The simplest components to maintain on equipment and machinery across all industrial sectors are the nuts and bolts. As bolted joints are one of the most common elements in constructing a design, the utmost importance should be given to the reliability of each joint.
Over recent generations, the physics that explain fastening devices for bolting have been closely studied, and improvements to the means of measuring and applying force consistently and correctly with hydraulic torque wrenches have now been developed.
When it comes to bolted joints the significance of the application should be the contributing factor. As pressure vessels and pipe flanges require leak-free joints, the machinery industry guards against vibrations. Each application is therefore determined by various factors, with bolt load accuracy being the primary focus.
For joint integrity operations, Controlled Bolting is very important. This method of tightening fasteners ensures that both the tightening and loosening bolts are done in a controlled and safe manner, increasing productivity and operator and job-site safety.
Torque and Tension are the two most commonly used methods to tighten a bolt. Simply put, Torque tightening utilises the helix of the bolt thread form to drive the nut down the bolt threads, which in turn applies a bolt load. Whereas Tensioning applies a direct tensile load to the bolt avoiding the torsional and reaction forces associated with torque.
There are several benefits to using a Controlled Bolting method, not only does it increase efficiency across industries where time constraints are common, utilising measured Torque and Tension techniques maintains safety standards and ensures that these standards are kept consistent.
The consistency of bolted joints is crucial when dealing with joint integrity as any inconsistencies can alter or damage a bolting operation, resulting in catastrophic disasters. Using calibrated controlled bolting tools and accredited techniques provides reassurance that each bolted connection is correct and to a known value each time, eliminating the risk of errors.
Industry recognised training standards have been developed to ensure operators and technicians around the world are competent in operating the equipment in a safe manner and understand bolt load stresses. Human error affects joint integrity during the stages of assembly, tightening and loosening. Therefore, using Controlled Bolting methods leads to a ‘right-first-time’ approach to the management and integrity of the bolted joint.
To carry out any Controlled Bolting activity, technical training should be provided to ensure a safe operation. Following tragic events that have occurred in the oil and gas industry over recent decades, the health and safety standards have significantly improved and are now closely regulated.
Companies now offer additional resources for employees such as accredited training and improved technological knowledge to ensure standards are maintained and that consistency is kept across all controlled bolting operations.
HTL Group has lead the way in being Controlled Bolting specialists, offering Torque and Tension tools that are designed to provide the most innovative bolting tools on the market. As the industry demands efficiency and safety, the Group also provides a complete suite of accredited training for mechanical joint integrity. Achieving a true combination of the right tool and skill set for Controlled Bolting activities.