CAPS banks on bolting

CAPS Australia is bringing the mining industry’s bolting woes to heel with the QX torque multiplier.

Millions of little bolts hold Australia’s mining sector together.

From the largest dump truck to the longest conveyor belt, bolted joints keep equipment running as it pulls off mining feats measured in millions of tonnes.

This means bolted joints need to be tough. But with so many bolts holding equipment together, maintenance practices can become complacent, jeopardising the integrity of the connection and the overall machine.

Mine operators are faced with the challenge of quick and accurate bolt fastening for torque-critical joints on a daily basis. These joints can be found across a site, from excavators, dump trucks, earthmovers and wheel loaders to conveyors, tunnel-boring machines, infrastructure, pipework and upstream equipment.

It goes without saying that in a heavy-duty, high-risk environment such as a mine site, accuracy of torque applied is critical. Without a solid method for joint reliability, operators risk costly breakdowns.

CAPS offers greater accuracy, safety and accountability in bolting joint solutions with Ingersoll Rand’s range of QX torque multipliers.

Established in 1980, CAPS boasts more than 44 years of experience in compressed air and power generation. With 10 branches around Australia and 24–7 service for maintenance and emergency breakdowns, CAPS endeavours to lead the industry in service and solutions.

Through its considerable experience, CAPS saw the potential the QX torque multiplier had to offer the Australian mining industry.

Specifically designed to replace less accurate manual fastening methods with a traceable process, OX torque multipliers aim to be a quicker and more effective alternative.

Bolt fastening has typically been a costly, labour-intensive exercise.

Technicians often use impact wrenches that can over-torque joints, and have to use two-person hydraulic wrenches that are externally powered and bulky, or air and corded electric nutrunners that change torque via a time-consuming bench torque tester.

But inefficient operation is only part of the challenge. Indeterminate control and monitoring see companies manually recording torque goals with paper and pencil in the field. This is often a game of guesswork that slows down production when measurements are out of sync.

Time is certainly valuable for productivity, but it’s not the only consideration. Accuracy, consistency and traceability of performance are the cornerstones of a compliant and safe work site. Technicians need a precise auditing method to ensure the right tool is being used for the right job.

But commercial and compliance difficulties are often key drivers of innovation, and it was with these challenges in mind that Ingersoll Rand developed the QX series cordless torque multiplier. CAPS Australia now wants to optimise the mining sector with a nation-wide rollout.

Relatively new to the Australian market, the QX series torque multiplier employs advanced technology, boasts a 200–4000Nm average range, and is available in 20V and 40V options.

The multiplier features a brushless motor paired with a premium Norbar gearbox. At the heart of the torque multiplier is the Ingersoll Rand closed-loop transducer, which is the key to delivering torque precision, accuracy and traceable results.

The tool operates on the Ingersoll Rand IQV20 and 40V series battery system and each 20V battery charge will rundown an average of 100 bolts.

The multi-function display module provides visual feedback via red, yellow and green lights to signal whether the bolt has met the specified torque limit or angle, or if the proper gang count was reached. This takes the guesswork out of its operation and maximises efficiency.

The only tool using a closed-loop transducer for precision, according to company, the QX torque multiplier delivers accuracy to +/- 0.1Nm without use of a test bench.

Operators are already seeing the benefit from improved efficiency and ability to hit nuts in faster sequence.

Multiple user-programmable configurations such as torque (Nm, Ft-lbs, in-lbs, prevailing), angle and gang count reduce the number of tools needed for multiple applications. Up to 32 pre-set settings can be stored, and these functions can be navigated directly on the tool or programmed from the Insight app, a computer or data controller, or remotely online.

The quiet, cordless and compact QX torque multiplier helps to eliminate the need for a hydraulic pump or breaker bar and reduces noise and vibration levels, increasing on-site safety and reducing worker fatigue.

The risk of injury and operator strain is minimised as users move freely without the inconvenience of bulky air or hydraulic hoses or power packs, and the 360° adjustable handle provides a comfortable grip and provisions for a tethering point, allowing maximum flexibility when working on multiple joints and accessing odd angles.

Replacing potentially flawed and time-consuming manual record-keeping practices, the multiplier tool itself can store records for up to 1200 fastenings, which can be downloaded to a computer via a USB cable or wirelessly transferred to a dedicated process communication module.

Reliable compliance data is now available for operators to review, analyse and keep record of at any time.

CAPS is the only Australian distributor of the Ingersoll Rand QX torque multiplier, which has successfully been utilised across mining, heavy equipment, rail, construction, infrastructure, military, and process automation industries around the world.

The QX series of smart tools also includes right angle wrenches, pistol wrenches and precision screwdrivers, all offering improved process control, operator comfort, and data communication while increasing productivity, lowering costs, and ensuring quality.

Bolting joints may be an essential and unavoidable part of mining in Australia, but the QX torque multiplier offers a smart solution to keeping every bolt in its place.

This feature appeared in the March 2024 issue of Australian Mining.

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