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Back To Basics: Tool Room – The Ideal Place for Controlling Inventory
Clarence provides valuable information concerning affectively using a tool room for management control in a pallet factory.

By Clarence Leising & Dick Burns
Date Posted: 9/1/2010

            Everybody should have a tool room. It should not be simply a place to drop off and retrieve some rarely used tools. It should be an integral part of your factory. It can be the key to control.

            Running a pallet factory takes a lot of things: wood, electricity, fuel, and tools. Tools and the room where they are stored hold a promise to control production and even provide needed management information. Without the proper tools, a difficult task can become even tougher. Without an organized tool room, keeping the essential items becomes much more difficult and much more expensive.

            What do you put in a tool room, and what additional values can your tool room bring? Nailing tools, nails, saw blades, gloves, saw chains, and chain saws for starters. Others include spare parts for your lawnmower, nailing tool parts, machinery wear parts, and safety equipment – just about everything you need and use. The tool room needs to be large enough to store everything. It also needs doors that are wide enough to allow a forklift to bring in pallets of nails, soft drinks, etc.

            When I ran a pallet recycling plant, the first thing I did every morning was open the tool room and hand out nailing tools, nails, gloves, blades, safety equipment, and whatever else my people needed. The key element of our tool room was to document everything dispensed. I needed to be able to compare apples with apples and know where all my tools, parts, and supplies could be found.

            Keeping nail records allowed me to compare GMA builders, watch over-building and under-building, and prevent nail theft. Tracking nail usage allowed me to keep an eye on fork truck drivers and prevent them from playing favorites.

            If you have more than one band dismantler, you can compare blade usage. The same principle applies to blades for cutting new lumber. My office and desk were not a cover for blades and nailing tools. Our equipment and supplies did not end up in a pawn shop.

            Tracking blades can be as valuable as tracking nails. Blades require a lot of storage space. Varying species and different sawing conditions will require different blade types and specifications. Typically, softer, greener material will require a little more hook and set. Denser material will require less. A taller tooth will offer more gullet and can be advantageous in wider cuts. More gullet will aid in sawdust removal and allow for faster sawing. Tooth spacing is also important; depending on the width and speed of a cut it should be selected appropriately.

            Many variables go into proper blade selection. Janet Goddard, who has been with Wood-Mizer for 18 years, offers blade consulting and blade order maintenance. Once the proper blade is selected, she can automate orders or assist with maintaining usage. This can help monitor blade inventories.

            Blade users will sometimes switch blades automatically during difficult weather conditions. Janet logs her customers’ usage and the timing when they switch blade profiles. If customers select automated shipments, blades are staged in advance and shipped out on selected dates. Automated industrial orders can be a convenience for busy facilities. Blade needs should be tracked to keep the proper blades on hand and not accumulate excessive inventories due to seasonal variations.

            The tool room system is really pretty simple. All shipments go to the tool room, get logged in, and are then dispensed as needed. This even includes soft drinks. If you don’t use a tool room, some day when you clean-up, you’ll find half boxes of rusty nails and blades, nail guns lying around, and broken band run-over. You get the idea.

            By storing and hanging your tools in an organized way, you will have early detection of lost or missing equipment. One simple but very effective practice is to paint an outline around the tools to show where they should hang on the wall. It is pretty obvious when something is missing. When all tools are put away, you should have an outline without a tool.

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