Automakers and suppliers have set up a system to test possible replacements for nylon 12, which will speed development of parts using other materials and reduce the potential for auto production slowdowns.
More than 30 companies — representing every link in the resin supply chain as well as automakers — worked with the Automotive Industry Action Group to create interim guidelines that will provide a method to analyze and test other materials in place of nylon 12, AIAG said in a May 1 news release.
The guidelines, formally called the Design Validation Process and Report (DVP&R), lay out specific requirements for replacements in areas such as tensile strength and elongation, chemical resistance, fuel exposure and other critical performance issues.
Nylon 12 is used in fuel lines, connectors, tubes and other key components, but supplies were running short in the wake of a March 31 fatal fire at Evonik Industries AG's plant in Marl, Germany. The explosion destroyed the plant making the feedstock cyclododecatriene. The plant also supplied CDT to other nylon 12 makers.
Molders and resin makers have offered a variety of potential replacements, including other nylon materials and acetal and polyphenylene sulfide resins. But without a standard validation and testing system in place, approval of those replacements might have been delayed — which in turn could have affected automakers' assembly plants.
The interim guidelines approved through the AIAG work group should lower many of those hurdles and reduce the complexity of bringing new resins to the table.
Ford Motor Co. does not expect the nylon 12 shortage to affect its production, thanks to the efforts at AIAG and individual suppliers, said spokesman Todd Nissen.
“We don't expect any disruption,” Ford Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks said in an April 27 conference call with analysts and the media.
“We're pretty clean,” Shanks said. “That's largely due to the fact that we have alternative materials that we can use. There had been some materials the team had previously tested, but didn't use them at that time, so we had material already on the shelf that we could use.”
GM Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann said May 3 that GM has not had any problems related to nylon 12, and does not expect any production issues in the future.