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During shutdowns and turnarounds, the amount of time that a workforce spends on the tools has a direct impact on the productivity and overall success of these major events. Yet despite the importance of tool time, it remains a significant challenge for many industrial sector businesses today.

Anecdotally, some industrial sites achieve tool time efficiency as high as 80% – while at other sites it can be as low as 20%. This means during a 10hr shift some workforces will average just two hours on the tools, with the remaining 8 hours spent obtaining work permits; attending meetings; moving around site; or tracking down tools, equipment and consumables. 

“20% tool time is extremely low,” says Jeff Allen, National Manager for Industrial Services, Coates Hire. “But when you understand the complexity of these work environments and the many factors that can influence tool time, you see just how quickly this lost time can add up.” 

Thankfully there are a myriad of ways to drive tool time efficiency – read on to find out more. 

Site design

When you take a look at the site layout for many industrial shutdowns it's no wonder people spend so much time moving between different locations. To design efficient site layouts there are some important facilities to consider – like the location of toilets and lunchrooms; site entry and exit points; licencing and permit booths; and site tool stores. “There’s really no one size fits all approach, but it is possible to find an optimal layout for each location,” says Jeff. 

Another challenge many businesses face is the variation that exists between individual sites. “Industrial sites are all different, each with its own set of challenges and constraints,” says Jeff. “There is also very little visibility to how shutdowns are managed on other sites and in other industries. Individual businesses naturally have their own ideas on how to operate efficiently and to lay out a site, but industry best practice can be harder to come by.”

To fill this gap Coates Hire utilises telemetry and other technologies to inform best practice – as well as lessons learned to avoid site design inefficiencies. “By sharing this knowledge, experience and these resources with our customers we can help them to maximise the time they spend getting the job done, and returning the plant to operation earlier.”

Tool tracking

During shutdowns considerable time is also spent moving around site trying to find tools and equipment – downtime that quickly eats into tool time and productivity. The underutilisation and inefficient use of tools and equipment creates further delays and even more unnecessary expense. Coates Hire’s temporary on site tool shops offer customers comprehensive tool tracking solutions to improve utilisation and tool time efficiency; speed up delivery and improve cost efficiency. 

“When customers are equipped with information there’s a huge opportunity to improve their project outcomes,” says Jeff. “Barcoding and tracking technology, used alongside proprietary CHASE software lets us track tools, equipment and site movements in real time – improving accountability for lost tools, reducing hire times and the time customers spend transiting for permits, and searching for equipment. Analysing tool utilisation data also allows customers to make more informed and cost effective equipment hire and purchasing decisions.” 

Project planning

Planning is another critical factor for improving tool time and project efficiency during shutdowns. “You need to know where everything will go and how it will operate efficiently long before you start on site,” says Jeff. “Because unless it’s a long term project there are very few opportunities to make changes once work begins.”

During the early planning stages for shutdowns Coates Hire can advise customers on how to achieve tool time and other project efficiencies. “To help customers plan in efficiency we draw on analytics and past experience from delivering many other successful industrial events,” says Jeff. 

Reach out to our industrial services team to find out how site design, project planning and intelligent tool tracking can improve tool time on your next shutdown. Or find your local branch.


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