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Benefits of Panasonic Assembly Tools

With a push towards "ECO" & "Go Green", manufacturing is looking to reduce energy costs and reduce CO₂ Emissions. Panasonic is playing a role in helping manufacturers save money and reduce CO₂ Emissions by assisting in the replacement of air tools with more efficient cordless tools. Below is an excerpt from the Compressed Air Challenge showing just how inefficient a compressed air tool is to run.

"Compressed air is one of the most expensive sources of energy in a plant. The over-all efficiency of a typical compressed air system can be as low as 10%-15%. For example, to operate a 1-horsepower (hp) air motor at 100 pounds per square inch gauge (psig), approximately 7-8 hp of electrical power is supplied to the air compressor." quoted from www.compressedairchallenge.org Compressed Air Tip Sheet #1

The reduction of energy usage is important and a major reason why manufacturers are converting air tools to cordless tools. Looking at the bigger picture energy savings is only a small part of the benefits for running Panasonic Assembly Tools. Cordless tools offer a safer work environment, increased product quality, flexibility, reduced installation cost and lower maintenance costs. We take pride in our efforts to assist manufacturers in understanding the benefits of cordless tools through examples.

Compressed Air Cost & CO2 Emissions

Over the last decade there has been an increase in understanding how much compressed air really costs. Manufacturers are going as far as separating the electrical cost to run the air compressors from the rest of the plant because it is so expensive. When comparing air tools to cordless tools we’ve found and show in our example application that an air tools costs 37 times that of a cordless assembly tool, that’s a 96% savings in electrical cost.

Example:

Lets' take a look at additional compressor savings first. Other than energy savings from reduced air usage; if a plant removes the compressed air line from the station back to the header, also removing the FRL, any leaks will be eliminated that may have been inline increasing the amount of savings. However, if a manufacturer were to leave the pressurized hose and FRL connected to the header there would most likely be leaks, small but wasted energy. In our example (click here to view) we calculated just how much that small leak could cost per year. Assuming a perfect air compressor for just the air tool and a 20% leak rate (per www.compressedairchallenge.com) we calculated a $215.00/yr cost just to keep up with the leaks.

The whole cause and effect takes place when a plant reduces their energy usage it also reduces the CO2 Emissions at the electrical plant. The example shows that by replacing an air tool with a cordless tool and eliminating the leaks by removing the hose and FRL can save $480.97 per year in electrical cost. That savings equates to a reduction of 5.16 Tons of CO2.

Safety

A reduction in electrical cost isn't the only advantage for switching to cordless tools. Panasonic’s Assembly Tools also create a safer work environment through the elimination of air hoses which can be a potential trip hazard, a cleaner environment by reducing contaminated compressed air from being released into the plant and improved ergonomics with tools that offer virtually no torque reaction reducing injuries.

The focus on plant safety has continued to increase over the last decade. Manufacturing increased their concern and safety of their employees due to a better understanding of costs per injury. Panasonic's light weight mechanical pulse tools offer little to no torque reaction up to 100nm creating excellent ergonomics therefore reducing operator fatigue and the potential of injury due to rotational torque.

Every facility has some sort of trip hazards and compressed air hoses lying on the ground make for the perfect accident just waiting to happen. Using cordless assembly tools eliminates air hoses and/or cables from lying on the ground reducing injuries in the plant.

Plant air quality is another growing concern. An air tools exhaust is expelled in close proximity of the operator releasing oil vapors, water vapors, rust, pollen, mold, dust and other contaminants ingested by the air compressor. These contaminants linger in the air which we breathe and can potentially cause health concerns. Eventually the contamination falls onto the floor where it could build up and possibly cause an employee to slip and fall.

Cordless tools can reduce ergonomic issues, eliminate trip hazards due to air lines, provide a cleaner atmosphere creating happier employees, more throughput and increased profits.

Quality

In addition, cordless tools can improve quality through controlling the power delivered to the motor and monitoring the battery which prevents under torques giving repeatable and accurate torques. Whereas compressed air systems can fluctuate in pressure causing inconsistent torques even when using a FRL.

An air compressors' controls can fluctuate up to 10 psi causing a change in output torque even when used with a regulator. Additionally, the compressed air piping system can play a role in pressure drops too. For instance, if the required CFM is greater than the amount of available CFM flow do to piping size restrictions then the pressure drops at the tool also causing inconsistent torques. Panasonic’s assembly tools correct this issue with an onboard processor. The tool monitors the battery and disables the tool when the battery is low to prevent under torques, therefore increasing repeatability and quality output of the manufactured product.

Quality issues are not limited to the fastening process; components of the tools can cause mutilations to the manufactured products too. Just think, as an air hose is drug on the floor through the dust, pollen, oil and water contamination it builds up a film and when the operator works on the interior the hose slides across the carpeting leaving the buildup behind. Or imagine as the operator walks by a vehicle the air hose or cable accidently drags across the fresh paint and leaves marks causing another type of issue.

Cordless assembly tools provide an additional sense of security. By eliminating the air hose an operator is less likely to accidently scratch the paint, dirty up the interior and they provide a cleaner work area. The outcome to using cordless assembly tools is a consistent high quality manufactured product.

Flexibility

Cordless tools provide the operator freedom to position the tool in the best ergonomic manner verse an air tool which can be limited due to the air hose touching product or the fixture. However, flexibility doesn’t just stop at the operator. What about the ease of moving an assembly process, cordless tools make it easy.

Why restrict an operator from being able to ergonomically hold the tool to install fasteners? Air hoses and cables restrict operators from properly holding the tool caused by an obstruction limiting access or the hose is stretched and only allows the tool to be held in one direction. Cordless tool allow the freedom of positioning and movement giving it the best ergonomics. Easily carry the light weight tool in and out of a vehicle’s interior or into the fuselage of an airplane without any restrictions.

Need to move a process to another station, no problem. Easily move a cordless tool by unplugging the charger, transfer the tool and charger to the desired location, plug in the charger and start running the products again. In comparison an air tool may require a work order to be created to begin moving a process. Then a pipe fitter or maintenance technician would have to review the request, figure out the necessary tools, obtain the tools, shut-off the compressed air line, remove the tool, undo the air line, remove the FRL, transfer the FRL, hose and tool to the new line, possibly install new piping if an air drop doesn’t already exist, reinstall the FRL, plumb the air hose into the FRL and reconnect the tool.

Downtime Recovery
Downtime is very costly, however cordless tools help diminish the amount of lost production time. Cordless tools can be quickly swapped out and run off batteries.

Cordless tools work independently from each other and can continue to be used during a power outage until the batteries are used completely. If a cordless tool experiences problems, it is removed from the line and immediately replaced with minimum inconvenience to the operator and the assembly line. If a battery fails, just replace it before the other battery is used up, no loss in production.

Sometimes air tools require tools for swapping out or special fittings increasing the time needed to replace a tool, increased downtime. Recovering from a failed tool is one thing; recovering from a shutdown air compressor is another. Look at all the components that an air tool requires to work; air compressor, dryers, piping, filters and lubricators. It only takes one of these to fail and downtime starts.

Maintenance
Engineered to be virtually maintenance free, Panasonics' assembly tools only require a dab of grease on the mechanical pulse and anvil. There’s no oil to change, vanes to wear out, orings to fail or individual ball bearings to be lost.

Maintenance costs appear from every direction and some are ongoing while others are a one-time cost. For example an ongoing cost for air tools is replenishing the lube in the FRL. There is quite the cost associated to maintaining an FRL; lube, labor to order the lube, labor time to check the FRL’s and labor to refill the FRL not to mention the repercussions to what happens when the FRL’s aren’t maintained, tool failure. A one-time cost for a cordless tool might be the battery after years of service and if you were thinking brushes, Panasonic’s Assembly Tools are brushless.

Repairing tools is another maintenance cost. Several tool manufactures require special tools to conduct repairs such as a vacuum unit for pulse tools to change the oil which is labor intensive. Panasonics cordless assembly tools only require a #1 or #2 phillips screw drivers and some special inexpensive grease to conduct the maintenance on the entire assembly tool product line. Carefully designed, all of the electrical connections are solder less making it virtually plug n play if a component was to fail. A hybrid switch allows current from the battery to run directly to the motor bypassing the trigger eliminating start issues and worn out contacts. Panasonic utilizes their own battery technology and run high capacity li-ion batteries. These non-memory retaining, 3.0Ah batteries are some of the longest running assembly tool batteries in the market.

Installation Cost
Since it's a cordless tool, installation is a cinch, just locate a 110V power source for the charger, set the tool to the desired torque and start production. On the other hand, compressed air requires labor for installation, materials and regular preventative maintenance for the FRL, find / repair air leaks.

Take a look at the whole picture when reviewing installation costs. In almost every station, 110V is required for something within the work cell and our battery chargers only use a little over an amp (less than 10% of a standard 15 amp circuit) during the charge cycle. Since the increase in electrical components, (like electric cylinders) stations no longer require compressed air. Labor costs running the header over to the workstation, dropping a line down to the machine, plumbing in an FRL and connecting the air tool is very time extensive not to mention the cost renting a lift and all the piping components. Looking back, you may see cordless tools have greater flexibility and significantly reduce installation costs.

Saving money through reducing electrical usage, helping the environment, increasing safety, improving quality throughput, cutting maintenance expenses and minimizing installation are all small advantages of using Panasonic Assembly Tools adding up to a large savings. Please try our Energy Savings Calculator to see how much your plant can save by switching to Panasonic Cordless Tools. Throughout this article we showed some of the examples we’ve uncovered over the years. In passing this information along we hope that you to will find not only energy savings but additional indirect savings by running Panasonic Cordless Assembly Tools. We enjoy hearing your story, email us at panasonicassemblytools@us.panasonic.com.