Original Date: 04/07/1997
Revision Date: 04/14/2003
Best Practice : Customized Tool Kits
Rock Island Arsenal’s (RIA’s) Customized Tool Kit program is designed to provide customers with customized tool kits assembled to meet their specific needs in the shortest possible time. Tool kits are various configurations of tool boxes, cabinets, and shelters containing a specific set of manually operated and/or automated tools selected to perform maintenance operations by the soldier in the field. Customized tool kits feature laser marked identification of tools, and foam inlays for easy detection of missing tools to minimize foreign object damage.
Prior to 1992, RIA was a traditional tool kit provider. Tool kits were typically made of military standard heavy metal containers and loaded with government issue tools. Tool kits were also accepted by the soldiers in the field in the traditional way, indicating the soldiers accepted whatever was issued to them regardless of deficiencies in meeting their field requirements. Prior to 1989, business was good with orders of 12,000 tool kits per year. However, with the downsizing of military budgets and personnel, tool kit orders drastically declined. Fielding feedback and reviews indicated that a number of improvements were needed in the tool kits issued to the field such as the cost, delivery of appropriate tools, durability of individual tools and tool kits, lost and misplaced tools, and lengthy delivery time for replacement tools. Misplaced tools were often found in the equipment being maintained which led to serious damage of equipment.
In 1992, RIA addressed the tool kit business with a renewed approach that built on the improvements and demands identified by RIA Industrial Operations personnel and field soldiers. Steps were taken to design demonstration tool kits that were less costly by using commercially available off-the-shelf tools; more durable by the replacement of metal tool kit containers with plastic; and easier accountability of tools by using cut out foam inlays. The new design was readily accepted, and a new improved tool kit business was started. The Industrial Operations Directorate established a self-directed work team to develop the capability and capacity to increase the business growth. The team made good use of equipment obtained from surplus accounts, thus reducing the need to procure new equipments, and incorporated innovative processes throughout the operation. Equipments included a laser etcher for marking the individual tools; a water jet cutter for cutting the inlay patterns for each tool; an AutoCAD system for tool layout; and improved warehousing methods. Contracts were established with key tool suppliers that allowed for just-in-time and emergency delivery. The team worked closely with the customers to determine their requirements and provide timely estimates. Final tool kit configuration was generated from AutoCAD and also provided an estimate to the customer at the same time. The tools meet the Society of Automotive Engineers’ industrial standards.
An interagency agreement was established with the General Services Administration authorizing RIA as the sole provider of customized tool kits for the Army, thus allowing standardization, consistency, and control throughout the Army. Additionally, major contracts have also been established with the Air Force. Currently, more than 3,000 customized tool kits are delivered to over 100 different customers on an annual basis. A completed tool kit is typically delivered in 90 days after the order is placed, but can be accelerated to 45 days in an emergency. Replacement tools are typically delivered in five days after a request, but a 24-hour emergency delivery is also available. A 1-888-RIA-TOOL hot line has also been established. Today, the business has grown to annual sales of $7 million.
For more information see the
Point of Contact for this survey.