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Health-conscious crimping

Employee health: less physical effort thanks to electrically-driven tools
It will often start off harmless: just a numb feeling in the thumbs, index and middle fingers during the night to begin with. But then later, pain and sensory disorders throughout the day occur too. The hand becomes less sensitive, the fine motor skills start to dwindle and the hand gets weaker.

Day-to-day tasks become increasingly difficult and certain professional activities are difficult or even impossible to accomplish. This is caused by what is known as carpal tunnel syndrome. A nerve in the hand is permanently trapped against a constricted area that is inflamed.

One suspected cause of this widespread condition is one-sided strain, which is often encountered in the electrical trade for example. There is a good case here for taking measures to guard against such conditions and prevent expensive employee absences. Choosing the right tool can help with this.
Reducing repetitive strain in your wrist joint and forearm
One of the most commonly recurring tasks in control cabinet construction is the crimping of conductors. This task is usually carried out using mechanical hand tools and in most cases, is completed without any problem at all. It can be become an issue, however, when it has to be carried out by employees on a recurring basis. With a manual force of up to 20 kilograms per roll-crimping, excessive strain in the wrist and forearm can occur over time.

One key factor is considered to be the number of crimping operations that are carried out on a regular basis. While a young and healthy employee who has not previously experienced excessive strain can easily achieve 100 to 150 roll-crimpings per day using a mechanical hand tool without their health being affected, the use of a tool with motorised drive is recommended for higher numbers of crimpings.

Leading manufacturers now recommend tools that allow work to be carried out much more comfortably with far less physical strain. The electromechanical crimping tool Klauke micro® with 10.8 V lithium-ion battery, for example, requires a manual force of just two kilograms per roll-crimping.
This means that the force that needs to come from the hand and forearm is around 90 percent less than that required for a tool operated purely by hand. “When we developed our electromechanical micro, the aim was to create a crimping tool that is easy to use and would allow ergonomic and health-promoting work, thereby combining the benefits of a manual crimping tool with the ease of a cordless one in a single device”, explains Lutz Remmel, Product Manager at Klauke.

To make the day-to-day tasks of a qualified electrician easier and benefit from the time-saving advantage, the selected tool should cover the broadest possible range of tasks possible. The electromechanical crimping tool from the previously mentioned manufacturer, for example, is able to process cable cross-sections from 0.14 to 50 square millimetres with a crimping force of up to 15 KN, with a long-term time saving compared to the mechanical crimping tool.

Because, in terms of the system concept, the tool is designed to take the interchangeable dies from Klauke’s 50 series, it is also suitable for crimping various cable connections, cable end sleeves, and also tubular cable lugs, solderless terminals and pin terminals. This not only makes the tool a versatile companion for control cabinet construction, but it is also gentle on the joints and allows consistently fast operations for numerous other manual and industrial applications.
The operating sequence is therefore always the same: first, the manual pre-clamping. When the operating lever is actuated without any effort, the crimping jaws close in order to fix the connecting material. During this particular step, the material can be precisely aligned and positioned. Another advantage over manual crimping.

In the second step, the roll-crimping is achieved by motive force. The operating lever simply needs to be drawn through completely and the tool automatically starts the crimping process, which takes no more than 1.5 seconds, depending on the material.

Once the roll-crimping has been made, the operating lever is released to initiate the return movement, also fully-automatic, into the original position.

Electro-mechanical crimping tools provide physical relief along with a number of other benefits: they not only achieve the best crimping results with minimum force, they also guarantee the consistently high quality of these results for years afterwards. This is because a suitable tool in faultless condition is crucial to avoiding under-crimpings and over-crimpings. Otherwise, the consequences are severe: incorrectly-made crimps can, for example, increase transition resistance which can in turn cause temperature rises and ultimately cable fires. When choosing a tool, simple and reliable operability is therefore the key to ensuring safety.







Getting your money's worth: when will the investment pay off?
Of course, when you make an investment you want to make sure it'll be profitable. The cost of a branded electromechanical crimping tool is around 180 euros, or more for a manual crimping tool. Any concerns about the durability and reliability of the electrical variant are unfounded. For its micro model, for example, Klauke states a long service life if the service intervals are maintained (at 35,000 press cycles). The tool is fitted with a multi-function-LED for maintenance display and data transmission, which can also be used to transfer crimp and tool data to a PC using a USB adapter from the accessories. Test reports showing date and time can readily be created as a PDF for recording completed crimping operations. An effective way of demonstrating a safe and correct working method. Purely mechanical manual crimping tools do not offer this option of displaying wear and creating documentation.

And also the lithium-ion batteries now used in most tools give no cause for concern. These energy sources conform to a perfected technical standard that applies today in practically all sectors in which rechargeable batteries are used. Lithium-ion batteries are set apart by short charging times without memory effect and a constant, uniform power output. The charging time for the battery installed in the Klauke tool is around 40 minutes. A fully-charged energy store, can then achieve some 300 crimpings on copper conductors with a cross-section of ten square millimetres according to DIN 46234. Despite this high efficiency, the total weight of the tool, including the battery, is just 960 grams.

Yet, a far more important factor for assessing profitability, is sustaining the employee’s physical strength. The cost of sick leave due to carpal tunnel syndrome, as described, tendinitis or tennis elbow, far outweigh those of procuring an electromechanical tool.
Conclusion
The decision to invest in an electromechanical crimping tool should be made according to economic calculations. For specialist operations in which large amounts of connecting material have to be processed quickly, purchasing such tools makes perfect sense. Mechanical crimping not only increases the efficiency of work processes, it also protects the health of employees. And since maintaining good health also means sustaining physical strength, an added investment such as this can benefit employer and employee in equal measure. Especially in light of demographic change and the lack of skilled workers this brings about, physical fitness has become an economically valuable asset which must be sustained for as long as possible.


At a glance:

  • With a manual force of up to 20 kilogrammes for each roll-crimping, excessive strain in the wrist and forearm can occur over time
  • Using tools that are easy to operate in order to facilitate ergonomic work  that protects your health
  • Electromechanical crimping tools provide physical relief along with the best crimping results and consistently high quality
  • Purchasing electromechanical crimping tools makes perfect sense for specialist operations