The humble bolt is responsible for keeping most machinery together. Which is why bolt fastening is such a key part of many a manufacturing process. The ongoing challenge for manufacturers, however, is that the task of bolt fastening poses a significant occupational health and safety (OH&S) risk to employees.
According to industry expert John Bishop, it’s only a matter of time before a person gets an injury if their job involves the repeated fastening of bolts with a standard power tool.
“When you’re tightening a bolt up with a standard power tool you’ll get a reaction every time. When it suddenly comes to a stop, it jerks your arm,” explains the Product Manager for Power Tools with CAPS Australia. “If you do that 200-300 times a day, you will eventually get an injury from that excessive, repetitive movement. It might be months down the track, but it will happen.”
This specific OH&S challenge has affected many of John’s clients in the manufacturing sector – particularly in applications such as automotive manufacturing, where a high repetition of bolting is required on assembly lines. Fortunately, he can now give these customers a solution in the form of Ingersoll Rand’s QX Series Torque Tools.
Relatively new to the Australian market, the transducerised QX Series torque tools employ advanced technology, communication and control features to ensure accurate, repeatable bolting for industrial applications. The tools are available through CAPS Australia in different combinations of torque, ranging from 7 in-lbs/0.8Nm to 1,475 foot-pounds (2000 Nm).
“This revolutionary tool range has been specifically designed for high-repetition bolting and keeping reaction movements low,” enthuses John. “Every customer who has seen the QX tools or used them has honestly been flabbergasted by just how good they are and the benefits they bring, the main one being safety.”
Importantly, Ingersoll Rand also launched their Ergonomic Tightening System (ETS) with the QX Series product range. ETS reduces torque reaction with an ergonomically-enhanced motor control algorithm. And when tightening, it delivers short bursts of energy into the fastener, enabling the operator to stay safely in control of the tool.
“This new ETS system is designed to reduce the reaction users get through arms,” explains John. “Having smaller reaction movements enables the operators to stay in control and significantly reduces the risk of injury. These ETS products are very safe and at CAPS Australia we recommend them to all manufacturing operations where bolt fastening is involved.”
Besides safety, John says the other core challenge manufacturers face is compliance. The QX tools address this too by design. At the heart of each tool is the closed-loop transducer, which delivers torque precision, unmatched accuracy and traceable results.
“In the manufacturing process there are certain standards and engineering designs that have to be met – consistently,” John explains. “If a bolt is tightened by hand, there is no consistency because each individual will do it up differently. The same with an impact wrench, how it is done will depend on how much battery power is used. Whereas the QX series tools are designed to be programmed and to stop at a predetermined torque.”
Compared to manual and imprecise alternatives, this tool has multiple user-programmable configurations such as torque, angle, prevailing torque and gang count. And the electronic transducer is programmable to 0.001 of a Newton meter.
“From a manufacturers’ point of view – and there are multiple features with these tools – they can get up to eight different strategies. Effectively, one tool can replace eight different tools,” says John. “The multi-function display also provides visual feedback via red, yellow and green lights, signalling whether the bolt has exceeded, or not met, the torque limit or angle, or if the proper gang count was reached. A manufacturer will benefit immediately from this with improved efficiency and the ability for employees to hit nuts in faster sequence on the assembly line.”
Additionally, the QX series has a recording function that can store up to 1,200 cycles of information and includes Bluetooth, meaning information can be downloaded to a router or server.
“This is a really valuable feature. In the example of a car manufacturing or automobile environment, a record needs to be kept of every bolt that’s been done up on these vehicles and kept against the VIN number,” explains John. “So if there is a future event such as a fault with the vehicle, the manufacturer will pull up the data report on that vehicle to see every bolt that’s been manufactured or tightened on it.”
Moreover, operators can move freely because the QX Tools are cordless and compact. These features allow maximum flexibility when working on multiple joints and accessing odd angles.
When it comes down to it though, John concludes that safety is more important than compliance, and that every business has to be accountable for their staff and ensure a safe working environment.
“And this is the message we’re hearing loud and clear, that safety comes first. Fortunately, we have a tool that reduces injury and improves processes, so much so that these improvements will mitigate other risks too.”
Among the satisfied clients that CAPS Australia has serviced with this tool series includes IVECO Australia. To see how their Ingersoll Rand QX Series Cordless Torque Multipliers are improving efficiency, safety and productivity on the truck assembly line, you can watch the video here.
For more information about this product range, readers can enquire directly with CAPS Australia – Australia’s largest independent compressed air and power generation provider – by visiting www.caps.com.au