By Robert Holmes, WinWare, Inc.
Let's face it… When it comes to tool tracking, what is asked of those who use the tools goes against their human nature. If I had a dime for every time I heard "put it back where you got it," I would have retired by the time I was 15 years old. Well, I didn't get a dime each time I heard that and am still a long way from retirement, but that doesn't change the fact that putting things back where we got them is a behavioral pattern that must be learned — again and again.
Tool tracking is one area where this learned behavior becomes critical. In highaccountability environments, serious risk is involved if mechanics and maintenance personnel have not committed to this learned behavior. Not only that, but because it is a learned behavior and both thought and action are involved, there is always a chance for error. In high-accountability areas like aerospace manufacturing or power generation turbine maintenance, human error with something so seemingly simple as not leaving a tool behind can be costly. Costs are incurred in multiple areas, not only from equipment damage. If the tool is recognized as missing prior to an aircraft moving down the line, we may have reduced the risk of damage, but we've also added the cost of search time, lost production, and disassembly or whatever else it takes to locate the tool. More often than not, the tool is usually found in a coat pocket, trash can, or pants pocket and is directly related to the behavioral change we spoke of earlier.