Pick the right tool storage option for the job

May 1, 2006
BY TOM SCHWALIE JOBSITE STORAGE EXPERT JOBSITES ARE BUSY, hectic places, with tools and equipment everywhere. With all the activity and project deadlines to meet, contractors are frequently too busy to think about properly organizing and securing their valuable tools and equipment. Yet, jobsite storage equipment is as important as the tools that are used to get the job done. The tools on the average


JOBSITES ARE BUSY, hectic places, with tools and equipment everywhere. With all the activity and project deadlines to meet, contractors are frequently too busy to think about properly organizing and securing their valuable tools and equipment.

Yet, jobsite storage equipment is as important as the tools that are used to get the job done. The tools on the average contractor's jobsite are valued at thousands of dollars. Don't you want to protect that investment?

Jobsite tool theft is a reality on today's jobsites — and, unfortunately, most contractors have dealt with the impact of theft on the jobsite at some point in time. In the long run, making an investment to properly secure your tools pays off when you don't need to replace tools that were stolen, or experience unnecessary downtime when tools are missing. Having your tools organized and readily available where and when you need them also facilitates efficiency and profitability.

Picking the proper jobsite equipment is a critical element of jobsite security and organization. Before you begin reviewing the different types of jobsite storage units available, the first step is to assess your requirements.

Ultimately, choosing jobsite storage equipment is up to the individual's preference. When choosing jobsite tool storage equipment, however, you have to consider several factors, including security features, construction, organization and access options, portability and the need for a work area.

Consider the following tips when choosing jobsite tool storage options.

Security features
The most basic security feature — the storage unit's lock system — is one that should be examined carefully before making a purchase decision. The lock system is the first line of defense against thieves and tool loss.

  • For optimum security, choose a strong, deadbolt-style locking mechanism; it is more secure and easier to use than other lock styles.
  • Contractors can choose to key all their job-site storage equipment differently or to key it all alike. The "key alike" security option requires one standard lock, so that if users need to access different storage units, different keys aren't needed. While this is more for convenience, it also allows a manager to easily manage loss prevention and save money.
  • Permanently mounted locks that you do not have to remove save contractors valuable time by eliminating lost or stolen locks.
  • A recessed lock compartment eliminates the use of bolt cutters by potential thieves.

Secure construction
Over and above the obvious quality locking system, certain construction features can help to keep thieves at bay.

  • A lid with a hemmed edge prevents tools, such as a crow bar, from being wedged in between the lid and the bottom portion of the toolbox to pry it open.
  • Make sure the hinge is staked and welded. This helps stop thieves from being able to knock out the hinge pin.
  • Avoid tool storage equipment that has a riveted hinge because rivets can be pried open. A hinge that is spot-and stitched-welded makes it more difficult to tamper with or remove, thus adding extra security.
  • A heavy-duty reinforcing channel in the lid construction provides maximum strength to the lid and prevents anyone from damaging the lid in order to break into the tool storage equipment.
  • Jobsite storage equipment is constructed of various steel gauges. The smaller the gauge number is, the thicker the steel. Pay particular attention to the steel gauge size near and around the cover, to ensure that the steel is strong enough to prevent would-be thieves from breaking into the equipment.

Equipment design
The overall quality of the unit depends on extra steps the manufacturer takes when constructing the unit — from quality of steel to attention to details that translate into a higher quality, more secure storage unit.

  • The legs and skids should be constructed of heavy-gauge steel. If the storage unit is housing heavy tools and supplies, the legs have to be able to support this weight. They also need to withstand frequent forklift contact.
  • A U-shaped metal channel inside the lid helps reinforce lid strength. This not only makes the storage equipment more durable, but it also helps prevent thieves from being able to push in the lid and break into the storage equipment.
  • If you plan to manually move your chest or cabinet, make sure it has handles for easy gripping. A recessed handle design helps prevent damage to handles during transport.
  • Look for a storage unit that has either a baked-on enamel finish or a powder-coat paint finish for long product life.

Access and organization
Every contractor has unique needs when it comes to jobsite storage. Before purchasing jobsite storage, contractors should evaluate the quantity and kinds of tools they need to store and how often they need to access them. Although it comes down to individual preference, contractors should think about the following when choosing between chest, cabinet, rolling workbench and portable field station:

  • In general, a chest is best suited for mobile users. If wheels are attached, the contractor can easily move equipment from one part of the jobsite to another.
  • If a large amount of storage space is not needed, then a chest is more appropriate.
  • Cabinets, which are generally taller and offer more storage capacity, are useful when more storage space is required.
  • Cabinets allow for easier access because tools are organized on shelves rather than in one open space.
  • A field station is ideal for those who need some tool storage and a work area (i.e., a surface to review drawings) in the middle of a jobsite. In essence, a field station is a portable office that can be used at strategic points around a large jobsite; it is transported with a forklift.
  • A rolling workbench provides tool storage and a work surface. Because it has wheels, it is ideal for contractors who need an easily portable work area indoors or on hard, compact surfaces.

As a contractor, you can be located on projects for months at a time, or does your work week frequently take you to several project locations? Portability is an important aspect of choosing a job storage unit.

  • Consider wheels on your storage equipment if you have to transport it from one point to another on the job-site. Caster wheels are designed to carry substantial weight and travel on hard, compact surfaces (i. e., hard dirt and concrete).
  • On softer surfaces (i.e., mud and work surfaces associated with newer construction sites), it is recommended that storage equipment be transported with a forklift.
  • Storage equipment is available with the flexibility of adding or removing wheels to meet specific job-site requirements.

Taking jobsite security precautions and investing in high-quality, dependable storage equipment will benefit you in the long run, making you more efficient and more profitable.

Many contractors pride themselves on buying the best and most expensive tools to accomplish their work,nyet some contractors make the mistake of purchasing the cheapest storage equipment for those tools. That's like leaving the garage door open on your house!

By choosing the most secure jobsite storage equipment, you are protecting your tools, your investment and your livelihood!

Tom Schwalie has been a product manager at Knaack Manufacturing for three years. He has 15 years of experience in developing products for the construction industry. Knaack markets jobsite storage equipment as well as Weather Guard truck and van storage equipment. For more information, contact Knaack by phone at 800/456-7865, fax at 800/334-2981 e-mail at [email protected] or www.knaack.com

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