Problem: How to develop a more efficient and securable system for storing and retrieving Special Service Tools (SST)
Solution: Design a standardized system for all Toyota and Lexus dealerships
Benefits: Significant cost savings from not having to replace lost tools; tools are centralized, easily located, inventoried, and secure; increased shop productivity; and faster repair time resulting in higher owner satisfaction
Products Used: Cabinets
Faster service. Happier customers. Lower costs. Those three phrases are music to the ears of car dealership owners. A disorganized Special Service Tools (SST) storage system in the service department contributes to just the opposite. That was a reality Toyota Motor Sales USA saw plaguing its dealers, so it decided to assist with a solution.
Toyota Motor Sales USA requires all of its 1,400 Toyota and Lexus dealerships to own SST. Dealers are supposed to store these tools in a central location, so that service technicians can quickly find them when needed. The reality was that, in many dealerships, technicians spent way too much time hunting for SST.
In fact, the average technician spent a minimum of six minutes per day on the hunt, and it wasn’t unheard of to squander an hour searching for a particular item. With the average dealership employing 14 technicians, costs added up over the course of the year. To make matters worse, the average dealer was spending $1,500 per year replacing tools that had been lost or stolen.
The cause of the problem was that the old tool board and racking system held only 40% of the dealerships total SST. Some kept the additional tools in boxes, others on open shelving. Most didn’t lock the tools up when not in use, and most had no effective way to keep track of which technician had what tool at any moment.
Toyota decided to tackle the problem in 2001. The company performed a pilot survey study and identified SST as a redundant dealership cost, a hindrance to maximum shop productivity, and a potential customer satisfaction issue. “Technicians were spending too much time locating specific SST that they needed in order to ensure a quality repair,” says Jim Sapunarich, Toyota’s Advanced Vehicles and Equipment Manager. He says the company saw a need for a central, securable storage system that all dealers would benefit from utilizing.
Vidmar storage sales engineers worked with Toyota corporate headquarters to design a system appropriate for all dealerships. “We asked them to give us a complete set of tools,” says Vidmar Storage Sales Engineer Joe Micek. “We then designed a storage system based on those tools that would also have room for 25% growth.”
The three-cabinet system organizes tools by category: power train, diagnostic, chassis, fuel and emissions, and so on. Each category includes large and small drawers to accommodate different-sized tools. Labels on the drawer pulls identify the category of tools stored within, and partitions inside the drawers create compartments sized for particular tools. Line art and photos in each compartment make it easy to put tools back in the right place, while an index on the outside of the cabinet makes quick work of finding tools when needed. The service or parts manager controls access to the system and keeps track of who is using what.
Vidmar shipped the cabinets to every Toyota and Lexus dealer in the U.S. in 2003. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. “The Vidmar system has made their technicians more productive,” says Sapunarich. “They’re working on cars rather than searching for tools. Our service managers tell us it’s one of the most helpful things we have ever done in tools and equipment.”