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Sitting Between Industrial Bolting and Data Storage – The Missing Link

For many years, industrial bolting, in particular, hydraulic torque tools and IT couldn’t have been further apart. It is only relatively recently that this industry has recognised the potential benefits of the use of IT.

In the recent past, tables, slide rules and good old field experience were the tools of the trade as far as identifying the torque and residual bolt load required for each application. Scarily, going not too much further back than that, some old school bolting technicians claimed they could tell when a bolt was tight by the ring of the flogging spanner when they whacked it with a hammer! Thankfully, these day’s health and safety regulations and let’s be honest, good old common sense requires something a little less basic.

Not only do we need to calculate bolt loads, but we need to produce work instructions and joint completion records. On a moderate sized petrochemical plant there can be many thousands of joints of a variety of types and sizes and they all need to be recorded and have a history trail throughout the life of the plant. You can hear the forests screaming from here as we consider the amount of paper necessary to do this in the past.

Over the last decade, the industry has woken up to the fact that information technology, in a number of formats can make a massive difference to the calculation and recording of bolted industrial joints.

From simple manufacturers apps providing bolt load calculations, bolting patterns and tool selection recommendations to a fully live, unbiased, cloud based system with an extensive team of industry experts working in the background there are now a wide variety of software options out there.

What is missing however, is a user friendly and robust hardware interface between the operator, tool and power pack and the data storage software.

There are some really clunky, expensive and difficult to handle systems out there as well as a few attempts to use tablets or smart phones but any of you with teenagers will appreciate, tablets and smart phones don’t do well in dirty, tough environments (bedrooms and bolting applications alike).

There is now a revolutionary, robust, cost effective, wireless device of a similar size to a smart phone that can not only lead the operator through each bolt to the correct torque and in sequence and store the data real time to the cloud but it can actually control and operate the pump and tool independently removing all the potential for human error. As well has having its own nifty software package, the system can also interface with others offering the flexibility to meet the varied preferences of clients.

It can store and provide work instructions and a supervisor can sit in his office in London monitoring a bolting operation real time, in Dubai. With many more amazing features including a high-resolution camera to record images of the bolting operation at all stages this really is the future of industrial bolting!

With more and more asset owners and the whole health and safety industry insisting upon detailed data acquisition and storage for each and every bolted joint, everybody in our industry will be required to offer solution packages to provide this data.

— Jon Naylor

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