Flat-pack furniture of the type famously exported by Scandinavia offers effective lessons about the importance of assembly line ergonomics. Assembling the furniture doesn’t seem like a difficult task, especially if you have power tools of your own along with the small disposable screwdrivers and hex keys that come with the furniture. However, once you have it assembled, you may find your hands hurting from holding the screw gun, your shoulder twinging from holding a power tool out, and your back aching from bending over. You may have a few screws that protrude and are too stripped out to be driven in and some left-over screws that you only hope were included as extras.
The furniture itself is very much like what is put together on the assembly line. It is made from engineered pieces cut by machines, and all that remains for you to do is to put it together. The end product is the result of the ad-hoc assembly process it was put together with, and the nagging aches are the result of ignoring basic ergonomics. If they are ignored on your company’s manufacturing room floor, the results will be employee injuries and an unreliable, substandard product. Assembling reliable products, therefore, requires on-spec fastening with quality tools at workstations that are comfortable to work at for long periods of time.
The Importance of Quality Torque Tools and Aids on the Assembly Line
Torque is the force that determines whether screws, bolts, and other fasteners hold together. It is a specific measure of rotational force determined by multiplying the force applied by its distance from the application point. If too much torque is applied, then the components being held together may become deformed, cracked, or broken. The fastener itself can be stripped or sheared through, too. Alternatively, if there is too little torque applied, then vibrations or daily use can cause fasteners to come loose. Reliable products depend on being tightened to exactly the required torque specification. However, the repeated motions associated with tightening fasteners can take a physical toll on employees.
In order to prevent workplace injuries and ensure a quality product, you will need to consider assembly line ergonomics. Ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. However, it is more generally understood to mean laying out workstations—whether they are in the office or on the manufacturing floor—to allow for movements that are not only efficient but also comfortable and prevent injury. In an office workplace, this is a matter of considering tables, chairs, and monitors. On an assembly line, where components and torque tools are heavier and the movements are much greater in scope, it is a little more challenging. Stage-by-stage assembly line design requires production aids to improve ergonomics.
Improving Assembly Line Ergonomics With Torque Tools and Production Aids
If you find your arm is sore after assembling a piece of flat-pack furniture or that you misplace fasteners, then you should have a clear grasp of the challenges facing assembly line workers. Providing a workstation that has all the tools and components needed is an important first step in improving assembly line ergonomics. It is only a first step though.
Workstations for the assembly of light industrial components like electronics not only need torque screwdrivers to ensure that screws are fastened to spec but also devices like gliding torque arms and telescoping torque arms to take the weight of the tools off of employees while ensuring they maintain control of the tool. These also allow precise control of the angle and force that the bit in the torque tool meets the screw with, preventing stripped heads and cross-threading. Screw presenters position the fasteners needed for assembly one by one at a fixed pick-up point. They remove the need to grab a single fastener from a bin, saving time and further reducing the likelihood of misalignment. A screw counter can be used to ensure that all needed fasteners are used and that the assemblies are not moved farther along the production line if they’re missing screws.
Heavier industries that require more flexibility and speed than is possible with a fixed torque arm can improve their assembly line ergonomics with a tool balancer. These devices consist of a tool attached to a cord or hose while a pulley within provides tension that counterbalances the weight of the tool. It allows powered assembly tools like electric screwdrivers, air screwdrivers, and pulse tools to be wielded with a high degree of control over their angle and positioning, ensuring that fasteners are driven without cross-threading, stripping, or errors.
Producing quality products from an assembly line depends on the motivation and skills of your employees. Keeping them productive and pain-free is one of the major benefits of assembly line ergonomics. Reliable torque accessories are an important part of keeping your employees focused on their work instead of discomfort in their hands and shoulders. Quality torque tools that do the job precisely time after time and offer superior torque management are an important part of a productive assembly line.
Mountz Inc. knows how important precision and control of tools are on the assembly line. That’s why we make torque accessories like torque arms and balancers that offering superior control of torque wrenches and screwdrivers. To see our full range of products, shop our store. Contact us anytime to ask a question. To inquire about price, request a quote. If you’d like to see our equipment in person, schedule an appointment.