Quick-connect plumbing system
Legend Boats has been manufacturing high-quality fiberglass bass boats since 2002. For the first few years, the company was using traditional hose clamps for plumbing its boats. Maneuvering hoses, clamps, and crimping tools in these dark and confined areas proved to be a challenge for assembly workers.
These clamps also gave boat owners a difficult time when performing plumbing maintenance. Hoses were accidently cut in these tight spaces when clamps were being removed. If the clamps were detached without damage to the hose, they did not go back on easily. "Clamps were stripped when the user applied too much torque," Kevin Hyde, inventory control and new development for Legend Boats, told us. "The damaged clamp would then need replacement."
About six years ago, Legend Boats started using a quick disconnect plumbing system called Qwik-Lok made by Flow-Rite Controls. Qwik-Lok sockets are installed on to hose ends, while Qwik-Lok fittings replace standard barb fittings. With the socket's locking ring in the neutral position, the end of the flexible hose is pushed on to the fitting without crimping or tightening. After the socket snaps in place, the locking ring is pushed into the latched and locked position. When separating, the same locking ring is simply pulled to the unlocked position. The latches will automatically open and free the hose.
Qwik-Lok sockets can be pre-installed on to hose sections at a bench and then snapped into place at the site. Hoses are able to swivel with the sockets, relieving stress from pump outlets and other fittings. Labor and parts are further reduced, since silicone and other sealants at hose connections are eliminated. For large-scale OEMs, Flow-Rite offers pre-assembled hose sections and kits.
Legend Boats has seen a significant time savings in its boat assembly thanks to the quick connect plumbing. "Plumbing used to take about 45 minutes with the old style clamps," said Hyde. "It has been reduced to 20 minutes with the quick connects. The operation is simple -- just plug and play."
Legend's customers are also benefitting from the Qwik-Lok. When cleaning debris from plumbing or replacing broken screens, boat owners can quickly disconnect hoses without tools. "It used to be that when a customer ordered a replacement pump, it was almost guaranteed that they would also need new clamps and hose for their boat," said Hyde. "Now we rarely send out replacement hose and sockets." This user-friendly system really comes in handy when the plumbing runs under the gas tanks. "Sometimes if hoses are damaged during boat maintenance and need to be replaced, the gas tanks that can hold up to 40 gallons need to be siphoned."
Whether the need is to restrict flow or improve hose connections, ensuring that fluid handling tools are user-friendly is essential for furthering company efficiency and customer satisfaction. Time should be taken to research options that promote a more manageable operation.
Bridget Haley is a marketing associate at Flow-Rite Controls.