Etihad Airways Engineering has enhanced its aircraft maintenance capability with a new Automated Tool Control (ATC) system which provides engineers with greater tool access, handling and traceability, and eliminates the risk of tools being lost in critical aircraft systems during maintenance.
Connected by Wi-Fi to a central server, and capable of providing an audit trail of the last 15,000 transactions, the automated system tracks the tools that are selected and is immediately able to identify any broken, lost or unreturned tools.
The toolbox can’t be opened until the engineers scan their badge against the reader mounted on the front of the box. The badge identifies the engineer as an authorised user and the box unlocks. Using the built-in touchscreen, the engineer confirms their job task (work order / task number) and job location.
The new system was successful trialled at Abu Dhabi International Airport in November 2015, and was rolled out across all Etihad Airways Engineering maintenance bays in January.
Around 350 staff have been trained on the new system, with over 50,000 transactions being recorded to-date – with no missing tools.
Jeff Wilkinson, Senior Vice President, Etihad Airways, Technical, said: “Tool control is a key factor for success as we look at ways to improve maintenance processes that reduce workflow, optimise efficiency and enhance safety.
“With our new ATC system, our engineers are able to get on with the job quickly and efficiently, without having to take additional steps to track, register or look for the tools they are using, saving significant amounts of time.
“This also enhances safety as a lost tool isn’t just an inconvenience to the engineer, but it’s also a potential safety hazard if unintentionally left inside an aircraft,” he added
Multiple systems, some consisting of up to 1,000 individual tools per box, and others with dedicated tools for electrical and cabin engineering work, are allocated by the systems administrator to an authorised engineer assigned to a specific maintenance task on the aircraft.
Etihad Airways Engineering’ Technical Maintenance department currently has 32 automated tool boxes in-house, with an average of 20 systems currently online at any one time. The remaining systems will be integrated to the Automated Tool Control server and administration software as required to meet the needs of the maintenance teams as aircraft come in for maintenance.