A new line of NeoTek smart tools includes a nutrunner that is lighter, more durable and more efficient
About six years ago, Cleco set out to totally redesign its line of corded DC electric nutrunners. The company subsequently launched the result – a new line of smart tools called NeoTek. According to William Cain, director of global engineering services at Cleco Production Tools, Cleco engineers conducted a “voice of the customer world tour” to collect feedback to inform the redesign. The company used its rapid prototyping capabilities to test various designs for the tool, handles and triggers.
This attention to detail and customer feedback shows in this new range of assembly tools, as they feature significant improvements in terms of reliability, durability and ease of use. The tool and controller are highly configurable, designed to be ergonomic and can run a million cycles without any maintenance.
“We designed these new tools to improve the operator’s experience and exceed industry standards,” says Michael Sandy, product specialist with Cleco Production Tools. “The tool body is light and smooth, with a handle designed to have multiple controls without being inconvenient to the operator.”
Nearly every aspect of the tool was reworked, including the controllers and the cables. The nutrunner can now last two to three times longer than previous Cleco corded electric nutrunner models. According to NeoTek, this can result in approximately 100 fewer downtime hours and estimated total savings of $5,000 per tool.*
The new tool and cable system are 21% lighter than the previous model from Cleco, and the cable alone is 50% lighter.
The new line also features internal temperature monitoring, onboard tool and cable memory to enable data logging and preventative maintenance alerts. These features can increase a product’s life, increase the efficiency of maintenance schedules and reduce downtime.
“NeoTek will allow businesses to significantly increase their return on investment,” says Bob Heisner, global vice-president of marketing for Cleco Production Tools. “Solutions that improve productivity and decrease system and maintenance costs are in high demand.”
NeoTek corded electric assembly tools are highly accurate and have a capability of 2.0, ±7 percent, as measured by Cm and Cmk indexes, which helps to increase process reliability and repeatability, and reduce scrap. The head is configurable in 30-degree increments, while the drive system is made up of spiral-cut bevel gears.
In addition, the tool’s handle has visual, audible and tactile feedback capabilities that can help increase the accuracy of a rundown. It features four ultra-bright LED light rings that wrap around the tool and are designed to be easily visible. Having the LED lights directly on the tool eliminates the need for the operator to take their eyes off of the workpiece to check the light stack.
With the default settings, the green light indicates an acceptable rundown and the red light means an unacceptable rundown. The blue LED indicates that the tool is in operation or that the spindle is rotating. The yellow light doesn’t have a default setting, but users can program it according to their needs.
In fact, all the lights are fully programmable from the controller. They can be set to alert the operator if the angle is too low or too high, when the workpiece enters the workstation through the use of a proximity sensor and more. It’s also possible to choose to turn on the tool’s other notification systems, including the optional auditory and handle vibration alerts.
The handle also includes a two-position start switch that is rated for 4m cycles and is configurable. It also has several other configurable buttons that can be used to control various functions. The switches are non-contacting and designed to last a long time.
Hybrid controllerThe Cleco mPro400GC-Hybrid Controller is designed to make all of these features easy to use. It features a large touchscreen and a user-friendly interface. In addition to being able to program directly from the unit, users can do this remotely from a PC with a licence-free software program. The software user interface architecture is also configurable.
The controller is both analog and digital, and supports legacy Cleco corded electric tools models, including the 17, 47, 67, 18 and 48 series, as well as the company’s LiveWire cordless tools. If using a 67 series tool, it is no longer necessary to have an isolation transformer: one controller with up to 16 corded or cordless tools is possible. The controller has compliance certifications for IEC, UL, CSA, CE and EAC.
To enable easy integration into manufacturing environments, the controller supports industry-standard protocols and fieldbus communication, and can readily integrate with the Cleco Software Suite, as well as other workstation torque and process management solutions. It can also connect to smart accessories, such as socket trays and stack lights. According to Cleco, the controller is designed to exceed requirements for Industry 4.0 technologies. The controller also features a galvanic isolated power supply.
The product line includes three design variations: a right-angle, inline and pistol-grip tool
The cord uses a quarter-turn twist-lock connector, which eliminates the possibility of damaged threads, a problem that occurred with the previous model’s screw-on connectors and one of the leading causes of cable failure. The quarter-turn technology is an industry-first, reducing downtime and the need for spares. The cable has various markings to help operators ensure that it is properly connected. According to Cleco, the new cable has more than double the life of the previous cable model. Cleco has a wide range of cable lengths up to 45 metres available.
The product line includes three design variations: right-angle, inline and pistol-grip tools. The right-angle and inline tools are available in 30, 50 and 70 series, while the pistol-grip tool is an option in 30 and 50 series.
For the inline tool, the lowest torque range is 0.9 to 4.7 pounds-feet (ft-lb), and the highest is 213 to 850 ft-lb. The lowest speed is 125 and the highest is 4,275 revolutions per minute (r/min). For the right-angle tool, the lowest torque range is 1.3 to 6 ft-lb and the highest is 88 to 350 ft-lb. The lowest speed is 250 and the highest is 2,925 r/min. For the pistol-grip tool, the lowest torque range is 0.9 to 4.7 ft-lb and the highest is 25 to 123 ft-lb. The lowest speed is 455 and the highest is 4,275 r/min.
There are a total of 19 models of inline tool, 15 models of right-angle tool and 11 models of pistol-grip tool, plus various cable lengths and accessories. There are plenty of options to choose from, which is why Cleco provides a free demo to find the best one to fit all users’ needs.
Sandy says, “There is some torque overlap between some models. Which to choose depends on your torque and speed requirements.” It’s also possible to add numerous optional accessories to the tool, including a two-hand start switch, work light, gyroscope camera, location module and scanner for added functionality.