Is Proper Torquing Part of Your Standard Work?

Bob Schindler

Read enough original equipment manufacturer (OEM) recommended procedures and you will notice that a common thread is proper torque values for fasteners. Many standard work (and standard operating) procedures in industrial facilities list recommended or required torque values for jobs like gasket replacements, motor alignments, bearing installations and gearbox rebuilds, yet we often see technicians performing these functions without torque wrenches on the jobsite. Availability and management reinforcement both play a major role here. Both need to be addressed.

Availability is the first to attack since you can’t very well require a technician to use a torque wrench if none are available. If you list torque values on your procedures but don’t have torque wrenches available, you lose credibility with your technicians. The impression is that the procedures are just paper and don’t have to be taken seriously. This can be very bad long term because you use your procedures to capture and promote good practices. If they are not read or followed, you lose the advantages of standard work and retained experience.

Easily accessible torque wrenches must be provided to get maximum value from your procedures. If you have good luck with shop tools returning home, a couple of each range should be stored where everyone can get to them. If they tend to grow feet, issuing a couple of wrenches to selected technicians may be the answer. A combination is probably the best of both worlds.

The day-to-day activities like flange tightening can be handled by cheaper standard-range wrenches issued to technicians, while specialty jobs would list and require the use of more expensive calibrated wrenches. These should be tested periodically by the manufacturer to ensure proper torque on equipment with specific torque values required by OEM procedures.

Management reinforcement is the second part of the equation. Without management encouraging and requiring the use of torque wrenches, human nature says that it probably won’t happen. Most technicians take pride in their work and want to do the best job possible, so a little encouragement is probably all they need. That encouragement is making the proper tool available, listing the recommended torque values on the procedures and talking up the value of properly torquing fasteners. The enforcement part comes into play for the small percentage of technicians who don’t have that inherent pride of workmanship.

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