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Do You Ever Run Out of Bolts?
Posted by Ted Sheppard on February 8, 2012 at 1:20 PM.

Ted SheppardHow many jobs have you had where near the end you ran out of bolts of a certain length, or, simply ran out of bolts period? It is costly. You end up having a truck with 10 partially filled bolt containers, all with different lot numbers. And if you are working on a fully tensioned job, you will have to do a lot of pre-installation testing for a relatively small amount of bolts. You may also have been delayed in finishing due to availability and delivery schedules. Consequently, your customer will not be happy.

Bolt discipline is not easy unless you develop a system and follow it on every job from day one. Actually, it should start before you even get to the project site. Here are some tips on how to minimize coming up short on your projects:

  • Request bolt information from the fabricator in advance of shipment. You should request bolt summaries and point-to-point bolt lists. If “X” bolts are to be used, be sure that the entry information is on the erection diagrams. A rule of thumb is that the bolt should be entered from the clip side or the side of the thinnest exterior ply.
  • Make sure everyone has properly sized spud wrenches for the job. Make sure you have bolt bags available, not only for the bolters, but also for the raising gang. For distribution purposes you will need bolt baskets or some container that can hold bolts for several points at a time. 
  • Verify the training of the workers. Can they identify the components of a fastener assembly and are they familiar with the markings on bolt heads and nut faces? Are they aware of the hole sizes used for a given diameter of bolt? Do they know when washers are required? Can they determine the proper length of a bolt required by measuring the grip?
  • When you receive bolts, check the received material against the manifest. Check the manifest against the bolt summaries. Check for transit damage. Report all discrepancies as soon as possible. If replacement bolts are needed, get the ball rolling early in the game.
  • Record all lot numbers with bolt sizes (length and diameter) and quantities. Prepare fastener assemblies by lot combinations, if necessary, to be ready for the pre-installation verification testing. Have a sampling plan in place. Document the pre-installation verification testing. Request permission to re-use the pre-installation testing bolts in the structure (galvanized and A490 bolts may not be re-used under any
    circumstances). Verify that there are enough extra bolts by lot to perform the pre-installation verification testing. (Refer to the AISC Code of Standard Practice if the fabricator is not inclined to do so)
  • Determine if the rotational capacity test is required, and if it is, does it have to be done in the field?
    If it must be done and done in the field, prepare fastener assemblies for these tests and prepare forms for the documentation of the tests.

Repeat all of the above steps for each shipment of bolts that you receive. After you a receive shipment, proceed with the following tips:

  • After a shipment is received, put bolt cans or kegs in a storage location that is protected from the elements. Do not open a keg until that particular size is needed. Replace lids on cans after bolts have been removed.
  • Make sure the connectors have the correct bolts to put in place when hanging the iron.
    (Remember the bolt bags mentioned above?) Mark points in advance so that the bolters know what bolt goes where. Put bolts in bolt baskets or other containers so that there will be bolts for several points in the
    same area. Do not leave bolt baskets with bolts in them when it starts to rain or if a dust storm hits the job.
  • Near the end of the day, have someone police the area and pick up dropped bolts.
    Inspect these for damaged threads and clean and lubricate the threads where necessary. Do not leave the splines from TC bolts lying around on the iron. Pick up the splines from the ground or decked floors, and dispose of them.
  • If several bolt cans or kegs have been opened for a few days, check the lubrication and make sure that the bolts are in good shape. TC bolts can only be lubricated by the manufacturer or under its supervision. Normal lost bolt counts should be covered by the excess provided by the fabricator. If you have a system in place, there will be no wasted material and no original shortages from the supplier. It requires diligence and determination, but in the end, it will save you money.


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