From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Quick Releases and Disconnects

Dan MacLeod, CPE, MA, MPH

Intro1 Intro2
Screw clamp: Slow, forceful Quick release: Fast, easy

Principles affected

Related pages


Quick releases and disconnects have multiple advantages over traditional fasteners:

  • Production point of view — faster
  • Employee well-being — fewer motions and typically less force

Whenever feasible, quick releases should be the preference.


Reduce force and motions.

Ideas and Options

Lightweight (standard)

Screwclamp1 Screwclamp2
Before: Screw clamps After: Quick releases

Light-weight quick releases (or “toggle clamps) are common throughout industry. However, it is also common to find additional applications where quick releases could be used to great advantage. The photos above show a set of clamps, before and after.

Bicycle1 Bicycle2
Bicycle tire quick release Bicycle quick release in manufacturing

One of the most common types of quick releases is the bicycle tire clamp. In the photo above right, an enterprising employee adapted a bicycle clamp to use in a workplace fixture.

Mid-sized clamps

Mid-sized: Subtantial holding power

Larger quick releases are also available, but less common, perhaps because of a misperception that quick releases are not sufficiently robust. However, normally, a quick release can be as strong as is needed for the task.

Fixture1 Fixture2
Quick release incorporated into a fixture

The example above shows how a quick release can be incorporated into a fixture. The closing hook can be designed as strong as is needed. Likewise, the lever handle can be strenghtened if needed.

Heavy duty clamps

Heavy duty quick releases (left) compared to traditional bolts (right)

The quick releases in the example above hold as much pressure as the bolts. Yet the quick releases are considerably easier to open plus do not require an additional tool.

Huge (ship) release

Ship1 Ship2
Traditional bollard Modern bollard with quick release

The term “quick release” sometimes suggests something small.  However, this example shows that there is no limit to the size and strength of a quick release.

Traditionally, when docking a ship, sailors would throw a hawser (the heavy rope) to dockworkers, who would pull the looped end over a bollard.  If the hawser was ever dropped in the water, its weight increased and the effort needed to lift it multiplied.

Today, the sailors simply throw a light line, which is then easily wrapped around a winch, which powers the hawser in.  All that is necessary for dockworkers is to place the loop over a large hook. When the ship is ready to depart, the dock worker pulls a lever to release the hook. The system is much faster and easier.

Clamping tools

HandClamp1 HandClamp2
C-clamps Quick hand clamps

C-clamps are useful low-cost tools, but can be slow and a bit clumsy. If frequent use is required, then quick release hand clamps offer advantages.

HandClamp3 Miniature
Light weight plastic quick clamp Miniature locking pliers

Multiple types, shapes, and sizes of clamping tools are available on the market.

Magnetic clamps

WeldingMSC MagneticLock
Welding clamp Electromagnetic clamp

Magnets can be used in a variety of ways for quick releases. Magnetic clamps are commonly used in welding, but with some creativity could be used in other applications. Electromagnetic locks are used for some types of doors. The same concept can be applied for other industrial uses, such as quick release systems for large molds and dies.

Test fittings

The coupling devices shown above right incorporate standard magnets that hold high pressure (straight out), but slide on and off easily when pushed sideways.

Hose quick disconnects

AirHose SmallTubeDisconnect
Standard air hose quick disconnect Small tube quick coupling (

Quick disconnects are common and available for a huge variety of air and hydraulic hoses and tubes.

Hose1 Hose2
Before: Pipefitting and pipe wrench After: Flexible hose and quick disconnect

This example shows a quick disconnect hydraulic hose added as part of a quick changeover setup.

Squeeze clamp incorporated into test fixture

The quick release clamp shown above is incorporated into a test operation, providing near instantaneous coupling of the product into the test unit.

GardenHose1 GardenHose2
Garden hose quick coupling

Quick disconnects are even available for home garden hoses.