Auto repair shops are often in a perfect situation to take advantage of 5S strategies. These shops typically have a lot of different types of inventory, and perform a wide variety of different tasks each day. Since they are repairing all different makes and models of vehicle, not to mention the year, as well as fixing all sorts of things on each one, there are many places where waste can creep in. Using 5S supplies is a great way to help ensure a facility isn’t falling into bad habits and wasting time, energy, inventory or anything else.
There are many different things that an auto shop can do to help improve their efficiency. This can make it easy for the shop owner to pick a few things that will have the biggest impact right away. If, for example, they choose to simply implement foam tool organizers and shadow boarding, they will enjoy a noticeable improvement right away, and one that can help benefit the shop for years to come.
Foam Tool Organizers in Auto Shops
There are hundreds of different tools that a shop needs in order to work on vehicles. Some of them are as simple as a common wrench, and others are larger and custom made for working on cars. Many of the tools are used so frequently, that it can be beneficial to have several of the same one. All this can easily end up resulting in a big messy toolbox.
When people can’t find the tool they need, it can waste a lot of time. They will have to dig through the toolbox to find it, and if it is not there, they begin to search through the shop. It may be in use by someone else, or just not put away properly. Foam tool organizers are a great way to help eliminate this problem quickly and easily, while also helping to ensure the tools are better protected so they don’t get lost or damaged.
Foam tool organizers are simply firm pieces of foam with cutouts for each tool that it will hold. One piece of foam might be used to hold all different types of screw drivers, for example. Another can be used for different sized wrenches. There are some tool organizers that come with the cut outs, and others need to be custom made. No matter which type you use, however, your shop will benefit from having a set place for every tool in the shop.
Storing and Tracking Tools
Many shops that have started using foam tool organizers begin putting tags or labels on the tools, as well as on their place in the organizer. When someone needs a tool, they simply check it out in a written or computerized log, so everyone knows exactly where it is. When they are done, they check it back in and place the tool in its proper location. Since the tool storage area will now just have one spot for each tool, people won’t be able to just toss all the tools in a drawer, causing an unorganized mess.
While foam tool organizers are great for many types of tools, they don’t work for everything. For all the other tools, tool boards can be an excellent option. These boards, also referred to has shadow boards, hang on the wall and have hundreds of small holes in them where hanging hooks can rest. Each tool will have its own area on the board, which will have the outline, or shadow, of the tool painted or printed on the board. This helps ensure everyone can easily see exactly where each tool has to go.
This is a simple way to organize the many types of tools that don’t really fit in a foam tool organizer. Larger tools, or those with power or air cords, for example, often can be placed on a shadow board much more easily. In addition to keeping these tools better organized, it also helps to keep them displayed out in the open so they are easier to find.
All the mechanics can quickly see the tools, and grab the ones they need. If the tool they are looking for isn’t in its proper space, they can check the log to see who has it. The shadow board is a great way to help make it faster and easier to find all the necessary tools.
Damage & Loss Prevention
In addition to making the shop much more organized, these two items can help reduce the risk of tools getting lost, damaged or even stolen. When everyone knows where things have to go, missing items will quickly be noticed so that the shop owner can investigate. The foam organizer or shadow board will help keep cords from being tangled, or tools from banging into each other, causing damage.
These are two simple and affordable items that every auto shop should own. They will quickly pay for themselves by eliminating all sorts of waste in the shop.