As one of the leading manufacturers of tightening and assembly tools which are also used in the automotive industry, Atlas Copco took a closer look at e-mobility and its effects on future production processes. Based on comprehensive field tests, three potential risk areas and accident scenarios linked to assembly of electric vehicle batteries have been identified.
The operator makes direct contact with live components. If properly insulated tools and equipment are not used, voltages of 120 V DC upwards may result in extremely severe injury and possibly death.
The second risk is posed by direct shorting of the battery cells; in other words, contact is established between live components via non-insulated tools. Such short-circuits may result in arcing, gassing, fire and explosions. These pose a tremendous risk for the operator as well as for the materials and equipment used.
A third risk is the short-circuiting of live components with grounded tools. If at least two grounded tools are used at the same time, contact with two battery poles may lead to a short-circuit. The risks involved are the same as those described for the first two scenarios above.
The well-thought-out design of the insulating covers consists of a non-conductive composite and a two-part shell structure that can be simply clipped to the electric tool. With an additional rubber ring and a front cap, tools used in the assembly process are effectively insulated and protected. This way, short-circuits caused by accidental contact between the metal angle head and live components can be avoided.
In the course of the development of the insulation tool covers, it became clear that a holistic solution would also call for special isolation of the sockets. In order to prevent direct contact with live components and short circuits with grounded tools and batteries (see scenarios 1 and 3), Atlas Copco Tools therefore developed two further product innovations: isolated sockets and Quick Change Adapters. Both solutions provide isolation both in axial and radial direction, ensuring maximum process and user safety.
Even though a single applicable standard for isolated sockets is not yet available, the applicable sections of DIN EN IEC 60900:2018 and ASTM F1505 were investigated and various tests were identified to ensure the mechanical strength and electric isolating properties of the sockets. For example, the dielectric test was carried out and confirmed both by VDE (Verband der Elektrotechnik Elektronik Informationstechnik e.V.) and by the Intertek laboratory.
The successful completion of the VDE tests means that we are allowed to use the double triangle symbol in accordance with DIN EN IEC 60900:2018 on our isolated sockets and Quick Change Adapters.
Intensive testing was also carried out internally. This includes for example durability, indentation and flammability tests. Furthermore also impact test has been performed with excellent results.
Thanks to a composite core the isolated sockets and quick change adapters provide isolation in axial direction to completely delete any electric conductivity between bolt and tool when tightening. In addition the isolated sockets and quick change adapters are insulated in radial direction by free rotating sleeves. Featuring the same rotating sleeves our ROTACTION safety sockets can be combined with the isolated quick change adapters. This caters for a fully integrated system which helps protect from both electric shocks and from gloves getting entangled.
So the isolated quick change adapters have been developed as a modular system to be used in combination with a major part of our ROTACTION range of sockets and bits. To ensure a complete radial insulation when using ROTACTION sockets with isolated quick change adapters, easy to install insulated socket covers are available and must be used at any time.
Dielectric tests of the non-conductive composite used for electrical insulation were carried out in axial and radial direction at 10,000 V DC.
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