Cordless Tools Ensure Quality, Improve Ergonomics on Golf Cart Assembly Line

 

Electric vehicles may be all the rage now among automotive manufacturers, but golf car makers have been using the technology since the early 1950s. Specifically, the Marketeer Co. first began producing electric cars in Redlands, CA, in 1951. By the late 1950s, other companies entered the market, including Club Car Inc. in 1958.

Sixty years later, Club Car LLC is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of small-wheel, electric vehicles. The company also makes gas-engine-powered cars and hundreds of accessories that let golfers customize their cars.

Club Car operated as an independent company until it was purchased in 1978 by eight former executives of golf-car rival EZGO. The company was sold again in 1995 to Ingersoll Rand (IR). Interestingly, assemblers at Club Car’s Augusta, GA, plant had been using IR’s air- and DC-powered precision screwdrivers and angle wrenches long before the acquisition.

They continued to use these tools for many more years because of their error-proofing capabilities.

In 2016, however, management replaced them with cordless QX Series tools from IR to improve worker productivity and safety.

The tools are compact, lightweight and ergonomically designed so assemblers can work comfortably without the constraint of air hoses or power cords. With increased freedom, assemblers more easily work in tight spaces and reach certain fasteners on the cars they are assembling. This is particularly true for two-handed tasks, when the operator needs to hold the power tool in one hand and a wrench in the other to install the fastener.

Fastener access is also improved in a special staging area for cars that have already been assembled. There, workers attach canopies to cars, customize cars to meet customer requirements, refurbish fleet vehicles and perform rework to correct minor quality problems. Since the area is located outside the factory, it cannot be accessed with conventional pneumatic or
electric tools.

Unlike standard corded hand tools, the QX series features several advanced technologies, including:

  • A closed-loop transducer control that delivers precise torque and accurate, traceable results.
  • A multifunction display module that allows for quick setup and feedback on every tool.
  • Eight user-programmable configurations for torque, angle and speed.
  • A wireless communications system that integrates tools into a factorywide network and enables configuration adjustments remotely and in real time.

Overall, nearly 50 of these tools are used at the Augusta plant, which encompasses 400,000 square feet and produces several hundred cars per day on four assembly lines. Lean manufacturing is emphasized throughout the plant, along with product quality.

The cordless tools enhance quality by reducing variance so that more fasteners are installed correctly the first time. In addition, software in the tools automatically counts fasteners as they are installed, ensuring traceability and reducing liability. If a fastener is missed, the tool notifies the user, and the issue is addressed before it becomes a quality problem.

Plant managers say that Club Car assemblers love QX tools because they increase worker flexibility and eliminate the overhead hazards of hanging air tools that inevitably lead to bruised foreheads. Another benefit is assemblers can now easily talk to each other on the line because the tools operate so quietly.

For more information on cordless fastening tools, call 704-655-4000 or visit www.ingersollrandproducts.com.