Arctic Cat Inc. (Thief River Falls, MN), a manufacturer of off-road recreational vehicles, is using digital torque analyzing tools and precision sensors to tighten fasteners on its snowmobiles. David Ulrich, quality analyst, explains, "The way we were torquing fasteners was inaccurate and time-consuming. It was easy to over- or under-torque a fastener on any given joint. We needed to improve our ability to accurately measure torque." For many years, torque control on the three assem- bly lines consisted of using impact wrenches to snug down fasteners, then torquing them to specification using a clicker or dial torque wrench.

After much research, the company chose Mountz Inc.'s (San Jose, CA) TorqueMate 200, which is portable and fits in a person's hand. Now, the company no longer relies on impact and clicker wrenches, and over- or under-torquing a fastener is no longer a concern. The TorqueMate shuts off at a specified torque for consistent effi-ciency. The quality control people now have the ability to measure tool performance, giving repeatability and accuracy. It is digitally operated and allows use of many external transducers in different areas of the plant.

The engineering department uses the TorqueMate to evaluate fasteners and develop new clamping methods. They can now simulate a particular joint in one of their vehicles and then try to get the fastener to jam, strip or break to test its strength.

Not only has the torque analyzer streamlined production on the assembly line, it has also allowed quality control inspectors to calibrate torque sensors, as well as verify torque on fasteners. It can record up to 1,000 readings and can store calibration data for 15 torque sensors. According to Ulrich, the tool has "taken away the human element and, consequently, the need for constant evaluation. So, we now have a production process that's more stable and quality we can prove with compiled data."

The management and engineering departments calculated that the com-pany will now save about 3,355 work hours per year on the assembly line, which will translate into about $50,000 per year in labor savings. Additionally, the company will save $57,000 per year, because it won't need to pur- chase pneumatic impact wrenches and clicker torque wrenches for all three assembly lines.

For more information on torque control tools, call Mountz at 800-456-1828, visit