Setting up to tool an automotive plant can seem like a challenging process. There are many costs and requirements to consider and tight deadlines to meet on trim budgets. Thankfully, even though it can seem like a jungle, there is help to find along the way. Finding the right tools doesn’t mean you need to know everything about every manufacturing innovation on the market. In fact, there are only two basic steps to tooling an automotive manufacturing plant. First, make a list of the tools you’ll need, based on your product requirements. Next, find quality manufacturers to supply them.
The tricky part, of course, is the details. How do you know what tools you need, and how many? Who are the best manufacturers, and how does the buying process work? This short guide will lead you through the process.
Determining the Right Tool Set for Your Automotive Manufacturing Process
For fastening tools designed to tighten nuts, bolts, and screws, the major question to ask is, how much torque do I need? Different aspects of automotive manufacturing operate within different torque ranges, so the tools you’ll need depend on which automotive parts you intend to assemble. The torque ranges are:
- Light Assembly
- Small, precise fastening applications fall into this range, such as those found in automotive electronics assembly and the fastening of light plastic parts.
- Light-duty automotive torque ranges can be measured in lbf.in or oz.in, up to around ~5-7 lbf.ft. These amounts of torque can be applied precisely using electric or air tools.
- When manufacturing electronic components, be sure to choose tools which can prevent electrostatic discharge.
- Medium Assembly
- Medium automotive assembly applications—such as steering assembly construction, door, pedal, and gear controls, spark plug, oil drain plug, and valve cover bolt installation—require torque applications ranging up to ~75 lbf.ft.
- These assembly operations can be accomplished with powerful DC electric screwdriver and automation fastening systems at the low end, pneumatic tools at the mid-range, and pulse tools at the high end.
- Heavy Assembly
- The assembly of heavier automotive components, ranging from ~75 lbf.ft to ~330 lbf.ft, is accomplished with pulse tools.
- This torque range is capable of handling chassis, hub and axle bolts, door and frame components, engine compartment bolts, transmission mounts, transfer casings, and differentials.
Depending on the product mix you’ll be working on, you may need tools in any or all of these ranges. Your factory’s square footage and layout will ultimately decide how many production stations you can maintain, although other factors such as assembly flow, labor costs, part costs, and product demand may argue in favor of fewer tool stations. Also, depending on how swiftly your tool service plan allows you to repair out of commission tools, you may consider purchasing extra tools to decrease lost production time with quick replacements.
Finding a Quality Automotive Assembly Tools Manufacturer
Investing in a new line of tools for an automotive plant can tie up a lot of capital. These tools will form the backbone of your assembly process. As such, their performance will factor heavily in determining whether the capital you’ve outlayed will generate a significant return. It’s important to find tools with demonstrated effectiveness and longevity, capable of meeting your needs for speed and precision for years or decades. Tools require service and calibration to continue functioning properly, so it’s a good idea to find a manufacturer who can service their products as well.
It takes a little bit of research to find the right tool manufacturer for you. The first question to ask is, do they have tools which deliver the amount of torque I need? Once you’ve made a list of your options, the next step is to research their business and contact their representatives for pricing information. While the lowest price can be a compelling argument, it’s wise to weigh the price against the manufacturer’s reputation and evidence or testimony to the quality of their products. After all, even the cheapest tools get expensive when you need to buy them twice. When considering pricing, remember to take into account the cost and logistics of delivery, installation, and maintenance as well.
After that, the next step is easy. Place your order, install your tools, and start rolling automotive products off the line. Now, the only thing you need to worry about is keeping a factory running. Piece of cake!