The need for error-proofing and data collection in the Wind Energy industry continues to increase. We typically see high-level error-proofing on what are called “safety critical” bolts, where an improper assembly of the bolt could result in a failure that could cause an injury. Data is also collected on those safety critical bolts, so there is a record of the proper assembly, and so that the process can be improved in the future to ensure the best possible assembly practices. On a wind turbine, nearly all of the bolts in the assembly could be deemed safety critical.
In Wind Energy operations, it is not only the production of the equipment that includes safety critical torque applications, but the maintenance operations as well. In maintenance, the same bolts that are assembled in the factory are often disassembled and then retorqued after maintenance. It is logical that the same standard of error-proofing and data collection be applied in these operations.
When assembling safety critical fasteners in Wind Energy, the challenge often lies in the size of the components and access to the bolts within. The components themselves are very large, so assembling the bolts on them requires a tool that allows the operator to move freely around something of that size. At the same time, though, many of the bolts inside a wind turbine are designed to sit snugly against a side wall, or in a space that can be difficult to reach, so a tool with the flexibility to get into these tight spaces is also required. In field maintenance, these challenges are magnified, because much of the assembly takes place inside the turbine, hundreds of feet above the ground.
For these challenging, safety-critical operations, battery tools represent the future of bolt assembly in the Wind Energy industry. New high-torque battery tools from Atlas Copco offer Wind Energy manufacturers and service organizations alike a tool with all of the error-proofing capability that manufacturers in a variety of industries have come to expect from Atlas Copco Tools and our Power Focus 6000 tool controller. Further, the compact design of these tools makes them ideal for fitting into the tight spaces of typical Wind Energy applications. These torque tools are capable of up to 590 ft-lbs in the battery configuration, with a comfortable pistol grip design and an easy-to-program controller interface.