U.S. Army contractor Equipto of Tatamy, Pa. has begun distributing a new set of tools that it says will help motor maintenance personnel work safer and more efficiently.
The basic system already is in use in a maintenance training program at Fort Bragg, N.C., and is gradually being deployed at maintenance depots nationwide. The redesigned Standardized Automotive Tool Set (SATS) can be more easily configured, while its compact design makes it safer by clearing the shop floor.
“The net result is a more user-friendly, modular storage system for parts and tool room managers,” said Jeff Williams, director of government sales at Equipto.
Launched in 2005, the original SATS system cleaned up a chaotic situation in which mechanics stored tools haphazardly in varied tool chests and cabinets. With its standard foam cutouts, each designed to hold a particular tool, SATS simplified the process, making it easier to find tools and delivered a measure of accountability.
SATS also streamlines inventory, according to Army Logistician, the Professional Bulletin of United States Army Logistics. Previously, it took more than 40 hours to inventory a maintenance shop set; SATS cuts that effort to two hours.
Widely deployed throughout the Army, SATS serves some 1 million vehicles, Williams said.
But there are shortfalls in the system. Designed without rollers, drawers can be extremely difficult to pull and push. Protruding legs and casters create a safety hazard, jutting out onto the shop floor.
“The SATS is a good system. It is deployable, it is very organized, it gives accountability and trackability, but there are these issues,” Williams said.
Equipto’s revised system continues the practice of consolidating common automotive tools in foam cutouts, while attempting to improve upon the existing model with a number of upgrades.
Each of its 60-inch wide units can accommodate two of the foam inserts from the original housing system, a design that increases storage and simplifies organization. A roller bearing drawer eliminates the metal-on-metal friction that made the original drawers difficult to operate. Protruding legs have been removed, clearing the aisles and removing trip hazards.
Equipto’s storage technologies already are used in military bases and federal and Homeland Security administrative facilities. Williams suggests its latest system could be a boon at a time when the military is experiencing broad shifts in its mission. As tasks evolve, maintenance crews need new degrees of flexibility, something Equipto hopes to provide.
The modified system can accommodate additional shelves and expanded storage capacity without having to be wholly reconfigured. The system also helps fulfill security needs. Mobile units can be rolled together and locked down with a single key, making units easy to secure and efficient to unlock.
As a result, “it maintains all the benefits of the standard issue SATS system, in a more flexible, user-friendly form of housing,” Williams said.