustainable benefits of engineering adhesives? Increased training from adhesive manufacturers is one useful tool. Bostik uses real-life “use cases” to showcase the practicalities and benefits of use. In an industry where engineers are inherently practical, seeing is believing.
Overall, it is the sustainability agenda itself that is acting as a catalyst to accelerate the use of adhesives in MRO scenarios. It is likely, too, that their use and application will increase as their environmental benefits are further realized. However, sustainability is only one part of the equation. Adhesives are deserving of their place at the MRO table for their performance and reliability alone, even in the most challenging tasks.
Images courtesy of Bostik.