Electric assembly tools have been in widespread use in manufacturing for decades now. For many manufacturers, the improvements electric assembly tools provide in terms of production efficiency and quality control are a given, and we’re now figuring out how to optimize the tooling already in place. For most aerospace manufacturers, though, electric assembly tools, and the benefits they offer, are just now beginning to be implemented.
The Aerospace industry has been slower to implement electric assembly tools for a number of reasons. Many fasteners on aircraft are not actually torqued; they are riveted, with a different assembly process. Other fasteners are designed so that the hex head on the fastener breaks at a specific torque. Those fasteners can’t be reused, but are needed to provide a flush final surface in some tightenings. Breakaway fasteners also don’t require a torque controlled tool, since the torque is verified through the fastener breaking. Changing materials in aircraft with the advent of lightweight composites and metals have required changes in fasteners used, including more torqued fasteners similar to those found in other manufacturing environments.
The other recently developed benefit in electric assembly tools for Aerospace manufacturers is battery tool capability. Aerospace manufacturers have unique challenges in production because the parts they build are often very large, where it can be difficult to access all of the fasteners on the part with a single tool connected to a tool controller by a cable. Those parts also have difficult-to-reach fasteners and confined spaces inside of them that can be very difficult for an operator to navigate to with a cabled tool. With a variety of battery tools that are now available, including low reaction tools that will protect operators in awkward positions, it is now possible to provide error-proofing solutions for all of these applications.
As both the Aerospace industry and Atlas Copco assembly tools continue to evolve, we look forward to more exciting developments that will improve productivity and efficiency!