When looking for areas to leverage to improve manufacturing output whilst keeping production costs low, the securing of power tools, hand tools, and consumables is an often-overlooked key driver. Securing tools and consumables through a tool storage locker reduces the risk of pilfering, and when implemented with the correct procedures, increases employee efficiency.
It is widely recognised that ensuring employees in workshop, warehouse or manufacturing roles rapid and dependable access to their tools is key to meeting output targets. As a result, businesses invest significantly in establishing tool stores, often without fully considering the impact of intentional and un-intentional misplacement of these tools. Yet the federal police reports that occurrences of theft and pilfering in Australian businesses are increasing. It is estimated that pilfering in Australia costs businesses over 1.5 billion dollars in materials alone, with tools and consumables forming a significant component of this theft.
Of course, not all tools and consumables are intentionally stolen. Some are ‘borrowed’ by employees of other business sections, whilst some are lost or damaged. However regardless of the reason for their disappearance, stolen or missing tools are an expensive, unneeded production cost.
To properly reflect the cost to production of stolen or missing tools a business must consider both the monetary cost of replacing the tools, and the decrease in production efficiency whilst these tools are replaced. Depending on business procedures such as approval timelines and approved suppliers, these tools may not be replaced for weeks, throughout which employee efficiency is decreased.
When implementing a tool storage locker, it is important to ensure that restricting the access to power tools, hand tools and consumables does not decrease employee’s efficiency and offset the benefits of a tool storage locker. This can be achieved when combining a well-designed tool storage locker and housekeeping procedures.
The tool storage locker should include tool hanging panels allowing individual tools to be given a designated storage location. These panels should be secured with a lockable see-through security device such as lockable mesh doors, allowing easy viewing of stored tools. Displaying the tools provides greater transparency, highlighting when tools are missing.
However, a tool storage locker is only as good as its housekeeping procedures. Access should be restricted to authorised users only, with stock checks occurring at the end of every shift to ensure all tools have been returned. Whilst the tool storage locker prevents pilfering when not in use, this end of shift check highlights if any tools have gone missing/ been pilfered when in use, and allows the process for replacing damaged tools to be started as soon as it happens.