In recent times, our industrial tools have become more digitalized. For example, paper-based work instructions are slowly being replaced by PC, tablet, and smartphone-based digital ones. Even basic hardware devices like torque wrenches are becoming obsolete and many have been replaced by their digital counterparts.
Yet, what are digital work instructions and digital torque wrenches? Is it worth it to transition into them? In this article, we will cover the advantages of integrating your digital torque wrench and a digital work instructions platform, what the transition process might look like, and the success story of how one of our customers has boosted their production efficiency after implementing our digital work instructions solution module.
What are Digital Work Instructions?
Traditionally, production workers would receive their work instructions on paper from their managers. For complicated tasks, it might even be in the form of a book that is hundreds of pages long. This makes such work instructions impractical, immobile, and visually inconvenient.
Fortunately, all of these drawbacks can be solved by transitioning into digital work instructions. Managers can send their work instructions in a digital format that can be accessed through a PC, tablet, or smartphone. Digital work instructions have numerous advantages over conventional paper-based ones, and you can check the complete details in the Ultimate Guide to Digital Work Instructions.
What is a Digital Torque Wrench?
In essence, it is a torque wrench that is supported by digital technologies. This includes digital torque measurement sensors, digital screens and interfaces, sound and/or light feedback signals, electric motors in some wrenches, and the ability to link with other devices.
The Importance of Torque Control Across Various Industries
Torquing is applied in a multitude of industries. If there is a nut or a bolt, then there is torquing to be done. Precision torquing, meaning that a nut or bolt is not under or over-tightened, is crucial.
Undertightening could lead to loose nuts or bolts and will surely compromise your product’s safety and quality. Meanwhile, overtightening can damage your nuts or bolts as well as your product, thus lowering their lifespan.
Here are some industry examples where torquing is extensively used:
Torquing in the Automotive Sector
If something has wheels attached to it – then there is a good chance that torquing is involved. A wheel is generally fastened to a vehicle using lug nuts. Thus, installing or removing a vehicle’s wheels necessitates a large amount of torque work, with the help of the proper torque tools.
Inputting the correct torque is important, since it will impact a vehicle’s safety and overall driving experience. Improper torquing work can lead to dire consequences. For example, earlier this year, Ford had to recall 1,434 cars for defects in lug nuts installment, for the sake of ensuring its customers’ safety.
Torquing in Piping
Most pipelines consist of numerous pipe sections that are joined together. For larger pipelines, bolts and nuts are liberally used to connect its joints. To prevent future leaks and breakdowns, pipping engineers must ensure that sufficient torque has been applied in securing these joints.
Torquing in the Aviation Industry
An Airbus A380 jumbo jet consists of around 4 million individual components. All of them must be put together in order to have a safe, fully functioning plane. This is where nuts and bolts, tightened by torque tools, play their part.
Due to the risks associated with flying, the aviation world is heavily regulated. Planes need to pass airworthiness checks and undertake routine maintenance. Yet even with strict requirements, every now and then, torquing-related incidents in aviation still do happen. In 2015, a loose nut caused a US Air Force plane to catch fire, costing damages worth $62.4 million.
Torquing in General Manufacturing
Torquing is a highly common task in the manufacturing sector. Countless tasks require the use of a torque wrench, from opening the casing of a machinery, to fastening bolts in an air conditioner. When working in manufacturing, it’s always a good idea to have torque tools available at your site at all times.
Why Should You Integrate Your Digital Torque Wrench With Digital Work Instructions?
There are numerous advantages of integrating your digital torque wrench with a digital work instruction platform. Many of our customers have experienced tangible improvements to their operations by using a digital works instructions solution.
Digital work instructions are revolutionizing communications in the workplace. Visual guidance brings a higher sense of clarity and precision for your workers when executing torquing tasks. The results will be apparent in the quality and safety of your end products.
It’s even more evident in tasks where a specific sequence must be followed. In the assembly of a car’s engine, for example, components must be fastened in a specific continuous order. With digital work instructions, your workers will be visually guided through the correct sequence of components fastening.
Not only that, but your workers will also be visually informed of the required torque value to the last decimal digits in each specific nut and bolt. This will be automatically crosschecked by the sound and light feedback signals emitted by your digital torque wrench.
What’s more, you can even program both your digital work instruction and digital torque wrench to follow a predetermined sequence. This means that your workers cannot proceed to the next step of the assembly process if the required torque value hasn’t been applied or if there are other forms of mistakes. This feature ensures the quality compliance of your products.
Easily Understood Instructions
The greatest advantage of integrating your digital torque wrench with digital work instructions is having an instructions set that is easily understood. Thanks to easily added visual cues such as images, arrow pointers, color coding, animations, and videos, work instructions can be understood at a glance in a matter of seconds by your torquing workers.
With this feature, work instructions can seamlessly pinpoint specific assembly components, as well as their precise instructions on what to do with them. This is a huge improvement from previously hefty manual books, where workers have to traverse hundreds of pages just for a specific instruction.
Besides that, a good digital work instructions platform’s interface must be intuitive and user-friendly. For managers, drafting digital work instructions is a walk in the park. Thanks to its drag-and-drop nature, no prior coding or graphic design skill is necessary to draft a good digital work instruction. A page of work instruction can be completed in a matter of minutes, saving your managers valuable time.
Hence, integrating your digital torque wrench will surely be appreciated by your managers and production workers.
Real-Time Data Capture and Analysis for Quality Control:
A digital work instructions platform. Our software allows you to link your digital torque wrench to other devices, such as a PC or a tablet. This allows a seamless exchange of data between your digital torque wrench and other production tools.
With this feature, quality control officers can easily read the torque readings of production workers, all from the comfort of their desks in the office. Gone are the days when quality control officers had to go back and forth between the production line and their office for quality checking.
If a torquing defect is detected, a quality control officer can instantly notify production workers on the site. This saves plenty of time and energy for your quality control officers, which can be freed for other tasks. Discover more here on how a real-time data collection feature has successfully improved Nitto’s production efficiency significantly.
Improved Traceability and Better Compliance
Another major advantage of this integration is an enhanced level of traceability. Thanks to our record-keeping feature, readings from your digital torque wrench can be stored within a digital work instructions software platform. This data can be used again in the future, such as for a long-term quality evaluation. Furthermore, the collected data could also be used as a databank to fulfill audit and certification requirements.
Limiting the Risks of Over – and Undertorquing
In torque-related works, both over- and under-torquing are frequently found issues. At a glance, they might seem negligible and benign. However, they carry grave consequences, such as damaging the assembled part, lowering your product’s lifespan, and sometimes even leading to fatal accidents.
From various torque-related incidents, a common cause is due to poor nuts or bolts installation by assembly or maintenance workers. Consequently, it’s critical that your workers fully understand the required torquing procedures.
By using digital work instructions, you will seriously reduce the possibility of human errors among your workers. Digital work instructions offer real-time guidance with immensely deep details. It can even pinpoint instructions to a specific nut or bolt, along with the required torque in Newton meters or other similar units, down to the last decimal points.
Digital work instructions also provide you with easily customizable visual cues, such as arrows and other shape icons, color coding, animations, and even videos. Since the guidance is real-time and can be integrated with your digital torque wrench, it will also provide instant feedback to your workers on whether the correct torque value has been applied.
You can even set your digital torque wrench to stop automatically if a sufficient torque value has been reached. This innovation tremendously reduces the chances of torquing mistakes, improving the quality and safety of your products.
The Risks of Not Integrating Your Digital Torque Wrench With Digital Work Instructions
By not linking your digital torque wrench with a digital work instruction platform such as Azumuta, there are some drawbacks that your company could experience, such as:
Stuck With Conventional Paper Instructions
Using digital work instructions means that you will go 100% paper-free. With our Digital Work Instructions module, with a digital work instructions platform, you can say goodbye to conventional thick & heavy instruction books that can go as long as hundreds of pages. This allows you to be more mobile, as thousands of pages of instruction materials can fit into your tablet or phone.
Moreover, opting for paper-free means that your company will cut printing costs. Research in the US shows that on average, an employee prints 8,874 pages of documents each year, costing an average of USD 725 per employee per year. Thus, going paperless means cutting unnecessary costs.
Last but not least, going paperless also showcases your company’s commitment to lowering its environmental impact.
Increased Proneness to Errors
Moreover, the lack of interoperability between your wrenches and other devices means an increased likeliness of undetected errors. With the absence of shared data sourced from your wrenches, quality control officers wouldn’t know whether the correct torque value has been delivered. This means that there are fewer quality crosschecks, rendering your end product to be more prone to defects.
No Real-Time Quality Control
The lack of integration between your wrenches and other devices means that there is no real-time quality control. Your quality control officers must always be present at the time and place of the production process. This means that your quality control officers have to travel back and forth between the assembly line and the workstation for data input – costing valuable manhours every day.
To add, your quality control officers have to document and manually input their findings using different tools, such as a phone camera, Excel spreadsheets, or even traditional paper notebooks. Whereas using a QMS, all you need is simply a tablet or a phone.
How to Integrate Your Digital Torque Wrench With a Compatible Software
Before integrating your digital torque wrench into any production-supporting software, it’s best to know the basics first. What are they capable of? What are their limitations? What does the integration process look like? And what are you planning to achieve with this integration?
Steps of Integrating Your Digital Torque Wrench With a Digital Work Instructions Software
These are the fundamental questions that any user should answer before linking their digital torque wrench to any production-supporting software. Before further ado, here are the key steps in integrating your digital torque wrench to a compatible software:
- Check which communication protocol will be used for the integration of your digital torque wrench and the selected software (generally accessed through a tablet/smartphone/PC). This can be done using a Wi-Fi connection, or any other common method of wireless or wired connection.
Using the selected communication protocol, pair your digital torque wrench to a tablet/smartphone/PC, where the selected software has been installed. The pairing method depends on the selected communication protocol. Moreover, both your digital torque wrench and the selected software generally provide the manual on how to pair them.
After both devices have been linked, install all of the required software. Sometimes they will automatically pop up on your screen.
Otherwise, you might need to download them from the wrench manufacturer’s and the software provider’s website. Regardless, there will always be instructions during the installation process.
After all of the software has been properly installed, take some time to get acquainted with the user interface. Afterward, your digital torque wrench has been properly linked to the selected software and is ready for use.
Before using your digital torque wrench and the linked software for any real production activity, it’s always a good idea to test them first. Execute this test by applying a predetermined torque to a test nut or bolt. Use a quality control wrench to check whether the torque amount displayed by your new wrench and the connected tablet/phone/PC corresponds well with this predetermined torque amount.
Furthermore, check if your linked digital torque wrench & selected software can detect errors in torque tightening/loosening. For example, set your digital torque wrench to apply 100 Newton meters (Nm) of torque.
However, during the test, apply a deviated torque amount, such as 90 Nm. Afterward, check whether both your digital torque wrench and your tablet/smartphone/PC detect this error and notify you of it.
If everything goes smoothly, then both your digital torque wrench and the integrated software are ready to use
Tips to Improve Your Digital Torque Wrench’s Longevity
Some Precautionary Measures
Should you notice a defect in either your digital torque wrench or your software, immediately contact the wrench/software producer and your local distributor. A digital torque wrench typically comes with a time-limited guarantee. The sooner you notify a defect, the better.
It’s advisable to make a video recording of all of these processes, starting from the unboxing up to the testing phase. Should there be any defect, you will have solid evidence that it does not come from your side, and it will strengthen your refund/replacement claim.
Digital torque wrenches commonly cost hundreds of Euros, with higher-end ones costing over EUR 1,500/wrench. Hence, always ensure that you receive what you’re paying for.
Digital Torque Wrench Maintenance Tips
If not in use, always store your wrench in its designated case. Keep it away from extreme temperatures, dust, water, and humidity. It might appear like a typical Do-it-yourself (DIY) hardware tool, but a digital torque wrench is in fact a sensitive electronic device. Never expose it to brute impacts that non-electronic hardware such as a hammer could take.
To ensure its precision, calibrate it regularly. Based on the internationally recognized ISO 6789:2017 standards, calibrate your wrench minimum every 12 months or 5,000 usages – whichever is earlier. Some users even calibrate their wrench every 6 months or 2,000-3,000 usages to ensure an even higher level of precision.
Be sure to train your employees in setting up, using, maintaining, and checking the accuracy of your wrenches. To add, your employees must excel in using the integrated software as well. Fortunately, most digital torque wrench-compatible software come with an instruction module and an FAQ section, either within their software or on their website.
At the end of the day, a digital torque wrench linked to a digital work instructions platform is always better than those that are not. This integration offers an abundance of benefits for your company. Such benefits include user-friendly digital instructions, real-time quality control, improved traceability, and cutting down on printing-related costs.
Learn more on how our Digital Work Instructions module can help your digital torque wrench achieve its full potential. Be sure to check how our one-stop software has successfully improved our customers’ business efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and employee satisfaction.