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By Dan Hounsell, Editor
Maintenance & Operations Article Use Policy
The challenge for managers does not end with selecting the most appropriate arsenal of tools. It also is essential that once the tools are in house, they remain in good working condition for as long as possible. Unfortunately, tool manufacturers say, managers too often worry about the financial side of the purchase equation.
Saunders says managers who focus too much on low initial price at the expense of post-purchase considerations "pass the buck on maintenance on to workers," who then must deal with the results of low quality on the job site.
"The price might be cheaper, but the long-term costs are higher," he says. "I can't stress too much how important maintenance is on tool life. With proper maintenance, the overall cost comes down."
Saunders says compressed air tools can present particular maintenance challenges.
"A lot of times, you don't have good, clean air," he says. "If you properly filter the air, you eliminate 90 percent of the problems."
While technicians need to regularly inspect their power tools for signs of wear or other trouble, they also need to monitor the condition of accessories, such as saw blades.
Not doing so "can really cause wear and tear on the tools," Sumner says.
Finally, managers must address the issue of tracking power tools to ensure proper maintenance and prevent theft.
Saunders says among the strategies that have succeeded in addressing both theft and maintenance is a program that awards a worker a tool after using it on the job for one year.
The program has worked because "workers tend to take better care of the tool because they know there is a reward at the end of the process," he says. Previously, if tools broke down, workers did not care much because they knew the department would simply issue another one.
Another strategy for preventing theft involves mandating a technician checking out a tool leave his or her company identification badge, Saunders says. When finished, the user returns the tool and receives the badge.
Whatever the decisions on each individual issue facing managers specifying power tools, manufacturers say managers are likely to find the greatest success by taking a broad, strategic approach.
Says Richman, "Some people look at the lowest first cost, instead of asking, 'How am I going to outfit my entire crew productively?'"
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Product Focus: Power Tools