Survey Finds Need For Better Tool Control

By Lee Ann Tegtmeier
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
September 23, 2013

The aftermarket issued a no-confidence vote for its tool control practices—with one-quarter of respondents selecting “highest concern” in a recent Aviation Week survey.

The Web-based poll, conducted in June and July, questioned the global civil aviation aftermarket industry about tool control practices, in preparation for a panel on asset tracking during Aviation Week's MRO Europe Conference on Sept. 24.

When asked “how concerned are you about the effectiveness of your tool control process,” on a scale of 0-10, the average answer was a slightly concerning 6.15.

However, note that only 8% selected a 0 or 1 (the lowest concern) versus 22% who chose 10 (the highest). Delving into those extremes, 50% of the “10s” came from airline carriers' line-maintenance/operations support, versus 37.5% from MROs and 12.5% from OEMs. Comparing that to the 8% who selected the lowest-concern numbers, 55% were from airlines/operations support, 15% from MROs and 30% from OEMs.

While tool control practices and procedures need to improve, capital costs and internal cultural resistance are the two biggest obstacles to adopting new tool control practices, survey results show. Other impediments, such as not having the right technology, finished far behind these two barriers.

Capital cost and cultural resistance concerns could be linked to who owns the hand tools and how tool boxes are assigned.

Consider a European airline that spends €1,800 ($2,388) on a standard electromechanical toolbox for a technician—but it has 12 different types to account for different skill sets and maintenance tasks. If this airline opted for shared toolboxes, fewer tools would be available, which should save money, reduce missing tools and foreign object damage (FOD), and make tools easier to track. The return on investment case could be made for funding a high-tech tool control system, but this airline also anticipates that it would produce cultural and technological resistance.

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