Smart fasteners have been around since at least 2007. At the time, they were a new class of mechanical devices, with embedded electronics and sensors to report their status and that of their immediate environment. They allow unlocking, remote closing, and locking of fasteners via wireless handhelds and let maintenance workers quickly access maintenance panels and aircraft equipment without the use of tools. Their status reporting features mean they can be used for smart logistics and in vehicle diagnostic systems.
Now Hilti, a Texas-based tool, technology, software and services supplier to the commercial construction industry, has launched connected, smart fasteners that enable unique identification and digital documentation on the jobsite. The Tracefast technology was announced in Las Vegas at the World of Concrete trade show.
The fasteners document every anchor, screw, and bolt using a data matrix code (DMC) that includes instructions for use, approvals, and technical data. A 25-digit ID reveals batch and item numbers so fasteners can be traced to their manufacturer.
The Connect App scans via smartphone, permitting visualization of installed fastener details. Tracefast leverages IoT and provides a new level of control and digital access to relevant setting instructions, training, and inspection documents and certifications. The traceable fasteners also enable digitization of the manual documentation process.
“As IoT transforms the construction industry, our product portfolio will continue to expand and shape possibilities for broader applications and services,” said Muthu Manohar, Senior Director of Fastening & Protection at Hilti North America. “The anchor identification … paves the way for increasing jobsite productivity across the application chain, helps provide traceability from design and ordering to installation, and eventually ‘smarter’ products.”
In recent years, Hilti has made major investments to digitize the construction industry and simplify workflow for contractors by creating smart tools, an asset management system, and advanced layout tools. The technology not only documents the kinds of fasteners that have been installed, but when they’ve been installed and whether documentation is available.