Keeping Up With The Tools - Integrated, scalable system controls and manages keys to locked tool boxes

Keeping Up With The Tools

Integrated, scalable system controls and manages keys to locked tool boxes

There are hundreds of specialized tools used on a daily basis at the United Airlines jet engine rebuild and test facility, a 20-acre maintenance and operations center adjacent to San Francisco International Airport. United jets are brought to the facility, where more than 1,400 employees work, to have their engines rebuilt. Here a tool used every day might cost several thousand dollars, and test equipment can cost even more.

Keeping up with the toolsBefore a system was in place to keep up with these tools, they were not well organized and difficult to track. At times tools could be lost or misplaced, at a possible cost of $10,000 to $20,000, remembers Bob Brown, senior specialist for continuous improvement at the United jet shop.

Brown and the continuous improvement team were tasked with solving the problem of lost tools. First, they transitioned the facility to “point-of-use tooling” to provide each mechanic the specific tools needed for the job at hand. Locked toolboxes are used to contain tools ranging from screwdrivers, wrenches and torque tools to specialty tools used to get around corners. Each tool box has dimensions of about 5 by 3 by 8 feet and a lock, which needs a key to open. A KeyWatcher integrated key control and management system from Morse Watchmans keeps track of all the keys. The system stores keys and enables complete control of who has access to individual keys. An audit trail tracks data regarding who removed a key, when it was taken and when it was returned.

The United jet shop uses one 96-key and three 48-key KeyWatcher cabinets. The 96-key unit and one of the 48-key units incorporate card swipe readers to enable employees access using their time-and-attendance cards.

All four cabinets have keypads that enable entry using a user’s unique PIN. Keys may be out for 20 minutes or for up to a full eight-hour shift. Backup keys, for use in case a key is lost, also are secured in the cabinet. The jet shop uses the system to manage the keys to tool boxes used throughout the facility.

Before the advent of the tool control system and the installation of KeyWatcher in December 2009, tools were difficult to find at times. Among the concerns in a jet engine plant is foreign object debris (FOD), which includes stray objects that could be sucked into a jet engine, destroying rotating parts such as blades that cost $20,000 or more. A single engine has hundreds of blades that could be damaged.

The United jet shop allots money to upgrade and make changes in the environment to protect and control tooling around the engines to avoid FOD. Before controls were put in place, each mechanic decided what was in his or her tool box, which might include anything from a knife, fork and pencil to nuts, bolts and washers. The new system was instituted to better control tool box contents and avoid the possibility of FOD.

The facility typically rebuilds 15 or so jet engines each month in addition to four or five auxiliary power units. United carefully tracks each engine’s life cycle, including how many times it takes off and lands and how many hours it operates. Each engine part has a specific lifespan, and engines must have critical parts remanufactured periodically to keep the engines running safely.

When employees work on an engine, they bring it into a “cell,” an area in the building where point-ofuse tooling is assigned to the job. In addition to several engine cells, the facility includes test cells and test equipment, which are used to take engines through their cycles.

Each cell includes all the needed parts and pointof- use tooling. One side of the cell is dedicated to tear down and the other to build, and all tools are kept separate. There also is a “flow line,” a moving line where big engines are assembled and disassembled.

Tracking is an important function at the United jet shop. Brown’s duties include incorporating “lean” methodologies and eliminating waste at the facilities, which translates into getting jet engines into and out of the rebuild facility more quickly. To solve the tool problem, he searched the Internet looking for products that could help, talked to vendors and considered alternatives such as electronic tool boxes with swipe cards.

“Now that we have KeyWatcher, the tools stay in their designated locations,” Brown said. “The Key- Watchers are up and running strong every day.”

He says that in the two years since the system was installed, there has been only one missing tool, which was found after two hours. “That’s a pretty good record so far for a facility this size,” he said.

Another benefit of KeyWatcher is more accountability, Brown said. “We know the actual person who is using the tools, and we can hold them accountable. That’s why we’re not missing anything. They take pride in what they do, and everything’s there for the next person.”

The United jet shop installed and set up the Morse Watchmans system, and then the manufacturer came out and showed the users how to program and operate it. Online control enables Brown to operate the systems, run reports and know from his desktop computer who has any key. The system can be accessed through an IP address from anywhere in the building.

KeyWatcher activity reports provide complete information on what keys come and go on what day and at what time. The information provides insight into usage trends that could help the facility support a need for additional equipment.

In fact, the facility is already looking to install additional KeyWatcher units, and other departments at United have become interested in the system for additional uses.

This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Del V. Salvi is a freelance writer based in New York.

Featured

  • Security Today Launches 2023 Government Security Awards

    Security Today Launches 2023 Government Security Awards

    Security Today is proud to announce the launch of the 2023 Government Security Awards. The Govies honor outstanding government security products in a variety of categories. For this year’s awards program, participants can choose from 38 different categories to enter their product(s) into. Read Now

  • Back to the Basics

    Back to the Basics

    Security is a continuous evolution of practices and procedures. The developments in technology and advancements in threats make security difficult at times. Although security from one location may look different from another location, there is a common goal applied to security measures. The common goal is protection. Read Now

  • The Top Three Security Trends in 2023

    The Top Three Security Trends in 2023

    As security technology has become more widely used, the interest in new capabilities and increased security measures has increased. As we head into 2023, these three trends will shape the security landscape. Read Now

  • TSA Breaks Record Nationally and in Washington for Firearm Discoveries in 2022

    TSA Breaks Record Nationally and in Washington for Firearm Discoveries in 2022

    Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers in Washington detected 164 firearms in travelers’ carry-on luggage in 2022, with the majority of the firearms discovered at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s (SEA) security checkpoints. Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity

New Products

  • Tyco Kantech EntraPass security management software

    Tyco Kantech EntraPass security management software

    Johnson Controls, the global leader in smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, and architect of the Open Blue digital connected platforms, has released the newest version of the Tyco Kantech EntraPass security management software. 3

  • Camden Door Controls CV-603 2 Door Bluetooth Access Control System

    Camden Door Controls CV-603 2 Door Bluetooth Access Control System

    his app-based system is designed to provide ‘best in class’ security of doors and gates, with up to 2,000 users. The intuitive programming app is Apple® and Android® compatible, with easy to use system set-up, user administration, downloadable audit trail and data back-up. 3

  • Kangaroo Home Security System

    Kangaroo Home Security System

    Kangaroo is the affordable, easy-to-install home security system designed for anyone who wants an added layer of peace of mind and protection. It has several products, ranging from the fan-favorite Doorbell Camera + Chime, to the more comprehensive Front Door Security Kit with Professional Monitoring. Regardless of the level of desired security, Kangaroo’s designed to move with consumers - wherever that next chapter may be. Motion sensors, keypads and additional features can be part of the package to any Kangaroo system in place, anytime. Additionally, Kangaroo offers scalable protection plans with a variety of benefits ranging from 24/7 professional monitoring to expanded cloud storage, coverage for damage and theft. 3