The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming how we live, how we communicate, and how we perform our work. In barely a decade, IoT-enabled products have appeared in the marketplace at an accelerated rate. Home automation products such as security systems, smart appliances, and lighting-control systems are becoming standard fare in homes and commercial establishments. Retailers are using Bluetooth beacon technology to alert consumers to discounts, sales, events, or other information of interest to shoppers with smartphones when they're right in the store. Health and fitness devices that are IoT-enabled are seeing rapid adoption by not only fitness enthusiasts and triathlon "ironman" athletes, but also doctors, nurses, and patients as well. Moreover, IoT is changing manufacturing and production systems by enabling IT/OT convergence in order to obtain production efficiencies and quality control. Device vendors are also developing turnkey IoT solution kits for condition monitoring that easily connect to a wireless network and use cloud platforms to transform collected data into valuable business insights.
What about hand tools? In other words, the tools that workers use to build products or construct physical infrastructure. Are hand tools entering the mix of IoT-enabled products? The answer is yes.
But IoT-enabled hand tools still a are relatively new development in the IoT industry, but they promise to provide improved quality control in production and foster reduced downtime. (Take ourPoll: Are you presently using an Internet-connected hand tool? ) In this article, we will spotlight an IoT-enabled crimping tool by ABB, called the Smart® Tool+ to see how it works.
Problems Associated with Manual Crimping
Anyone who has used a manual crimping tool has usually experienced the typical problems associated with crimping. Selecting the right crimp terminal and applying the right pressure for your tool are just a few of them. Other problems associated with crimping include the crimp height being too small or large. Loose wire strands is another problem. Sometimes the wire is insert too far into the crimp terminal thereby impacting good conductivity. Excessive bending is yet another problem of manual crimping. In addition, industrial crimping tools uses dies, which limit your productivity unless you have all of the dies to suit your needs. When crimping operations are not securely fit, especially for power applications, safety, dependability, and reliability issues can arise. This is where an IoT-connected crimping tool can overcame these typical problems. Let's go through an example of an IoT-enabled crimping tool.
The ABB Smart® Tool + System
We have discussed how manual crimping tools have some inherent disadvantages. So, let’s dive into an IoT-enabled crimping tool to see how it overcomes them.
Overview: The ABB Smart® Tool + system crimps electrical connectors and provides proof (data) on crimp quality. The data can be shared with inspectors, facility owners, or used to enhance a manufacturing or construction organization’s quality management. The crimping action itself does not require an Internet connection; rather, the tool stores crimp data until the user is ready to transfer it. Once data is transferred, a mobile app saves the data until the user has can upload it to the cloud for permanent storage or sharing.
Description: The ABB Smart® Tool + is a dieless tool that’s able to crimp copper connectors from 3/0 AWG to 750 kcmil and aluminum connectors from 1/0 AWG to 600 kcmil. When used with ABB Smart™ Connectors (See next section), no additional data input or adjustment is needed. The tool recognizes connector size and material type and completes a crimp to the correct dimension. Pressure feedback is also used to ensure a good crimp. Crimp data is saved until it’s convenient for user to transfer it to the application program running on your mobile device.
Smart® Tool+ produces an indent-style crimp that's calibrated to the lug and wire through pressure sensing and preset indentation levels. The Smart® Tool’s sensors verify the correct compression. A green light illuminates to inform the user that a quality crimp has been achieved. Crimping data is logged into the tool’s data storage. If the crimp compression is incorrect, the tool alerts the user with a red light and reports the failed crimp to the database.
Smart™ Connectors: Smart™ connectors have a small RFID chip that enables the Smart® Tool + to identify the connector, and automatically adjust itself to determine the distance the crimper must travel. This eliminates the need to adjust the tool. Transferring data from the crimp tool is accomplished with software for Apple® or Android® tablets or phones. The mobile software also provides the capability to record crimp locations and torque used to fasten the connector to the electrical system, as well as the tools to upload the data to the cloud for sharing or long-term storage. The data can be downloaded to any computing device by Bluetooth, then uploaded to a secure cloud for permanent storage and retrieval.
Standard Color-Keyed® Lugs: The tool can also be used with standard Color-Keyed® lugs sized 3/0 AWG to 750 kcmil for copper and 1/0 AWG to 600 kcmil for aluminum. But it utilizes its full capabilities when used with the RFID-enabled Color-Keyed® lugs.
Data Analysis: Using software available in the Smart® Tool+ package, data can be analyzed and reported to job supervisors, quality control engineers or any other stakeholder who requires full reporting on electrical connections. Data is accessible from anywhere with either a standard computer or the mobile application software. A variety of reporting tools are available to search, view, and share data. When used with RFID-enabled lugs, the Smart® Tool+ provides a lot of information on each crimp, including the lug size, serial number, crimp pressure, indentation level, and whether it recorded a successful or failed crimp.
Compliance: Connections made with the Smart® Tool+ are UL-Listed to UL 486 A/B. A UL-compliant connection can be achieved with a single crimp on long- and short-barrel lugs and splices, unlike older systems that may require multiple crimps to achieve the same result.