One survey respondent revealed that his airline uses an internally developed tool booking application, which provides limited reports—such as number of tools per technician—but it is developing a radio-frequency ID solution for tools and ground support equipment for better tracking. (See chart).
The majority of respondents said their companies reported losing 1-10 tools in 2012. When asked about the cost drivers of poor tool control, averaged answers rank the following from highest to lowest: lost productivity, labor dedicated to finding lost tools, operational shutdown or schedule disruption, disassembly or rework to locate a lost tool, and replacing tools.
There was not an obvious correlation between concern about a tool control's effectiveness and a system's lack of electronic or automatic functions. Even though companies use robust software applications in their production environment, many do not connect electronic tool monitoring into these applications. However, “The Tooling Module of our custom-enterprise-resource-planning system can establish dependencies between tools and which aircraft types they are applicable for, as well as training required to check out/use the tools,” reports Art Smith, AAR's vice president and chief quality officer.
Because 60% of respondents indicate they hope to connect electronic tool monitoring into their software applications, expect more activity in this area.
Respondents were divided about their the priorities for better tool control. Reducing the threat of FOD had by far the highest number of first-place votes (but also the second-highest number of “least concerned” votes).
After FOD reduction, the order of goal importance is: less time searching for tools, better inventory control and organization, and obtaining metrics on maintenance tasks/repair flow.
All lead to a more efficient and cost-effective operation.