Production line are busy places to be and tools need to be powerful, efficient and easy to use to keep up with the fast pace and intensive demands. We look at some of the production line tools hitting the market.
Atlas Copco – TorcFlex™
From the advent of the wind industry, hydraulic torque applications have been paramount in delivering the high levels of torque required to ensure the structural integrity of the tower, nacelle and blades. More recently, construction firms have been reducing the number of hydraulic wrenches being used, in favour of electric and battery-operated torque tooling, primarily due to cost, speed and ease of use.
However, with the latest offshore wind turbines being much larger, capable of generating up to 14MW of power each, much bigger bolts and higher torque values are necessary, so the need for hydraulic torque equipment has returned to the fore. With safety, performance, ease of maintenance, quality and cost-efficiency being key drivers for turbine operators, Atlas Copco, a world leader in continuous rotation tooling, has invested significantly in the development of its hydraulic wrench offering.
According to research by the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers in 2021, 35% of injuries sustained were caused by tool handling incidents or dropped objects. Over 80% of these were in environments where hydraulic torque was used.
Innovation within the hydraulic torque market has been limited. But challenging the status quo through customer driven innovation, Atlas Copco has launched a brand-new hydraulic torque wrench line, called TorcFlex™. Designed specifically to provide greater value in terms of ergonomic safety, accuracy, performance and cost-efficiency for multiple industry applications, TorcFlex™ models include the TF Square Drive Tool and TFX Direct Fit Tool. These are complemented by a market-first Co-Axial single hose and coupling, that’s over four times faster in set-up than previous generations, with better manoeuvrability and zero risk of hose tangling with free moving couplings.
Capable of delivering torque levels over 43,000Nm on the Direct Fit Tool and 35,000Nm on the Square Drive Tool, TorcFlex™ addresses both assembly and maintenance demands of major turbines, maintaining a tool accuracy of 3%, whilst focusing on the user’s experience and prioritising safety.
One of the most innovative features is the retained reaction arm. Other available wrenches have a reaction arm that needs to be fully disengaged before being repositioned on the application. This is time consuming but also a dangerous drop hazard. Working at height is an obvious risk, so having a retained reaction arm that can be easily transferred increases safety for everyone.
TorcFlex™ also features an integral square drive retainer. Instead of a separate drive retainer, which must be removed and re-engaged when changing direction, Atlas Copco’s square drive assembly is now a single piece with a spring-loaded button mechanism, which allows the user to change direction easily.
All hydraulic wrenches are also supplied with a new innovative support handle. The handle can first be positioned in multiple positions on the wrench, but then the head can be indexed by the operator, without it being removed, like all other designs. As it’s supplied as standard and not an accessory, safety is again being prioritised.
To find out more about Atlas Copco’s safer, quicker and smarter high torque applications for the wind energy sector, visit www.atlascopco.com/en-uk/itba/industry-solutions/energy/wind-energy
Owlett-Jaton – JRP Battery Rivet Gun
The JRP battery rivet gun tooling is made for performance as it’s not only the lightest on the market but also offers the highest power-to-weight ratio.
In the last five years, the battery rivet gun tool market has seen considerable growth in the production line sector. Manufacturers are consistently looking for new technology that is fast and reliable to help improve efficiencies. When developing their riveting brand Jaton Riveting Products (JRP), Owlett-Jaton carried out months of rigorous testing in the UK to identify the best type of tooling to offer alongside their extensive range of rivets and rivet nuts.
Hand tools are small and easy to move around, but installation can be slow, and their use is limited when used repetitively in a production process due to labour impacts. Pneumatic tooling lacks portability and requires considerable investment. Dragging air hoses through manufacturing plants is cumbersome, and extensive maintenance is essential for stability of position and control of speed. While both hand tools and pneumatic tooling will continue to have a part to play in production, it's easy to see why battery tooling is growing in popularity in production line assembly.
Initially, a small range of JRP hand tools was launched, aimed at smaller-scale installers. To complement the hand tools, four battery tools were launched soon after. Tested by experienced window fitters, roofing and cladding contractors, automotive/rail metal fabricators and light/heavy commercial vehicle builders, the feedback received included the ease of use, speed of use and lightness.
The ergonomic tool and battery design result in a fantastic weight-saving combination. The four battery tools are not only the lightest rivet gun tooling but also some of the most compact power-to-weight ratio tools to be introduced to the marketplace. JRP’s most popular rivet gun, the RB65, weighs a whopping 33% less than its competitor equivalent. The NB80A is a considerable 37% lighter than its like-for-like equivalent.
Fast and reliable, the JRP battery tooling range can help to speed up production in multiple industry sectors. Their portability makes them ideal for use on internal or external components in production line assemblies. The LED display settings on the tools allow manufacturers to set a tool up accordingly for the applications and thread diameters they are to be used on, that way they can ensure the tools are used correctly and optimise battery and shelf life. The uniform battery system for the JRP range allows the batteries to be used on all tool models, prolonging battery life and reducing recharge costs and tooling inventory.
The tools are powered by an 18V 2.0Ah Li-ion battery designed to give higher performance and increased runtimes of almost 120 minutes, depending on the tool model and fasteners being set. Unlike comparative tools on the market, JRP’s tools come with two batteries. With a recharge time of less than 30 minutes, manufacturers can rely on the tools for continuous use without purchasing additional inventory.
Everwin Pneumatic – Tool Guide for Manufactured Housing
Manufactured housing provides a solution to problems of affordable and quality accommodations. The demand for prefabricated homes has increased because it offers a lower carbon-print on the environment in light of rapid population growth. Everwin Pneumatic offers a full tool recommendation guide to equip the most efficient nailers and staplers to these busy production lines. Everwin tools are uniquely engineered for high volume industrial applications. Whether a manual production line or an automated assembly line with machine-mounted operations, Everwin provides a solution at every stage of the manufactured construction process.
The first stage of manufactured housing is framing assembly. This sees that the lumber is secured on the joists and also that OSB or plywood is securely fitted to the frames. Whether a line uses a gantry or manually, it requires a heavy duty framing nailer. This can be a FSN34100-LM, a framing stick nailer with an extended magazine, open nose design, and single-piece caste cap assembly that prolongs tool lifespan and minimise maintenance downtime. Another option can be a PN80/90 PAL machine-mounted coil nailer. Bolstering a high flow driver guide, remote control valve, and a jumbo magazine holding fasteners dependent on the users’ need. It is designed for powerful high volume repetitive use.
The second stage will see insulation layers fitted as well as exterior sheathing secured. The FSN9240BC, an 18 gauge cap stapler ensures that more surface area is held in place. Featuring a bypass rapid-loader cap magazine, a steel back cover, and an industrial tool free jam clearance. It ensures that these extra layers of air control will keep temperatures constant.
For further sheathing and plasterboard, the SN50 series heavy wire staplers is offered in multiple variations specific for a production line’s need. Designed with a long magazine kit to hold 480 fasteners, or a machine-mounted version equipped with RCVA1 or RCVA2 remote control trigger valves, or even a full automatic version driving up to 20 staplers per second. The result is more loading capacity and less downtime on a production line.
For window press installation, the FN1850 brad nailer is engineered with a robust construction for the industrial environment. An aluminium extruded side-load magazine with a composite rear cover, as well featuring an industrial tool free jam clearance. The hybrid safety allows precision nail placement and a no-mar pad which is 30% more compact than other models in its class. The result is a clean finish on intricate trim work.
While the manufacturing housing market has been predicted to grow, it requires an efficient production line to keep up. Everwin offers the industrial grade tools to keep up with the users demand and provides a solution guide that keep up with innovation.
Panasonic – AccuPulse 4.0™
Panasonic’s next-generation transducerized mechanical pulse tool, the AccuPulse 4.0, was designed to help manufacturers improve quality control and accuracy, increase energy efficiency and safety, and collect data on the assembly line while reducing costs.
Built with four onboard microcomputers and a transducer to intelligently manage torque, motor control and wireless communication, the ultimate lightweight and high torque AccuPulse 4.0 meets the needs of manufacturers for an Industry 4.0-compatible assembly solution. As an energy-efficient and eco-friendly tool, the AccuPulse 4.0 reduces annual maintenance costs compared to competing pulse tools.
"Panasonic's AccuPulse line of cordless mechanical pulse tools was specifically designed with worker safety in mind, to allow for freedom of movement and flexibility, and greater production efficiency in a compact, high quality solution," said Aziz Lokhandwala, Senior Product Manager for assembly tools at Panasonic Eco Systems North America. "With the AccuPulse 4.0, we have enhanced features and expanded the benefits to provide one of the most advanced cordless mechanical pulse tools in industries where high torque precision fastening is required, including but not limited to automotive, aviation, farming and construction equipment. The built-in intelligence and advanced programming of the AccuPulse 4.0 will allow the quality engineer to monitor and control performance on site and remotely. The reactionless ergonomics and durability of the tool will foster a healthier and safer work environment."
For more on Production Line Tools, see our feature in the November 2022 edition of Torque.