Which is better—a canoe or a raft? A canoe is certainly faster and easier to maneuver. That’s gotta be the best, right? Nothing beats fast. On the other hand, rafts are more stable than tippy canoes and are better equipped to carry cargo. So, the real answer is, the best boat for you depends on what you’re trying to do with it. The same logic applies to the different types of torque tools. Hand screwdrivers and electric screwdrivers are both useful, but the right type of screwdriver for your business depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.
Assessing the Production Needs of Your Business
Before you consider the different types of torque tools available, it’s best to take a close look at the needs of your assembly. Envision your process, then ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you fastening bolts or screws?
- How much torque do you need to deliver?
- How many fasteners do you need to tighten in a day?
- How large is your assembly area?
- Do you need to collect and document detailed assembly data for your product?
On an even more basic level, you need to know what you’re fastening and how fast you need to fasten it. If your product has any special needs, these should be taken into consideration as well. Once you’ve got this figured out, it’s time to look at your options and find the tool that fits your needs.
Choosing Between Hand and Electric Screwdrivers
Your answers to the questions above will help determine the tool that best suits your needs. For instance, if you’re fastening bolts, you’ll need a wrench. If you’re fastening screws, you’ll need a screwdriver. That’s the easy one. Assuming you’re looking for a screwdriver, the next step is to look at the amount of torque you need to apply.
Hand screwdrivers, particularly preset hand screwdrivers, can deliver more torque than electric screwdrivers. After all, heavy-duty electric screwdrivers can deliver almost 90 lbf.in of torque. However, most models are only capable of delivering about half that amount or even a quarter. Preset hand screwdrivers, in contrast, can deliver up to 120 lbf.in. So, for larger screws that need more torque, hand screwdrivers are likely your best option.
Once you know how many fasteners you’ll need to tighten in a day and how large your assembly area is, you’ll have an idea of how fast you’ll need to work to accomplish your production goals. Electric screwdrivers are substantially faster than hand screwdrivers. So, if you’re only producing a few items a day, hand screwdrivers will get the job done. If you need to make many products at a rapid pace or fasten many screws on the same product quickly, though, an electric screwdriver is more likely to meet your needs.
In some industries, it’s essential to collect and store data on each fastener for quality assurance or regulatory purposes, and often both. Doing so is much simpler with electric screwdrivers as they can be easily augmented with screw counters or linked together as part of a DC control system. Either option allows for a real-time monitoring and collection of data on every fastener. Collecting this data with hand screwdrivers is not nearly as easy. Fasteners can be tested after the fact with a dial screwdriver and their torque values recorded by manual data entry. This method, while possible, is onerous and time-consuming when compared with automated systems.
The final consideration is price. By and large, hand screwdrivers are less expensive than electric screwdrivers. As such, it stands to reason that if hand screwdrivers fit the needs of your production, they will more easily generate a return on your investment. If your assembly could feasibly use either type of screwdriver, then, it makes more financial sense to invest in hand screwdrivers. However, if your production volume is too high or your data collection needs are too rigorous to accomplish by hand, then electric screwdrivers are the right choice.
The most effective way to decide how to tool your production process is the most simple. Figure out what you need, then choose the tools which best fulfill your requirements. Your knowledge of your product’s assembly process will tell you almost everything you need to know. What’s the best tool? The one that gets the job done.