Without the right assembly tools, you don’t have a production line. It’s the tools, after all, that allow your workers to assemble the pieces into a product. That doesn’t mean that finding the right tools is easy, though; each product is different, each factory is different, and there are hundreds of different tool options. How do you know which ones will be the best for your company’s individual needs?
Searching for information—on tools, on sports, on money—is as much of a skill as building, playing, or investing. Finding the right tools really comes down to knowing how to look. You’ll need to develop a list of possibilities, then narrow it down by weeding out options based on your priorities. To help you out, here’s a step-by-step guide to finding the right assembly tools for your production line.
Which Assembly Tools Are Right for Your Production Line?
The first step to finding the right set of assembly tools is defining what you need. What products are you building? What types of fasteners will hold them together? Are you producing many simple pieces or fewer but more complex ones?
Knowing your fastener type and production speed will help you dial in your search. First, find out how much torque each of your fasteners requires. If you’re using small fasteners, which typically require pound-inches or ounce-inches of torque, then you’ll be best suited with hand or electric tools. If your fasteners require pound-feet of torque, then you’ll need either hand or pneumatic tools.
Next, consider how quickly you need to assemble your products. If your operation produces pieces in bulk and each tool needs to fasten thousands of fasteners or more in a day, then you’ll probably need power tools, either electric or pneumatic. If your operation produces fewer, more specialty products and each tool must fasten dozens to hundreds of fasteners per day, then you may be better suited with hand tools.
After going through this quick diagnosis, you’ll be able to narrow in on the general category of tools which will be best for your production line. Now, you’ll need to find the right manufacturer.
Choosing the Right Tools Supplier for Your Assembly Line
Knowing the type of tools you need will allow you to start researching the different manufacturers which make them. To help you keep track of the available options, it’s a good idea to start a spreadsheet, giving each potential manufacturer their own column. This will give you a side-by-side comparison of what’s available. Fill in the rows with relevant information from each manufacturer to help you make your decision. This information can be quantitative, such as cost per tool, or qualitative, like notes on their reputation. Here’s a (fictitious) example:
Once you have each option listed, you’ll be able to make a reasonable comparison. Price is certainly an important consideration, but it’s not the only one, as other factors also affect a company’s bottom line. A reputation for poor quality can indicate a short working life for tools, meaning you’ll need to replace them more frequently. This can add up to a higher aggregate cost, even for cheaper tools. Similarly, a distant service center and long turn-around times can cost your operation money in unproductive downtime, as well as high shipping fees.
Finding the right assembly tools for your production line comes down to conducting an organized search. First, identify your needs and use that to narrow in on the class of tool you’re looking for. Once you know the tools you need, research the different manufacturers which make them. Compare these options side-by-side, thinking of both short-term issues like cost and long-term issues like availability of service. It’s okay to pay twice as much for a tool that lasts three times as long. Happy hunting!