A lot happens in a day at the factory. Noise levels rise and fall. Temperatures climb and plummet. Shifting vibrations rattle and roll through the building and everything in it. Workers come and go, some passing tools between them and using them with different amounts of force. Tools can drop, or get mucked, or misused. By the end of the day, a hand torque tool might not deliver the same results it did at the start. In industries where fastening quality matters for safety, productivity, or regulatory compliance, tools that slip out of calibration undetected can cause serious problems.
At the same time, work is busy and margins are tight. Schedules and budgets don’t allow manufacturers to send each tool to a calibration lab before it’s put to use every day. As such, the risk of product loss or failure due to miscalibration must be balanced against the cost, in both labor and equipment, of testing tools. To monitor calibration successfully, therefore, manufacturers need an accurate torque test that can be performed in seconds on the factory floor.
Monitoring Calibration Makes Business Sense
Every industry which relies on torque tools does so for the same reason: accuracy matters. Whether it’s in a satellite, a Chevy Silverado, or the heat exchanger of a nuclear submarine, a bolt or screw that is too loose could fall out. In some cases, this alone can be enough to cause a system failure. Even on systems with redundant safeguards, it can cause damage by increasing the stress on other parts of the system and raising the risk of failure. The loose fastener itself can also cause secondary damage if, for instance, it’s moving at high speed inside of an engine.
Tightening the bolt or screw as far as the tool, fastener, and assembly will allow is no remedy. Applying too much torque to a threaded fastener can strip the threads, warp, deform, or outright shear the shaft. Over-torqued bolts can fail either immediately or when exposed to stress on the road or in the operating room.
The simplest way to ensure a product’s bolts and screws receive the right amount of torque is to use tools which can detect and limit the amount of torque applied. These tools either inform their operator when it’s time to stop or physically prevent them from tightening anymore. In order to make sure the tool stops in the right place, tools must be tested regularly to ensure they maintain proper calibration. The longer a tool goes without testing, the greater the likelihood it will slip undetected and the more products it may be used on while out of calibration.
Simple Torque Testers Speed Up Routine Calibration Monitoring
In order for monitoring the accuracy of torque wrenches and screwdrivers to be practical, it has to be economical. The necessary equipment—torque sensors and torque testers—must be available at prices that allow for the realities of procurement budgets and weighed against the risk and potential cost of product loss or liability.
In manufacturing, time is money, and torque tool monitoring can’t take up so much time that it cuts into productivity. To estimate testing time, multiply the length of a single test by the number of tools to be tested, then divide by the number of manned testing stations. The longer testing takes, the more productivity suffers. Torque testers which can return simple, accurate go/no-go results in seconds allow tools to be tested with the greatest frequency. These simple results allow workers to test their own tools, saving even more time by reducing the amount of manpower dedicated to testing.
Finally, torque testers intended for daily use have to be economical in terms of space as well. This means they should fit onto benchtops or workstations on the factory floor itself without eliminating room for other important equipment. Calibration equipment which does not fit onto the factory floor may require workers to travel out of their way, adding time to the daily testing routine.
Companies which use torque tools without testing their calibration regularly risk fastening their screws and bolts incorrectly. Improperly torqued fasteners can fail in the field, potentially leading to serious liability and reputational damage. In order to maintain productivity and profitability while monitoring the calibration of their torque tools, manufacturers need small, fast, simple, and accurate torque testers their workers can use every day.