Storage Solutions

Sept. 22, 2009
Taking productivity to new heights

Scan the newspaper’s classified section or career web sites and you’ll notice that jobs in every field look for candidates who are “organized.” It seems like such a generic term but when you stop to think about it, organization is key to the success of any business.

In aircraft maintenance, disorganization can not only have a huge financial impact in terms of man-hours to turnaround a plane (if it’s not flying, it’s not making money) but could also result in a catastrophe if foreign objects are left in a jet engine.

Installing a well-thought-out storage system into your maintenance shop or parts department can have tremendous positive effects. Here are some factors to keep in mind when deciding on storage for your facility and the latest storage features out there to keep your operations running at peak efficiency.

Improving efficiency
The faster a technician can find the tool he needs for a task, the faster repairs can be made, and the aircraft returned to the skies. Mobile, high-density toolboxes allow mechanics to have all tools by their side and ready to go. Look for storage options where you can choose from a range of housings and drawer heights. Planning storage needs around how you do your job will increase efficiency; a storage sales engineer can help with this crucial planning phase of consolidated tool kits (CTK), soliciting input directly from the technicians to arrive at the best design to suit their individual needs and preferences.

Facilitating tool ­inspections
Having every tool accounted for at the end of a job is crucial. One small tool left in an engine could lead to an accident and loss of life. Having a storage system that instantly accounts for inventory saves time and helps eliminate the stress of counting tools. Modular high-density cabinet storage options are available where drawers have two-color foam drawer inserts that are cut out in the shapes of every tool a mechanic has in his CTK. This type of storage solution enables mechanics to do a quick visual inspection of their toolboxes after completing a job to ensure all tools used in the repairs are accounted for.

Protecting avionics
With the prevalence of glass cockpits in airliners, business jets, and military aircraft, the need to work on expensive electronic instruments in a safe environment is increasingly important. Providing your technicians with Electro-Static Dissipative (ESD)protective workstations to do their repairs helps eliminate static discharge and preserves the integrity of electronics. ESD workstations feature a static-dissipative top with a common grounding point for equipment and technicians via a wrist strap. When deciding on ESD storage solutions, look for workstations that adhere to ESD Association standards.

Saving space
Traditionally, aircraft parts departments store components on 12-inch-deep shelving in cardboard or metal bins. But efficiencies could be gained by switching to a high-density modular cabinet solution. Just one 59-inch-high cabinet can store as much as five open-shelving units. In addition to tremendous space-savings, modular cabinets also improve organization, allowing staff to quickly locate and retrieve parts for technicians, while accommodating for future growth needs.

When planning parts department storage, you should look for solutions that provide a total integrated storage solution for everything from small parts to bulky, heavy items. In addition to high-density cabinets, you might want to consider a vertical lift system to maximize your storage space. Vertical lift systems provide control over your inventory, security, space-savings, and oftentimes corporate mainframe integration in one solution. Partition and divider grids provide the ultimate in compartmentalization and organization.

Manufacturers also provide storage solutions that include tire storage, parts carousels, mezzanine systems, and a host of other options that can help you realize the greatest efficiencies across all aspects of your operations. Considering the total maintenance storage needs also enables your maintenance shop and parts department to have a uniform, professional appearance.

Securing your special tools
The special tools used in aircraft maintenance are expensive. Having an organized storage system helps protect this investment but you’ll also want to ensure that your system has a reliable locking system. Look for manufacturers who have specially designed keys that cannot be duplicated, yet that allow a foreman to have a master key.

Safeguarding your ­storage investment
Installing the right storage solution in your shop will provide a substantial ROI through increased productivity, space savings, and quicker inventory. But you can get even more from your investment by choosing a manufacturer that offers a lifetime guarantee on its products. Manufacturers who provide such an offer stand behind their craftsmanship. It might not be something you ever take advantage of, but it’s nice to know it’s there.

Stanley Vidmar offers storage solutions to all industries, with modular, space-saving systems that provide quick, safe access to parts, tools, and supplies. For more information: (800) 523-9462,