Power tools are a crucial part of manufacturing operations. To keep them working properly – and to keep employees safe while using them – it’s important to do preventive maintenance. This care will not only extend the life of power tools; it will also increase productivity and efficiency. Here are five methods for preventive power tool maintenance.
- Implement a Maintenance Program
To best protect power tools and the employees who use them, implement a power tool maintenance program. This should include clearly-defined operational procedures, periods of maintenance, and hazard control. A good way to begin this program is by following manufacturer recommended maintenance schedules. For power tools, these may be as simple as setting aside time every 6-12 months to ensure blades and bits are replaced, safety components are working, and any damaged cords are fixed. Manufacturing facilities that don’t have time to maintain power tools in-house can take them to authorized service centers where regular maintenance services can be performed.
- Properly Train Employees
Any workers who use power tools should be properly trained. This training should not only include best use practices for whatever capacity they’re working in, but also proper inspection, maintenance, and cleaning methods. Should certain power tools only be used in specific situations? Can some tools be serviced while turned on, or must they always be turned off? Is there a correct way to test operator controls? These are questions that properly trained employees should have answers to. Employees should also be empowered to report tool breakdowns to managers and participate in the execution of power tool maintenance programs.
- Use the Right Tools
One of the biggest mistakes people make when using power tools is not using the right tool for the job-at-hand. It may seem like a time-saving idea to grab the closest power tool nearby – or continue using the same one job after job – but it’s not. Steve Wheeler, a writer for Grounds Maintenance, gives the example of trying to drill a 2-inch hole with a small-capacity tool. Not only will it not work, it’ll probably damage the tool, and could injure the user. No matter what job is being done, take time to find the right power tool. For help, reference an owner’s manual. These often provide work capacities and other tips to prolong tool life.
- Store Tools Properly
Power tools are an investment and should be stored properly after each use. If left unprotected, they’re more likely to be damaged by other objects or develop internal and external rust. When power tools rust, their mechanisms will eventually malfunction and stop working. This is dangerous for workers and a poor way to maintain tool life. Instead, store power tools on properly labeled shelves, in sturdy tool boxes, or in secure bins to minimize damage.
- Use the Right Power Source
Before using any power tool, check the power rating on its nameplate to ensure it matches the power source. Most power tools are designed to operate at specific voltages. Attempting to use power tools below their voltage limits could result in loss of power, overheating, and damage to the tool. Be especially careful when working with generators or extension cords. Both can affect voltage and power tool operation. Users should also be aware of any worn or damaged cords: it’s best to replace these immediately.
Power tools should be cared for properly to ensure long life and safe use. By adhering to these methods, power tool repair and replacement, as well as employee injury can be avoided. Manufacturing professionals, who would like to learn more about power tool maintenance, should contact The Tool House today. As an expert in tools, TTH can work with facility professionals to improve quality and efficiency.