Keeping maintenance times and associated costs to an absolute minimum is vital in both the Oil & Gas and Mining industries. In high vibration environments, fasteners are subjected to significant load variations, making threaded assemblies prone to loosening and resultant equipment failure. Therefore it is critical to the overall efficiency and productivity of a site that innovative technologies are used to counter this potentially crippling issue.
Traditional methods used to provide a level of certainty that fasteners are tightened correctly include manual torque wrenches, pneumatic impact wrenches or automatic torque cutoff tools. However each of these methods has a major drawback which can make it difficult and often impossible to determine whether a joint is properly tensioned for a specific application. Namely – they use torque as a basis of measurement – yet we want TENSION in the joint!
Using torque can result in large variations in accuracy due to calibration, thread tolerances, pick up and galling between thread surfaces, rust, oil, or even dirt and dust in the actual tension produced by these techniques.
The amount of torque needed to accurately produce a desired tension is very hard to obtain without extensive laboratory tests under specific conditions; however a unique purpose-engineered fastener has been developed to combat this issue – sold by Stanley Engineered Fastening in Australia.
The genius of the iQbolt™- a Direct Tension Indicator
iQbolts™ respond only to fastener tension, ignoring torque inputs so that they can provide a true measure of joint tightness or clamp. The indicator works on the most accurate principle for tension measurement – fastener elongation when tensioned under load.
Stanley Engineered Fastening’s iQbolt™ gradually darkens from a bright red when loose, to black as the fastener is tightened to design tension – based on an internal pin moving and allowing fluid to flow to show the colour change through a clear indicator window when the fastener is stretched.
The indicator is designed to be used in the elastic range of the fastener. As long as the bolts are not tensioned beyond the proof strength of the fastener, the bolt will remain elastic and not take a permanent set. Therefore, the indicator will continue to function normally. This is also why an iQbolt™ does not need to be recalibrated at any point in their life.
In a nutshell, the iQbolt™ is a specialty fastener that indicates whether a joint is loose or tight with a visual indicator, and is customisable to indicate at your specified tension – therefore suitable to suit a wide variety of critical applications or simply where reliability is critical but monitoring is difficult or time consuming.
Requiring absolutely no wires, instruments or complex procedures or training for installation, and with a long service life of 20+ years if used correctly, the iQbolt™ can lower fastener installation times by up to 80% versus traditional methods. Maintenance personnel simply need to look at bolt heads and focus on any loose bolts only – tightening the bolt with standard spanners until the indicator turns to the correct colour and then move on. And because the bolt is tightened to the tension you request, the chances of these losing tension are lower in the first place!
Using the most accurate principle used to measure fastener tension, iQbolt™ technology is accurate to within +/- 10% of design tension – much more accurate than measuring torque which is typically within 30% of accuracy. This ensures reliability time and time again and takes the guesswork out of safety.
By incorporating Stanley Engineering Fastening’s iQbolt™, oil & gas and mining companies can realise increased safety, reduced costs related to maintenance for critical machinery and importantly higher uptime – giving companies peace of mind knowing that their bolts are doing their job.
Click here for more information on Stanley’s Direct Tension Indicator, the iQbolt™.