A recent industry survey carried out by Norbar Torque Tools has revealed a shocking lack of awareness of the importance of properly maintaining torque-controlled tools such as wrenches and screwdrivers – with a staggering 24% of respondents to the survey admitting that they never calibrated their torque tools.
Philip Brodey, sales director of Norbar, explains: "Although we were aware of the problem, we were truly surprised by its magnitude as revealed by the survey. As specialist torque tool manufacturers we naturally place a great deal of emphasis on the accuracy of our products. But even the most accurate tool needs regular checking and calibration to ensure that it remains within tolerance."
Norbar Torque Tools offers the most comprehensive UKAS torque calibration facilities in the UK with accreditation for wrenches, multipliers and torque measuring devices between 0.05 and 6,800 N.m.
Brodey sees this facility as a vital aspect of Norbar's service: "There is no question that the accuracy of torque setting is crucial in ensuring the safe use of threaded fasteners in critical applications like automotive, aviation or industrial processes," he warns, "a good quality torque tool obviously helps to ensure accuracy, but tool quality alone is not enough – only regular checking and calibration can deliver that."
He continues: "This survey has revealed a clear need for education amongst users, but also for manufacturers to provide a cost-effective means for users to check their tools regularly in the workplace."
Recognising this need, Norbar launched its TruCheck system earlier this year. TruCheck is an inexpensive – yet accurate – torque tool tester that allows tools to be easily checked in the workshop. Costing just a few hundred pounds, TruCheck is designed to be exceptionally simple to use.
The operator simply attaches the torque tool to the tester and tightens until the tool activates. The test result is then instantly displayed and on the "TruCheck Plus" version a simple red, green and amber "traffic-light" indicator confirms that the tool being tested is within the tolerance specified. Workshops already using TruCheck report that the easy-to-use tester has helped change attitudes, enabling routine tool checking to become the norm rather than the exception.
"We believe TruCheck is a step towards ensuring users have effective checking and maintenance procedures in place for their torque tools," says Brodey. "But any such procedures must also include regular factory calibration." Norbar's torque calibration laboratory is one of the best facilities of its kind in the UK, and is available to users of all types of torque tools, regardless of manufacturer.
"The combination of regular workshop checks using TruCheck, backed up by annual calibration at our UKAS accredited laboratory will ensure that good quality torque tools maintain an acceptable standard of accuracy in normal usage," Brodey continues.
"A relatively modest investment in such a programme makes sound business sense when one considers the consequences of mechanical failure caused by inaccurately tightened fasteners. We would certainly encourage those companies not currently doing so to get an effective programme of tool checking and calibration in place."
For more information on TruCheck and other Norbar Instruments, please click here.