Getting the Right Tools to the Right Worker, Faster

June 6, 2018
Automated dispensing gives round-the-clock access to tools and PPE gear, and shortages can be avoided thanks to automatic reordering.

Traditional tool-storage cabinets have been replaced in some workshops by more modern dispensing systems that give workers 24-hour access to tools and personal-protective wear — and, most important, keep track of current inventories. A log-in system for workers means that equipment required for individual projects can be sorted before a drawer or issuing compartment opens.

Always in stock — Keeping the issuing system fully stocked with enough tools and protective work wear is obviously a priority. This is the reason that modern tool-management systems share information with management software, or the workshop's materials management system, automatically notifying purchasing and planning departments and placing new orders if numbers fall below minimum quantities.

For workshops where multiple tool issuing systems are used, it is also important that all machines can be connected to a central control unit and operated in parallel. This should also be a consideration for smaller operations considering a system like this: Setting up multiple systems at different locations can pay for itself by shortening the time it takes to fetch equipment.

For example, the DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung GmbH plant in Neumünster, Germany, benefits from a fully automated tool-dispensing system. Plant managers there wanted to ensure that the 500-man staff had easy, round-the-clock access to the tools they’d need across all three shifts. They also wanted to cut down the amount time spent fetching tools. This difficulty arises because there are various workshops across the site, so at times fetching tools may take longer and be more time-consuming.

Using the Garant Tool24 Smartline goods issuing system not only allows DBF to improve its operations by reducing times for fetching tools and through continuous, round-the-clock availability of tools; it has also significantly raised employees’ job satisfaction. The system simplifies their access to tools – especially during the night shift when the regular tool stockrooms are not staffed. Employees can serve themselves from the sturdy cabinets with up to 90 drawers. In addition, they can quickly identify the equipment that they require thanks to the intuitive software search facility by scanner, keyword search, or item number.

Modular design principle — An issuing system can be used particularly economically if it can maximize the amount of items it holds: with the Garant Tool24 Smartline dispensing system, shops can choose drawers with differing heights and widths. The Garant Tool24 PickOne offers an individual output system with four different combinable compartments in line with the modular principle, to organize the individual output of selected C-articles (the lesser-value, frequently restocked items.)

Individual output allows for an especially high level of control over consumable materials because after an employee has logged in to the system, he has only limited access to individual items because of the small withdrawal compartments. Even the stock levels of classic C-articles can be monitored precisely.

For instance, individual issuing makes it possible to reduce the waste of safety gloves or earplugs by up to 50%. This has been the experience of Hoffmann Group customers: If heavy articles must be managed by the individual output system, the system also needs to be able to hold particularly heavy loads. Some tool management systems have been designed for this reason to hold load capacities of up to a one metric ton.

Modern tool issuing systems aren’t just robust and reliable, though. They are also extremely intelligent as they are controlled by intricately programmed software. Because they already know and can be optimally informed about tool requirements and tool usage, they have the potential to become the hub for tool data and represent an important step on the way to implementing Industry 4.0 strategies.