Designer: HTL Group
Product: HTL Aero Series 700
HTL Group were part of the government’s health and safety executives MSD Design Awards supporting their client Airbus and received a “Highly Commended” entry for the manufacture of the Aero Series 700 hydraulic torque wrench. Sponsored by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF), the award considered inspirational businesses that have ergonomically designed changes which reduced the risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
A collaborative approach between Airbus UK and HTL Group led to an ergonomics-based design change within Airbus’ assembly of the A350 wingbox.
Access to the overhead fasteners within the A350 wingbox are awkward, with the bolting locations positioned inside and outside the tank. Previously, electric tools weighing between 12-15 kg, sometimes heavier than 20 kg’s were used, which led to a combination of weight and limited access restrictions. This resulted in operators enduring awkward postures, fatigue and musculoskeletal injuries.
HTL Group addressed Airbus’ problem with a solution. From the initial concept, to the design and manufacture, both companies worked collaboratively to ensure a fit for purpose solution that eliminated current problems.
HTL Group have provided controlled bolting solutions for over two decades, supporting the Oil and Gas sector, Construction, Renewables and now Aviation. Over the years HTL has developed world-class facilities and now operate a Custom Engineering Division, offering bespoke, in-house engineered-to-order designs.
Upon discovering Airbus’ health and safety concerns, HTL developed an initial 3D model of a prototype torque wrench that was trial fitted onsite. The custom hydraulic bolting tool was designed to be lightweight at less than 5 kg, to reduce operator fatigue and musculoskeletal injuries, whilst being compact in design to allow access to restricted bolt locations within the wingbox. As an additional benefit, the newly designed tool also requires low maintenance ensuring reduced downtime.
The impact of the reduced load weight and the size of the tool was measured by Airbus and confirmed that the new hydraulic bolting tool reduced the risk of musculoskeletal issues to operators. The prevention of work related injuries also has the potential to reduce absenteeism associated with the task of using the heavier, more cumbersome tool that was previously utilised for the bolting task.
The lightweight and compact tool also contributed to the reduced risk of pinch points and finger traps, making the new tool inherently safer.
Airbus are currently exploring the opportunities for the technology to be transferred across their Broughton site and other Airbus Group locations.
“Less operator fatigue- safer and much lighter than the old, heavyweight tooling.”
“Easier to use: To operate, you just squeeze the pendant trigger & wait for the green light to stop flashing – this tells you that the full torque has been applied to the fastener – it’s that simple.”