The significance of choosing the right assembly method might not become obvious until an application fails, and the fasteners are to blame. Granted, it’s one thing if a few books fall off of loose shelving. But when it’s a vehicle with loose tire lug nuts or a pressurized bolted flange joint assembly that begins to leak, the outcome might result in a major safety hazard.
Fasteners and bolted joints are critical to the safe operation of many types of equipment in applications including power generation, manufacturing, mining, and transportation. However, fasteners are typically one of the lowest cost items in any structure and are often the most neglected or last considered.
This is, perhaps, one reason fastener training is of low priority in most design and engineering programs. In some ways, this makes sense. Fastener manufacturing is a mature industry, and the majority of producers supply high-volume parts with single-digit defects. Only rarely are the fasteners at fault for failures.
“The vast majority of fastener-related problems arise from improper selection, specification, misuse, or installation,” shares John Wachman, managing director of the Fastener Training Institute (FTI), a non-profit launched by experienced industry professionals to provide fastener product training and continuing education. “But regardless of the cause, a fastener or joint failure can cost lives at worst or simply be a costly inconvenience.”
When designing, manufacturing, or installing the larger assembly, it’s important to avoid overlooking the smaller, critical components that hold it together.
“Fasteners can be simple components,” says Wachman. “Their complexity relates to the vast options that design engineers have when choosing the ideal components for an assembly.”
The wrong choice can lead to shorter product lifespan, poorer performance or failures, and increased labor costs for repairs or replacements.
To ensure fastener reliability and integrity, there are several factors to consider, including the:
- Material properties
- Temperature (minimums and maximums)
- Environmental conditions (humidity, moisture, gas, debris, etc.)
- Application stressors (vibration, dynamic loads, shock, etc.).
It’s advisable to choose fasteners that are made of higher quality than the parts that they will hold together. However, there are more questions to ask
For example: How many fasteners are required for a given application and to ensure the expected product life? What size, style, and equipment or tools are needed for proper assembly? Will the application need to be serviced and how often?
“There are many fastener options, such as the size, including the diameter and length, head style, drive, material, coatings, plus any quality requirements,” he points out. “The fastener industry is also quite innovative and without current knowledge or training, a superior fastener solution may be missed.”
This means that to ensure the safest, most productive, and cost-effective products and applications, updated and ongoing fastener education is essential.
Training that enhances the level of technical understanding and expertise of individuals in the industry is critical for a successful industry.
Look for a program that:
- Fully covers fastener products, standards, and specifications
- Teaches proper fastener selection and installation methods to prevent unnecessary faults and failures
- Is hosted by recognized industry experts with years of experience
- Offers hands-on training, when possible
Many fastener manufacturers will offer online or in-person training sessions for customers, as do most standards’ organizations — such as the Industrial Fasteners Institute (IFI), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), etc.
Here are some choices…
Fastener Training Institute. FTI provides comprehensive, beginning and advanced training on fastener products, standards, and specifications — with full-day and week-long classes (their Fastener Training Week is an industry mainstay).
“FTI’s core purpose is to enhance fastener use, reliability, and safety by providing fastener product and technical training at all levels,” says Wachman. They also offer live webinars and have an extensive On-Line Training Library. FTI often partners with IFI for its training events.
FastenerClass. A global manufacturer of mechanically attached fasteners, PennEngineering is offering an opportunity to learn from the leading experts in fastening technology via FastenerClass — and at no charge.
The customized training sessions are designed to give attendees actionable insights from industry experts who cover theory, best practices for fastener selection, application examples, and more.
Participants will also learn how to test and confirm fastening designs with support from PennEngineering’s PEMedge services, which supports exploring and testing alternative fastening solutions available to design engineers. The aim is to find innovative ways to improve cost, assembly time, strength, weight, and aesthetics.
The HYTORC Bolting Institute (HBI). HBI has the goal to educate all those engaged in industrial bolting to significantly improve the safety, quality, and efficiency of bolting operations. HBI regularly delivers technical certificate training classes for a variety of job functions — from operators and technicians to managers and engineers.
HBI also offers regularly scheduled online public short classes, which are brief, non-certificate classes. HYTORC partners with ASME and OSHA to provide standardized technical training that maximizes the educational value for each participant.
The Würth Fastener Academy. This Academy is tailored specifically for its audience. Würth provides in-person training at a company’s facility, with an engineering team that offers real-world experience and insights. Attendees will learn answers to the complex questions that often come up when dealing with the broad spectrum of fasteners, as well as cost-savings methods and options.
Course objectives include torque-tension, corrosion and fastener finishes, manufacturing processes, fastener materials and mechanical properties, thread inspection, standards, and more.
Keep in mind… training that enhances the level of technical understanding and expertise of individuals in the industry is critical for a successful industry.