Buck And Hickman

Hand tools are used daily by aerospace manufacturing and maintenance operatives, but specification is often led by price or brand loyalty. Kevin Thompson of Buck & Hickman explains how careful specification can lead to greater productivity, cost reduction and eliminate accidental product damage.

When compared to mechanical components, hand tools are often seen as a simple product to specify – a spanner is a spanner, a hammer is a hammer. In reality, there’s a great deal of science that goes into the specification of a hand tool.

In terms of cost reduction, many manufacturers are now moving away from traditional tool kit management, where each operative is issued with their own set to carry around and use in various areas of the factory. A solution growing in popularity is the introduction of zoned toolkits kept in numerous convenient locations, perhaps on shadow boards or in foamed cut-outs in drawers, each of which serve a given area. Each kit is carefully curated to the maintenance needs of that particular area, meaning engineers use the equipment provided at each maintenance point, then return it for the next user. This prevents individuals carrying around equipment they rarely use, cutting down on unnecessary spend, and ensures specialist tools are readily available at the point of use. Engineers know the correct tools are kept next to the relevant piece of equipment, and a quick glance at the kit before leaving the area will reveal if anything has been left in the production area.

The latter point is a major factor in the aerospace industry’s preference for this method to reduce the risk of Foreign Object Damage (FOD). In the same way that the medical profession implemented measures to prevent instruments or swabs being left inside a patient post-surgery, shadow boards and central toolkits were introduced to eliminate FOD, ensuring  tools were not left in engines or other component assemblies (or in places where they could be knocked down and damage components). Also gaining popularity in the automotive sector, central toolkits can be carefully designed to ensure sufficient supply of frequently-used items, while providing a useful, visual indication of tool safety.

Buck & Hickman conducts extensive audits of tool use as well as analysing user preference, making recommendations for the tool type and material, and can curate area-specific tool kits to ensure suitability and product protection.

For further information visit www.buckandhickmanuk.com

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