Working in an auto repair shop can often feel chaotic. It’s not just the challenge of repairing today’s complex automotive systems within a limited amount of time or appeasing an irate customer, it can also be a simple issue of not being able to access the right tool for the job at hand. You know that the tool you are looking for is somewhere around, but you’re just not able to lay your hands on it! A simple trick to making your life a bit easier is investing in some of the myriad storage and organizational equipment that is available on the market.
These consist of – but are not limited to – tool system organizers, socket organizers, wrench racks, screwdriver organizers, plier racks, drawer organizers, tray organizers, cabinets with various number of drawers, utility carts, service carts and many, many more. Some of these may be portable and some stationary.
Having your tools and work area organized is vital to working at your best. Knowing you will find the tools you need when you need them will help you to not only function more efficiently, but also allow you the peace of mind to focus on the more important task of dealing with a complicated electrical or diagnostic problem that you may be confronted with at the time.
“Keeping a shop organized is not difficult, nor does it have to be expensive,” said Scott Brown, owner of Cardinal Plaza Shell in Springfield, VA. “Organization is essential to productivity; you need a clean workspace where everything is easy to find.”
Among Brown’s favorite items are tool carts, drawer inserts, shelving and tool hangers. Drawer divider systems help customize the space to fit one’s tools. Mobile service carts with drawers make it easy to store tools and prevent loss of valuable items. During the day, the service cart can be moved around the shop as needed and brought back to a safe place before close. Tool chest roller cabinets come in a variety of colors and may feature a sliding top.
A wide variety of tool holders and organizers are also available with magnetic elements that keep tools, sockets, pliers and wrenches organized. These “holders” may be attached to any metal surface vertically, horizontally and sometimes even upside down under the hood. Magnetic panels, which are made from steel for greater durability and high energy magnets, can either transform your toolbox into a magnetic tool holding display or offer a vertical tool storage area.
Smaller magnetic “sticks,” on the other hand, increase productivity by preventing the loss of valuable hand tools. The sticks attach to any metal surface, be it a tool cart or vehicle, and are designed to hold a variety of tools, screwdrivers, wrenches, sockets, pliers, and nuts, bolts and screws.
It’s advisable to store power tools and their related accessories in plastic tool boxes above ground away from impact, dust and moisture and any other hazard that can potentially damage them. Modular tool storage systems offer the best utility and flexibility. Steel cabinets also offer convenient storage places for portable power tools and accessories.
“If an item can help the shop in our quest for additional efficiency, I am all in on it,” Brown emphasized.
Before deciding on buying an item for organizing your shop, say, a cabinet with several drawers, it’s a good idea to take inventory of the tools you have and then sort and categorize them. Storing tools according to type and function will make them easier to locate and use. This will also help you choose the appropriate size cabinets and/or tool chests which usually are available in many configurations with anywhere from three to eight or more drawers or shelves. Make sure the accessories are stored with the tool with which they are used. For instance, keep the drill bits with the drills.
Remember also that proper organization of tools and parts when disassembling a car saves time and prevents frustration during the repair process as well as after when the repair work is complete and the car is ready to be delivered back to the customer.
In Brown’s opinion, “Everyone at the shop needs to be involved for a shop to be organized. You should always be looking for creative ways to utilize space to give yourself additional storage without impacting the space you need to actually work on customers’ cars. It is also a matter of what you do with your storage space … for example, do you really need your three previous scan tools? If you go through your current space and find stuff you haven’t used in six to 12 months or more, dispose of it.”
In a repair shop environment where time is at a premium, staying organized is key to efficiency and productivity. Your shop will best serve your business goals if your tools and parts are placed in a manner that they can be easily accessed, moved, stored and used.
Article courtesy TechShop.