New Hangar, New Tools

March 20, 2015
Monarch Aircraft Engineering replaces maintenance engineers’ tools with a new controlled system

The tradition has always been to buy tools as you can. As a aircraft maintenance student you buy quality tools as you go along, adding as you progress in your career.

In a new approach, Monarch Aircraft Engineering (MAEL), based in the United Kingdom, with maintenance hangar facilities at London Luton Airport (headquarters), Birmingham Airport, and Manchester Airport, decided to replace all of its engineers’ personal tools with a new controlled system.

In November 2013 MAEL opened a multimillion pound, 110,000-square-foot state-of-the-art maintenance facility at Birmingham Airport, which has already serviced more than 600 aircraft. With safety a top priority for MAEL and in a move to ensure Birmingham Airport is a world-class facility for aircraft maintenance, a decision was made to replace all of its engineers’ personal tools with a new controlled system. This ensured complete security and accountability in and around the hangar.

Lee Burgess, general manager maintenance planning & strategy at Monarch Aircraft Engineering, says, “An established toolkit can take many years to build, so it was common that many of our engineers built theirs over a very long period of time. This meant that far more experienced engineers possessed a full range of quality tools, but for those who are relatively new to the industry, they often only had the basics.

“A solution was needed to not only ensure engineers have access to quality tools from day one,” Burgess continues, “but to also enable complete control and ownership of the tooling inventory to monitor usage and be able to account for tools daily.”

Finding the right partner

Following a gruelling selection process, MAEL partnered with global tooling solutions specialist Snap-on Industrial UK to facilitate the replacement of more than 27,000 hand and power tools with its world leading Level 5 tool control system.

As a recognised manufacturer of quality products, Snap-on Industrial was included in the selection process from the start. According to Burgess, the team from Snap-on Industrial demonstrated from the early stages that they understood the vision of MAEL.

He says, “Snap-on Industrial understood the need to work with us pre- and post-implementation to develop the tools held in each cabinet. The hands-on involvement in development ensured our team had the right tools in the correct volumes to do the job without holding up production.”

Storage and traceability

Snap-on’s Level 5 programme TCMax Asset Software Management was chosen by MAEL as it offered secure storage of assets and the detailed control and traceability required by the business. It works to counter foreign object damage (FOD) and makes the workplace safer and more productive through five key measures: tool organisation, tool visibility through engineered coloured foam inserts, tool security, tool tracking, and digital tool accountability which provides full audit trail and torque calibration schedules.

Within this, networkable tool control (NTC) provides electronic keyless lockable tool storage units, allowing only authorised personnel to access. All tools in the system are laser etched with an ID number linked to a specific cabinet within the TCMax asset management system, providing comprehensive tool accountability.

When a tool is removed from the cabinet a unique record is generated, providing real-time inventory management including details of who is currently using each tool, on which aircraft, even to a specific area, all linked to a works order. Critical events such as calibration requests and broken or lost tools will trigger an alert sending an automatic email distribution to a list of shift supervisors, ensuring immediate action is taken to locate missing tools or the timely replacement in the case of broken tools.

The results

The MAEL inventory management team now have central visibility and real time reporting for all assets in use within the operation. This allows them to analyse tool usage easily and utilise inventory and future investments with greater clarity. It also has the ability to provide audit information to ensure customers have greater confidence in MAEL’s business controls.

The Snap-on Industrial programme represents a significant investment by MAEL, one of which would have previously been made, albeit at a lesser level, by each engineer.

Engineers part of the process

MAEL made sure that engineers who would become the end users were involved in the development process, ensuring that Snap-on fully understood the needs of the business, and ensuring buy-in from its team. Not only do the new tool cabinets look better than personal toolboxes scattered around the hangar, but they put great quality tools at the engineers’ fingertips.

Mick Adams, managing director at MAEL, says the full engagement of staff was one of the most pleasing aspects of the new Snap-on Industrial solution.

He states, “Many engineers have been operating with their own tools for many years and the positive engagement from staff in changing to a company-supplied toolkit is in no small part due to the support we have received from Snap-on Industrial during the initial stages of the programme.

“The team at Snap-on Industrial went above and beyond to ensure they obtained a full and proper understanding of not just our processes, but also what is important to us, what makes us tick, our culture, and our DNA.”

Safety management

The new solution marks a significant step change in safety management as MAEL now has complete visibility of what is being used, on which aircraft and by whom.

MAEL’s Burgess adds, “We strive to consistently develop and improve our safety standards across the board. With a full review planned to take place at six and again at 12 months, we will be able to identify if any changes need to be made in order to adhere to our exact needs.”

As a result of the successful implementation of the programme at Birmingham Airport, plans are being considered to extend the solution to the hangar facilities in Luton and Manchester.

Ian Brook, Snap-on Industrial UK sales director, concludes, “There is increasing pressure within the aerospace industry to conform to tighter audit processes for tool control. Snap-on’s understanding of these demands and constant drive to deliver innovative solutions that solve customers’ problems, have resulted in the solution we see here. The synergy between our two businesses is clear, sharing the same objectives for the delivery of a quality product and service excellence. We are very pleased to have been selected and continue to enjoy the business partnership we have with Monarch Aircraft Engineering.”