What is the first thing you think about every day when you get to the shop? When is that job going to be done? How much longer? Are we making time on this job? It’s the same question for techs, service advisors and owners alike, and if you’re like a lot of us, you think about it all night long too.
The answer lies in efficiency, and a well-oiled machine always gets the job done in less time. The last thing you need to slow you down is organization, which brings us to our focus for this issue. Efficient operation happens when you have efficient organization, and efficient organization is the result of efficient storage. It’s as simple as that.
What does it take for an advanced storage solution? Well thought-out products and a little bit of time are all you need, and we’re going to break it down into three primary categories; toolboxes, tool organization and shop storage.
On the outside, toolboxes don’t often change that much. After all, it’s a large box with drawers, right?
Yes, they will always be the same to a certain extent, but there are some features on the market today that are truly cutting-edge.
Misplaced, lost or “borrowed” tools have always been a topic of frustration and quite often a major safety and quality concern. What if you had a toolbox that required electronic keyless entry and recorded exactly who entered the box at what time? If you like the idea, it’s already available and the same box scans each drawer to record which tools are removed and returned, when and by whom.
For the aircraft industry this is invaluable and you can imagine the possibilities for your shop tools. Even as your personal toolbox, it would be the ultimate way to keep track of tools, of course we don’t think it would work for that catch-all drawer of nuts and bolts — sorry.
Moving inside the toolbox, a couple of solutions stand out here. The first one is foam cut-outs. You can make these yourself to custom build your toolbox how you like and it’s an investment that’s well worth the time and money. It creates easy possibilities for tool inventory and it just takes a quick glance to see if anything is missing. This is a great option for both shop and individual tools.
These foam systems are also widely available pre-made with complete tool kits, or you can have them custom-cut for a very refined appearance of your own tool selection.
Also on the inside and a great option for advanced storage are tool organization products. Maximizing the use of space inside your box — in a cost-effective manner — can sometimes be a challenge, and since each and every one of us has a different selection of tools, being able to custom design it for our needs is the most important factor.
Sockets, wrenches and screwdrivers are always on the top of the list of difficult-to-store tools and a host of companies offer a wide selection of unique and useful tool organization products.
Too many times we get a random socket holder here or there and they just don’t work out well. Imagine an entirely versatile socket storage system that features twist-lock clips, removable rails with the push of a button, socket identification, ratchet and extension holders, cart mount kits and magnetic rails, all which you can buy and build in an entirely custom manner. Now you don’t need to imagine. It’s a reality.
Wrenches, the next nightmare of storage are easily transformed into the advanced category with wrench trays in standard, reverse and stubby, and wrench rails and two-sided portable wrench towers.
What about all those bits that come in space-wasting blow-mold cases? Advance their storage status using a bit organizer. There are many different varieties to meet your needs, and some feature upright storage for the shorter ones and sideways storage for longer bits so you can keep them in a shallow drawer.
Screwdrivers are certainly not on the easy list of storage, but with the right products and a little of your time, you’ll end up with a layout that will advance your storage and the envy of your coworkers.
Screwdriver trays are common and work well, but can limit the overall efficient use of space. Rails are one of the more adaptable options and they can be trimmed and positioned to fit in any size of drawer, allowing you to effectively utilize every bit of space for maximum function.
Top things off with plier organizers and drawer dividers, and you’ll find yourself with the most advanced toolbox setup in the shop, allowing you to easily answer those questions I mentioned earlier and think about them less.
Changing gears, let’s move on to shop storage. This is an important topic that gets often overlooked. Cabinets can work wonders in advancing the storage opportunities in your shop. Even if the large ones become cluttered over time, if they’re dedicated to a certain type of parts or supplies, it will streamline your operation and keep extras off of floors and benches.
Specialty cabinets are also valuable asset. Bulb cabinets, hose dispensers, thermostat cabinets, ignition cabinets and tire accessories, just to name a few, keep expensive parts stored in an organized manner, saving money from lost parts and time looking for them.
Advancement in technology reaches us on a daily basis and advancing your storage solutions will turn you and your shop into that well-oiled machine. Flip through these pages and you’ll see a lot of the cool stuff we are talking about.