Tool Control Systems for Your Flight Department

    Basic or Complicated:  It Depends on Your Needs 

    You’ve been tasked with implementing an ISBAO compliant Tool Control System for your maintenance operation.  Wow, that can be expensive.  That can be complicated.  For mechanics, there’s a perception that this can be a royal pain in the butt.  Heck, your A&Ps have had their own boxes on the floor since A&P school.  What to do to keep everyone happy while evolving your ISBAO?

    Simple (Business Aviation) Solutions  We all know that know that the PopOff man sells those new fangled computerized, automated RFID roll away tool control boxes for a king’s fortune.  While some of us can afford the transition to automated RFID tool control or a similar bar coding system, the rest of us are relegated to finding creative solutions that are ISBAO – and budget – friendly.  If your operation is typical, what can you do when budgets are flat?

    KISS.  We’ve all heard that acronym.  Keep it simple, right, Zeke?  That’s what we always recommend at BAS.  Here are two simple suggestions. 

    1. Digital Imaging  Open your first toolbox drawer.  Make sure your tools are organized and plainly in a spot that can be called its permanent home.  Take a digital photo of the drawer and print it out.  Place a copy of the photo in the corner of the drawer.   Repeat this for all of your drawers.  Make it an SOP for technicians to refer to the image after the completion of each task, making sure the image exactly matches the drawer’s reality.
    2. Shadow Boxing  No, you don’t need to be Macho Camacho to do this.  It’s simply foam material (or similar) providing a shadow, or resting bed, for each tool in the drawer.  Yes, this is more complicated than digital imaging.  It takes more work, more organization, and more real estate space in the box, but it is also more exact, making it harder to miss a tool at the end of a job.  If you choose shadow boxing, just like digital imaging, don’t forget to adjust maintenance SOP to include a final check of the tool box before the maintenance event is closed out.

    Also remember that at the end of a project a robust tool control final inventory is ideally performed by a second set of eyes.

    Inventory Lists and Tool Inspection  An accurate Master Inventory List that is audited on a regular basis is a component of good tool control, and any tool control processes should include an individual tool inspection before and after each tool’s use.

    Missing Tools  A thorough tool control system will include procedures for dealing with missing tools.  A “just” safety culture, a component of a mature ISBAO program, encourages such reporting without fear of retribution.  The process should seek to find the root cause of why or how the missing tool incident occurred, and as part of your SMS a Hazard ID Report should be completed and submitted.  Remedial actions that address process quality improvement should be taken as necessary.  This might mean that you’ll never lose another 5/16″, 1/4 inch drive, socket again!

    What you really need to remember is that your Tool Control System should be as individual as your operation. It is whatever works for you. Don’t let a consultant or vendor tell you that you need to buy an expensive, cookie-cutter, or “off the shelf” solution. That’s simply not necessary – unless it truly works for you. You can simply and easily develop your own Tool Control System with little or no cost.

    Unique.  Seems I say that a lot.  The TCS, just like your SMS or your flight operation, is unique.  Make it your own, and be proud of what you’ve accomplished in the advancement of your maintenance department’s professionalism and safety, and wrench on, Zeke!

    Business Aviation Solutions can help with Tool Control or any other ISBAO problem. Give us a call.  805.558.8524.  We’ve got the experience and we’d welcome the opportunity to help you evolve and mature your TCS, your SMS and your ISBAO. You’re not in this alone.  We promise to keep it simple, cost effective and tailored specifically to your operation.

    Call Business Aviation Solutions for ISBAO support @ 805.558.8524


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