Fast, proactive and responsible action - these are the most important requirements for our work at Airbus tool allocation in Toulouse. Our team, consisting of eight tool managers, ensures that the production staff at Airbus are equipped with the necessary tools and materials.
To build an aircraft, you need not only highly qualified personnel, sufficient resources and know-how, but also the right tools. The production employees at the Airbus plant in Toulouse receive this from us, the ARTS Tool Management Team. Our mission is to equip the mechanics and electricians who carry out the structural work on the aircraft here at Airbus in Toulouse with the appropriate tools. The cooperation with the Airbus plant in Hamburg is very close, as the front and rear fuselage sections of the A350 are built there. And afterwards it is sent to Toulouse for the final assembly line. As a branch office of Tool Management Hamburg, we support the Outstanding Work (OSW) team here in Toulouse, which takes over the outstanding work for the Hamburg construction part.
The employees from production come to us at the tool shop and tell us the tool they need for their work. It is our goal as a service provider for production to have satisfied colleagues and a satisfied client. In addition to ensuring the smooth delivery of tools and tool management, we also manage the tools, check their functionality and safety, and create repair orders and purchase orders as required.
As a project manager, I am responsible for supporting the entire team, consisting of 5 tool managers here in Toulouse, who are responsible for tool management in shift operation. Two other colleagues are working in Saint-Nazaire, where they are also responsible for tool shop. At these two Airbus locations, we take care of the day-to-day on-site supply of consumables, tool sets, work clothing, hazardous substances, safety equipment and test and hand tools.
We are an international team and speak four languages (German, English, French and Spanish). Therefore, communication can sometimes lead to misunderstandings. After all, we work for ARTS, a German company in which the technology and the entire IT is in German. So we translate everything to ensure that everyone in the team understands. The same applies to the tool shop. The Airbus colleagues require their tools in French and we need to be familiar with the terminology and technical details in all languages in order to equip the colleagues with the correct materials.
I enjoy working with different cultures, switching between languages and I love the challenge. That's why we've managed to overcome the language difficulties with regular feedback rounds and start-of- shift meetings. The day always starts with a team meeting in English. We talk about current requirements, delivery acceptance and delays or possible waste disposal, which make new orders necessary. The goal is always to optimize the variety of tools and the stock, but at the same time not to create a tool shortage. However, if a tool is not available, we first make sure that we can obtain the special tool from the Airbus branches in Germany or France or, if necessary, place an order. We look after the tool over its entire life cycle: we check it for function, quality and, if necessary, repair and dispose of tools. We also keep an eye on the test equipment - we monitor expiration dates or recalibrate a test tool in case of an incorrect setting.
Industrial companies are usually already familiar with the organizational challenges, but they often don’t have time to introduce process optimization independently. But why? Because they have to concentrate on their core business.
Every day, Airbus employees from the work preparation, engineering, production and quality assurance departments come to us to collect or return their tools for their work. We sit in the middle of the production halls in warehouses of about 80 to 100 m2 consisting of shelves and lots of metal cabinets.
In Toulouse, Airbus' headquarters, various production lines are bundled. It is the production site for numerous Airbus aircraft (including the A320, A350 XWB and A330). It has cabin and paint facilities and is even home to the A380's final assembly line and flight preparation. In Saint Nazaire, Airbus assembles, among other things, the cockpit of the A380 with the lower centre fuselage section. In addition, the A350 fuselage sections and the bow will be connected in the French port city. The diverse production activities suggest a large amount of tools and other materials - in Toulouse and Saint Nazaire ARTS is responsible for approximately 13,500 tools and materials. But output and take- back, which are of course digitized down to the smallest detail using a scanning device with SAP, are only a small part of our tool management tasks. So that everything can be correctly booked on the EDP side, every tool and consumable material gets a barcode from us.
Before the project started, we of course took a closer look at working methods, work contents and parameters in the computer-aided tool management and talked to the employees in the adjacent departments. Airbus had a clear aim to focus on its core business process and outsource the tool management process. The external process adoption by ARTS is intended above all to reduce indirect process costs. However, these are usually hidden in the process organization and are often not recognizable at first sight. Indirect causes of costs in the area of tool management are primarily procurement and storage costs, but also costs that add up due to a lack of tools, for example during production downtimes. Industrial companies are usually already familiar with the organizational challenges, but they often don’t have time to introduce process optimization independently. But why? Because they have to concentrate on their core business.
This is where my team started work: We took over the processes and in the first step counted the current tool and material stock in the smallest detail. We have already made some adjustments: for example, we introduced a clear tool structure for Airbus.
We also documented our results in great detail in their tool management system. The clarity we gained now saves us time in finding the tools, the tool consumption could be determined more precisely and it enabled us to make the storage of the tools more efficient.
We are currently in the process of launching further initiatives to improve the operational performance of the project, because our credo is to continuously and sustainably improve the efficiency of existing business processes.