Working with the rail sector 29 September 2017

Here we speak to Daniel Starbuck, director at Star Fasteners (UK) Ltd, about the challenges of working within the rail industry and what it takes to become a key partner for the railway vehicle and infrastructure sectors. 

What products and services can Star Fasteners provide the rail market and what are the main advantages of customer partnering with Star?

“Star Fasteners is a well-established leader in the global Huck® fastener distribution network. We are committed to supplying customers with the highest quality and most innovative fastener solutions on the market.

Huck fastening solutions are used in a wide range of industries, including aerospace, automotive and road transportation, bridge building, buildings and structures, defence and security, electronics and appliances, industrial equipment, marine, medical, oil and gas, as well as the rail market. 

We work with a variety of rail customers and we can offer a bespoke service to ensure that we deliver a complete solution. We offer technical advice and support from highly qualified and knowledgeable staff – who offer fastener recommendations for potential applications and also provide after sales support. We look to adopt an open and dynamic working partnership with our customers to deliver new products and services. This joint collaboration drives continuous improvement, profitability and growth.

Another important factor is being able to solve problems and suggest innovative fastening solutions. At Star Fasteners we have many years of technical knowledge and we are flexible enough to adapt fastening solutions to the needs of our customers. It is also vital that you offer a total supply solution. Thanks to our extensive Huck fastener and installation tool knowledge, we can minimise incompatibility issues, which is crucial to the reduction of costs and reduces production down-time.

A key service we can also deliver is in-house or on-site tool repairs and servicing, which helps keep production lines rolling and ensures fasteners are installed correctly. At Star Fasteners we stock a comprehensive range of new installation tools, as well as tooling spares, and we also offer a hire service.”

What are the main products and services Star Fasteners provides to the rail sector?

“Our range of Huck fasteners can be installed wherever there’s a requirement for structural strength and resistance to vibration and loosening, making them suitable for a wide range of tough engineering situations in the rail sector, as well as many other industries.

A fastener that is becoming increasingly popular in the European market is the BobTail® lockbolt. The BobTail has been designed to provide superior joining strength and offers fast and secure installation. Through its advanced fastener design, as well as easy-to-use installation tooling, the BobTail system offers a strong connection. One key advantage of this fastener over conventional lock bolting systems is that it doesn’t have a pintail to break off. As a result, there is no waste material to collect and dispose of post-installation. Plus there is an improvement in corrosion resistance by eliminating the exposed surface resulting from the pintail break. 

The installation system provides a smooth, shock-free process with significantly reduced maximum noise levels, typically less than 70dB. The elimination of the shock load and reduced noise can offer real and significant health and safety benefits. Declared by DIBt (Deutsches Institut für Bautechnik) as ‘maintenance free’, the 12mm, 14mm, 16mm, 20mm and 1 inch diameter BobTail is now approved to be used in both static and dynamic civil engineering applications.

As well as being the UK’s largest Huck fastener stockist, Star Fasteners is an accredited Huck tool service and repair department. Star’s expert technical knowledge and a large tool hire fleet complements the service. An important aspect of Star Fasteners quality promise is a well-stocked tool room.

To support this area of expanding operations there is a dedicated team of experienced engineers, fully trained to the relevant manufacturers’ recommendations on key brands such as Huck, Far and Marson. Star Fasteners has also developed a reputation for providing a personal and reliable service, incorporating nationwide collection and return. Once assessed, and the repair quotation has been accepted by a customer, the tools are broken down and hot-washed prior to re-sealing, this removes all previous contaminants and therefore ensures the longevity of the tool.

At Star Fasteners we are happy to advise on cost-effective, simple maintenance procedures to help prolong the production life of customers’ tooling systems. Once the tool has been received it is assessed and engraved with a unique serial number. This enables the team to provide a full service history. All quotations are free of charge and repairs are fully guaranteed and accredited to ISO 9001 standard certification.

In addition, Star Fasteners also offers on-site training programmes. These outline basic information to operators and maintenance department staff, with the aim of adhering to health and safety requirements, as well as ensuring that tools are suitable for the task in hand and fasteners are installed correctly.”

What recent rail applications has Star Fasteners been involved in?

“We provide regular tooling maintenance, and back-up tools in case of break down, for installing Huck fasteners to a rail company based in Derby. Also, we are currently quoting for a high-tech plating solution to deal with sensitive/dissimilar metals in a rail carriage build and refurbishment. 

A lot of the work that we get involved in is train and carriage refurbishment and repair. We hold a wide stock of fasteners commonly used in the rail industry. Customers often only need a small quantity of a particular fastener. We can react quickly to their requirements and also hire them a tool set up for that particular fastener. This assures the customer that the fastener is installed correctly with the approved installation tool.

We also supply a few rail refurbishment companies, who restore old classic locomotives. We have replaced old hot forged rivets with Huck C50LR fasteners and we also offer technical help and advice to select the most appropriate fixings.

Recently we have also experienced an increase in sales into the European rail industry.”

How have rail customers ordering patterns changed in recent years? How does Star Fasteners see the rail market developing in the future?

“Being able to react to opportunities in a timely manner has always been important, but in today’s market even faster responses are required. Thanks to our stock of an ever-wider variety of Huck technology, we are able to meet these demands with high-quality products.

The rail sector is notoriously feast or famine – but we can regulate this with our ordering systems, keeping back up stocks available. Adapting and offering tailored solutions to customers is also very important, as is a skilled and professional workforce. Another critical factor to the success in the railway industry is creating opportunities for increasing value for money.

Looking to the future, manufacturing will become faster, and more responsive to changing global markets. Products and processes will need to be sustainable with built-in reuse. The ability to recycle products reaching the end of their useful life will be a requirement, as well the need to recycle waste. Companies will be looking to use products that use less manufacturing energy and the skills of your workforce, and their experience, will be a critical factor in attaining a competitive advantage.

At Star Fasteners we will continue to help develop increasingly complex products for lightweight materials and designing fasteners that do more than just one job. We will always look for ways to innovate and take every opportunity to work with relevant partners.”


Will Lowry Editor t: +44 (0) 1727 814 509


Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 10 years has experienced every facet of the fastener sector - interviewing key figures within the industry and visiting leading companies and exhibitions around the globe.

Will manages the content strategy across all platforms and is the guardian for the high editorial standards that the Magazine is renowned.