#4 | 2020
SYN] Magazin

Keeping track of tools

Industrial Location Tethering

The tool cable – a blessing and a curse

In addition to the benefits connected with line rebalancing, improved tool handling is THE key argument in favor of cordless tools from the employee’s point of view.

However, in some production sectors, cable-connected tools may be deliberately used to limit the working range of a tool via the cable length. This means that assembly work on components that have not yet reached the appropriate assembly station is avoided and premature working is prevented. This approach ensures compliance with the production processes and procedures documented in a company’s quality management system. Another clear advantage is that each tool remains at its specified assembly station.

This is where the use of cordless tools present certain challenges. Production planners frequently face the problem of ensuring that cordless tools are only used in a defined working area and, ideally, only for tightening defined joints.

The solution to this problem often calls for a costly location solution with digital recording of an entire production line and real-time monitoring of working areas. However, such complex systems are not always necessary to master the challenges mentioned above. 

The “virtual cable” solution

This is precisely the problem Atlas Copco’s new ILT – Industrial Location Tethering System – sets out to solve. It consists of two components, the base station (receiver) and the tool tag (transmitter) which can be retrofitted to any standard tool from the ST, STR, STB, or SRB series. In simplified terms, the system can be seen as a “virtual cable” that continually measures and monitors the distance between the tool tag and the base station in an intelligent way.

An example: precise location for greater process security 

For example, a production or process planner may define the working area where a cordless screwdriver is to be active within a radius of at least 2 meters and no more than 4 meters from the base station. If the tool has moved outside the defined area, this is detected by the base station and the tool is disabled. At the same time, a blue LED on the tool tag warns the operator that the tool is currently disabled. As soon as the tool returns to the defined radius, the system automatically reactivates the tool and a green LED signals that it is enabled for further tightening processes.

Cable-connected tools also need security

A special feature of ILT that is that it can also be used for cable-connected tools – although the benefits may not be immediately apparent.

As already mentioned, there are applications where cable-connected tools may also only be used in a defined working here. The maximum radius of action of the user is limited by the length of the tool cable.

However, the cable length alone can not clearly define the joints to be tightened as in the case of our example with the cordless action. Here too, our Industrial Location Tethering system can provide support and boost process security. Irrespective of the actual cable length, the tool user is immediately warned if he leaves the predefined working radius of 2 to 4 meters.

Improved efficiency for the entire assembly production process

However, the ILT is more than “only” a virtual cable. In addition to the possibility of distance measurement mentioned above, the system also has other functions to reduce the error rate during assembly and to significantly improve the quality of tightening.

Using the orientation function, the system can even identify different tightening points within the defined working area on the basis of the axis position (roll and pitch axes) of the tool. This unique feature is possible as a result of a position sensor integrated in the tool tag. The system can also detect whether a tool is to the right or left of the component and whether the user is holding the nutrunner in the ergonomically correct position. Furthermore, the system offers the possibility of automatically selecting a pre-defined tightening program on the basis of the tool position (position detection function), ensuring optimum completion of the assembly process and increasing process security 

True to the motto of “easy-to-use”, system programming and adaptation using a touch screen or web browser are simple and intuitive. No additional installation software is needed.

Our new Industrial Location Tethering System is THE perfect entry to the world of tool location and plays a key role in making your assembly production processes more efficient, more secure and above all smarter.

You will find further information on Industrial Location Tethering here