It’s early into the new year, which means businesses are still trying to stay true to their resolutions to be more organized, clean, safe, and efficient. These are noble ideas to strive toward—in fact, most of them fit into the Lean methodology known as 5S. All of these principles go hand in hand, and they’re integral to any successful business, but it’s easier said than done. When it comes to keeping organized, especially in industries that require a lot of tools to get jobs done, organization gets complicated, overwhelming.
When a technician might need a number of tools to complete each task, it’s easy to see why workstations are often littered with piles of equipment. Workers get busy, tools don’t get put away at the end of the day because they’re kept far away, or there’s no room for them, etc. Soon, our workstations are a mess, and we’re losing valuable production time trying to find the tool we need.
Luckily, we can help. We’ve written before about tool foam organizers and their ability to make your workspace more effeicient, and it bears repeating. Here are our favorite ways for tool storage that are efficient, safe, and organized.
While newer, shinier options have pushed it out of the spotlight in recent years, the pegboard is a classic solution for the problem of losing tools. For anyone who was raised in a house built before 1970, you might recall seeing a wall covered from floor to ceiling with a pegboard in your garage. Sun-faded, sagging slightly from too much moisture and not enough ventilation, these tool organizers were popularized in the 1950s as a way to prevent tool loss and make weekend projects easier to manage.
The idea is simple: rather than keep tools in boxes, drawers, and buckets, they’re kept on hooks, completely visible. When you need something, you simply go to the pegboard, and finding the tool you need is as easy as selecting your favorite cookies from the shelf in the grocery store.
Pegboards do require a lot of space—a substantial portion of a wall—so this solution might not be right for smaller work areas.
Shop our Pegboards here.
Tool Foam Organizers
Toolboxes are great for tool storage, but they still run the risk of getting unorganized, cluttered, and hard to manage. Tool foam organizers are a great way to keep your toolboxes orderly, efficient, and under control. Some of these foam tool kits have a two-color system to prevent missing tools by showing when a tool isn’t in its place. These are especially helpful in industries that require the frequent use of a number of different tools.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of the tool foam organizer is that these kits come fully customizable, so you can get foam sized for whatever storage system you have in your workspace. The tough, closed-cell foam holds tools in place so they don’t slide around and get damaged in your toolbox.
Kaizen Guide: Better your business with continuous improvement
To be successful, you can’t make an improvement once and forget about it. Effective lean businesses use kaizen, which means “continuous improvement”. In kaizen, everyone looks for ways to improve processes on a daily basis. This Kaizen Guide explains the kaizen mindset, basic kaizen concepts including the PDCA cycle, and real-world examples.
They do require some assembly: for two-color systems, the foam comes in two pieces, and you’ll have to trace your tools, cut the shape out of the top layer of foam, remove the adhesive backing, then stick the bottom layer of foam to the top. This way, you can build your tool foam organizer to fit your specific needs.
Once you’re set up, you won’t have to spend time searching for tools in your box again.
Shop our selection of foam tool organizers here.
Shadow Board Tape
While pegboards and toolboxes make it so all of your tools are visible at once, if the tools aren’t placed in some sort of logical order—wrenches grouped together, hammers side by side, etc.—then finding the tool you need can be just as difficult as reaching into a deep bucket of tools, hoping to identify the thing you need by touch.
Shadow board tape, also called tool outline vinyl, can help get you organize your pegboard in a way that makes sense to you—and stay consistent with maintaining the organization of your new tool system. Like tool foam, this storage solution requires some assembly. You’d trace, then cut out the shape of the tool, then place it on the board where it makes most organizational sense to you—if you use a ball-peen hammer right after using a 4” crescent wrench, then it might make sense to group them together, or you may want to organize by tool type.
While it’s often used on pegboards, that’s not the only place it can be used. This product can be used in a cabinet, drawer, toolbox, or other places where tool organization is important.
Whichever way you choose to organize your tool system, shadow board tape will help you stay organized and efficient.
Shop shadow board tape here.
Magnetic Tool Holders
For smaller workplaces that require a small number of tools, magnetic tool holders are a great organizational solution. These holders allow you to clear the pliers, screwdrivers, and everything else off the floor or workbench and up onto the wall in a neat, compact fashion.
Socket caddies—a close cousin of the magnetic tool holder—will prevent losing sockets and will help keep all your sockets in one place.
These tool organization systems don’t provide as much storage as pegboards or foam tool organizers, but they’re perfect for small workspaces.