The relationship between Snap-on and Eurostar began in 2013 when Eurostar acquired some ControlTech industrial electronic torque wrenches from Snap-on and were looking at options to control them at point of use along with other high value, specialist & calibrated tooling. After careful consideration of various different options Eurostar decided that the Snap-on Automatic Tool Control (ATC) tool boxes would best suit their needs, primarily because it was the most user friendly and least intrusive system for their end users.
Once installed at point of use the ATC tool boxes only require the user to touch their company ID pass against the card reader and the tool box automatically accesses the users account & unlocks the box. The convenience of use is the main reason why the Snap-on ATC tool boxes have been so well received by the end users at Eurostar.
Using advanced digital imaging technology and proprietary software every drawer open, close & tool transaction is recorded at the speed of use and stored both locally on the box and in a central database that can be accessed remotely using the intuitive ATC admin client software. As soon as the user has the tools they need, the ATC is locked and secured with a single press of the touchscreen and they can then continue with their work.
The first ATC was installed in the bogie drop facility during 2014 as a trial and proof of concept, the location was selected as it is the harshest environment on site, the work is heavy, dirty and temperatures can vary widely whilst the shed doors remain open for the duration of the work. Following this successful trial 3 more ATCs were installed at ground level between roads 4 and 5 in the main maintenance shed to cater for the 374 fleet introduction in 2015.
A further 4 ATCs were installed on the high level gantries on roads 3 & 4 in 2016 to provide tooling for roof mounted equipment work also on the new 374 fleet. Then one more ATC was installed at ground level outside the team leaders office in the main shed containing keys and uncommon tooling not found elsewhere, bringing the total number of ATC boxes in service at the depot to 9 by the end of 2016.
Fast forward to today building on the success of the ATC programme, expansion of the 374 fleet and further modification of the depot to maintain them, Eurostar have now increased the number of ATC boxes in service at Temple Mills to a current total of 23, making them one of the largest adopters of the Snap-on Automated Tool Control system in the UK, and they are currently distributed as follows:
- Bogie Drop x 1
- Main Shed Ground Level x 10
- Main Shed High Level Gantries x 12
Based at the depot there are around 20 teams of engineers, all of these have a basic personal issue tool kit, and most of them also had two team tool cages each in the 450 Meter long shed. One of the objectives of the ATC project was to provide tool availability at point of use that would then allow Eurostar to reduce the need for these team cages by 50%, by removing any calibrated and specialist tooling from these cages and placing them into the ATCs so that they are accessible to everyone 24/7.
Half of the engineering teams work a 7 days on – 7 days off shift pattern, so the tools contained within their team cages were locked away for 6 months of the year. This was obviously not a great use of the company’s expenditure on tooling, and with regard to hand tools these teams had all amassed a varied selection over the last 25 years, so no two teams had the same tool inventory and until recently no one person knew the contents of all of these team tool cages.
Today, Eurostar has around 300 registered ATC users and as the ATC coverage within the main shed has grown, more and more tools have been placed under ATC control so the engineering teams have come to rely far less on their personal and team tools, instead going to the nearest ATC to obtain what they need from there. They have also found the ATCs a great help when carrying out repairs or unplanned interventions, when they are far from their team cages or the Stores, as they can easily grab a pressure druck or fluke from the nearest ATC, instead of walking all the way back to the stores or their team cage. This is another reason why ATC was so well received by the shop floor engineers, it is convenient and makes their life easier plus the business has benefited from far less unproductive time.
The ATC admin software tracks everything that happens both at the ATC and via the software then stores it in an easily searchable way, thus making it very useful for record keeping and audit purposes. The software also allows some feedback by the ATC to the end users and vice versa, so if a tool is removed by an ATC administrator for calibration or repair, a status can be set against that tool either via the ATC touchscreen or the admin software. Conversely if a user wishes to report a broken tool and request replacement or repair, they can do this via the touchscreen on the box which will then send an alert to the ATC administrator.
Scott Seacombe, Industrial Engineer and ATC Project Manager said: “The ATC software is an absolute gem, it’s amazing how useful keeping accurate transaction history for tools can be, and the images generated from each drawer open and drawer close can be extremely helpful.”
Through 2019, Eurostar has further plans to add at least one more ATC and are also considering Snap-on’s TC Max asset management software to control all remaining tooling still held in the stores, this software will also be capable of managing consumables and free issue items. Perhaps the biggest advantage of TC Max is that it will work seamlessly with the existing ATC admin software ultimately providing a single searchable database of every tool the company owns together with its current location and usage data.