The RFDS Engineering department in WA recently began using two brand new 'Snap-On' Automated Tool Control (ATC) System tool kits. The automated tool kits combine networked tool storage and inventory management software into a full integrated and automated system, helping to combat foreign object damage at the frontline. The two brightly coloured tool kits are now in full use.
These innovative systems require each engineer to swipe a key card to lock and unlock the tool box. Inbuilt scanners capture a record of the drawers every time they are opened or closed, storing and comparing the images to track which tools are removed or replaced. The integrated information identitifes which engineer is using which tool, giving an accurate and automated inventory record at any time.
The results is untold safety benefits through tool control and subsequently the prevention of Foreign Object Damage (tools left in or around aircraft during maintenance, ultimately causing damage to the aircraft). We are able to run a robust system of innovative equipment which isn't labour intensive.
Engineering Manager Darren Barlow says, "we are leading the way in terms of innovation and best practice by having one of the most robust and efficient tool control systems for aircraft maintenance within the aviation industry. Tool control has always been a key element of safely completing aircraft maintenance. Various methods and systems are used within the industry, but one of the most significant drawbacks to even the most effective and robust systems is that they are time consuming and hard to manage.
Our ATC system allows a high degree of traceability and accountability with regards to where our hand tools are and who has them at any given time. The automatic element removes nearly all of the time consuming and challenging management associated with similar tool control systems. Our aircraft maintenance hand tools are now centrally located and managed by our network-enabled tool boxes.
By having a system and procedure where only these tools are used, and the system is aware where these tools are being used, our aircraft maintenance job coordinators are able to confirm that an aircraft is clear of tooling after maintenance prior to final release to service certification, with just a few clicks of a mouse!
We are now front runners in aircraft maintenance tool control, joining other high profile operators including Qantas and Bristow Helicopters, in our best-practice use of the new system. Our use of the ATC toolboxes demonstrates our commitment to organisation's capability and reinforces our reputation of industry leadership."