Taking a closer look at torque tooling requirements
Whether connecting a blowout preventer on a drilling rig or installing a bundle for a heat exchanger in a refinery turnaround, one of the last, and most critical, steps in completing the work is to torque the fasteners on the flanged connections. The likely tool available is a hydraulic torque wrench, but as most industry technicians know, these tools are slow and can present safety and environmental challenges.
There is a new option to place in your hands, however, that will reliably apply torque faster and safer, and in the process save money - and this tool is designed specifically for the oil and gas industry. The SpinTORQ Continuous Rotation Torque Wrench from Snap-on is the only continuously spinning, low profile torque wrench on the market and is 80 percent faster than ratcheting hydraulic wrenches. SpinTORQ is a good example of Snap-on's commitment to product innovation in torque products for the oil and gas industries.
What makes the SpinTORQ different from competing hydraulic torque wrenches is found in its name. With continuous rotation, the tool finds a reaction point when energized and is securely in place until the tool stalls. This design feature increases safety compared to hydraulic ratcheting wrenches which must re-establish the reaction point each time the cylinder retracts.
Sometimes it's necessary to hold the wrench upside down to apply torque. The advantage SpinTORQ has over a hydraulic ratcheting wrench is that it locks on to the nut once and runs until it stops; the SpinTORQ won't fall off the nut once the tool is energized - which increases safety. Holding the ratcheting hydraulic wrench in the upside-down position increases the likelihood that the technician's fingers will find their way into the reaction area each time the wrench strokes forward.
Safety concerns around hydraulic torque wrenches are minimized, as the SpinTORQ is pneumatically-powered. Hydraulic torque wrenches often operate up to 10,000 psi. A small pin hole in a hose or a blown fitting seal can release a dangerous flow of hydraulic fluid that can severely injure a technician. The SpinTORQ operates at a safe 92 psi-maximum air pressure. It also features a secondary safety trigger that requires the technician's hands to be placed away from pinch points during operation. This eliminates the need for a second technician as the "button man" typically required for hydraulic torque wrench operation. Giving control of the tool to the same technician placing the tool on the nut greatly reduces the possibility of injuries.
Another tool improving safety in critical oil and gas applications is the portable Snap-on AutoTORQ Hydraulic Chain Pipe Wrench. The AutoTORQ is designed for making up and breaking out threaded pipe connections, which replaces adjustable pipe wrenches, manual tongs and other high-risk methods for performing these tasks. The AutoTORQ's advantage break out work is that it's a safer and faster alternative to hands-on use of adjustable pipe wrenches or tongs. With the tool doing the work, the technician remains hands-free. AutoTORQ can accommodate pipe diameters from 1" to 14" in five models and can provide a maximum torque output of 83,000-foot pounds. AutoTORQ is activated with a relatively low 6,000 psi hydraulic system.
The functionality of these two tools are good examples of Snap-on's commitment to taking the "old" way of doing things and modernizing them with new designs that are safer and more productive. Some tool suppliers are following this roadmap by redesigning their torque product line to make improvements in areas such as ergonomics, safety and performance - all to the betterment of technicians and the industry as a whole.
While torque tooling upgrades are now appearing on jobsites, some people may be resistant to embracing change, and that's understandable. Companies and technicians alike are brand loyal and may feel improvements alone aren't enough to get them to switch and try something new. However, when you combine product improvements along with breadth of product line, there's a stronger case to be made in at least reviewing other brands.
Snap-on has assumed a leading role in torque by not only offering a deep tooling product offering, but possessing industry knowledge to identify and recommend the right solution for your specific oil and gas application. Suppliers that focus their product line in more specialized areas may lack the insight and tooling solutions for other applications and maintenance requirements - leaving you to deal with multiplier suppliers. In the long run, you'll be better suited partnering with a supplier that knows your pain points, knows the oil and gas industry and can proactively work with you to identify the best tools for your torque requirements, as well as tools for your other maintenance needs.
You know more than anyone that oil and gas are critical industries that play vital roles in keeping global economies going strong. Oil and gas companies are visible in the public and depend on strong public relations to maintain credibility and trust for all vested parties.
That's why the stakes are very high; having a major equipment failure just isn't an option in these arenas. To help eliminate that threat of failure, you need the right tools in your hands to get the job done right the first time...and every time.
Snap-on is keeping pace by incorporating technology and new designs to aid in the safety, reliability and performance of torque tools. Take a look at our entire product offering and industry knowledge, and see what we bring to the table. It might be worth your while.
Bill Washington is the Director of Business Development, Bolting Solutions, Snap-on Industrial. For more information, visit www.fastorq.com.