Brand Equivalent Case Study: Achieving faster delivery & lower costs using functional equivalents

October 9, 2018

Here at MF Supply we spend a lot of time sourcing hard to find, back-ordered or out of stock OEM hardware brands for our customers. Much like brand-name pharmaceuticals such as Tylenol and Advil are available generically (as acetaminophen and ibuprofen), some brand name fasteners are also available as “generics,” “crosses,” “alternatives” or “functional equivalents.”  In the world of fasteners, a functional equivalent fastener is a part that is the same as the brand-name product in form, fit and function, including material and plating specifications.  Using equivalents and alternatives to OEM brand names can be a smart way to reduce long lead times and/or cut expenses.

Check out this Case Study where an OEM brand was substituted with a functional equivalent, reducing costs by 59% and shaving lead time by over 20 weeks.  This time and money savings gave the manufacturer an advantage over their competition, which helped them win the job.

Smart Manufacturers use equivalents to shorten delivery times and win business


A Tier 3 aerospace manufacturer of subassemblies is bidding on a job for a large international Aircraft OEM where the bill of materials calls for 172 pieces of a 1/4-28 x 1/2-20 Floating Key-Locking Insert in A286 stainless steel with a Fairchild/Alcoa Keensert® part number KNKDL428JT.  As the part is in nonstock status at Alcoa, the delivery time is 28-29 weeks (yes that is half of one year which can be standard for aerospace related and mil-spec parts).  Here is the dilemma – based on this delivery schedule, the manufacturer cannot meet their prospective client’s two month delivery requirement.


MF Supply gets a print of the part and is able to cross it to an exact functional equivalent for an alternative brand we distribute.  Our factory can manufacturer and deliver the part in 4-5 weeks at 1/2 the cost of the OEM brand fastener.  The alternative parts will be manufactured with full lot traceability and manufacturer’s test reports, a certificate of conformance and a DFARS statement.  The client (Aircraft OEM) approves the substitution and awards the manufacturer the business based on their ability to make the 2 month delivery requirement.  A Purchase Order for the Floating Key-Locking Insert is issued to MF Supply.  As promised, within 5 weeks, the complete 172 inserts, with full paperwork, are delivered to the manufacturer.  The subassemblies are produced and delivered to the end client on time and underbudget.


-MF Supply functional equivalent fasteners shorten delivery time from 28-29 weeks to 5 weeks.


-KNKDL428JT price = $200 each.  Total cost $34,400.
-MF equivalent price = $82.00 each. Total cost $14,104.


-Cost savings of $20,296 or 59% (not a typo!).
– Tier 3 aerospace manufacturer wins bid and is awarded job.
-Work is completed on time.
-Job is more profitable due to cost savings realized on inserts.
-Job has been a repeater and a money maker for Tier 3 aerospace manufacturer.

In summary, if your bill of materials calls for an OEM brand fastener or component, find out if you must have the brand name product.  In cases where a generic or equivalent alternative part will work, there might be an opportunity to save money and shorten delivery time.

How can I determine if I must use the brand name or if I can cross to a generic part?

Before you shop, check the bill of materials to see if it specifically calls out a particular brand name along with the part number. If no specific manufacturer’s name is listed, then you can typically use a  generic alternative or equivalent product?.  For more complete info, check out our July 27 blog for your 4 point checklist on determining if functional equivalents will work for your business.

For more information about MF Supply contact:

Robin Lieberman, President

Happy Manufacturing Day 2018!

Manufacturing Day® is a national celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers and occurs annually on the first Friday in October.

MF Supply was proud to be a Blue level sponsor of New Jersey Manufacturing Day, organized by the NJMEP,  which brought together manufacturers, students, supporters, government representatives and industry expert speakers at the Marigold in Somerset from 7:30A-2:30p today, October 5th.

We attended 2 breakout sessions:  The first session “Driving Industry Growth through Innovative Technology, Education and Government Support” featured private and public sector experts who discussed their approach to problem solving a myriad of business issues and red tape.  I met the Executive Director of the NJ Business Action Center, Melanie Willoughby who is known as “The Fixer”.  She told us how she helped a NJ manufacturer get a special crosswalk built on a state road so their workers could walk directly from their plant to the deli across the street.  It’s the little things that count!

The second session “Women in Manufacturing Roundtable Discussion” featured three powerhouse women representing the food, machine shop and clothing/sewing manufacturing industries.  It was inspiring to hear how these three women are growing their businesses in the male dominated manufacturing space.  Perhaps the coolest story was told by panelist Tom Bergeron, the Editor of ROI-NJ.   He introduced us to the camp Tools and Tiaras, where this part summer, his daughter learned how to solder and build from industry experts in the housing and building industries. Resources for women are expanding and the the future for Women in Manufacturing looks very bright!

Other breakout sessions included:

  • Tariffs – How to Apply For Exclusions
  • Emerging Topics in Food Safety
  • Tips for Recruiting, Retaining And Linking into Underutilized Talent Pools
  • 2018 Tax Reform – How to Make The Changes Work In Your Favor

Check out the manufacturing day activities and Manufacturing Award winner announcements in your neck of the woods by visiting your state’s Manufacturing Extension Program wesbite or the Manufacturing Day website for more info.

For more information about MF Supply contact:

Robin Lieberman, President