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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Rotorcraft Report: Bristow Implements New Tool Control System

COMMERCIAL | SAFETY

In an effort to improve safety and reduce tool loss, Bristow Helicopter has begun bar coding its Snap-on maintenance tools. Developed on a trial basis in Aberdeen and now due to be promoted throughout Europe, the bar code system starts with all mechanics drawing their tools from a company supply, rather than using their own. Every time a tool is removed, its unique bar code is scanned electronically using Snap-on’s TC Max asset management software, with the tool being assigned to a specific employee and job.

"This is a proactive measure, designed to minimize the risk of any tools being mislaid," said John Wilson, Bristow’s engineering manager in Aberdeen. "It enhances the safety aspect as it can confirm, at a glance, that every piece of a toolkit is in its proper place. If an item is not where it should be, the discrepancy is immediately flagged up and a computerized search instigated to establish its location."

By taking responsibility for providing tools to its employees, Bristow can be sure that only new, uniform tools are being used on its customers’ aircraft, Wilson told Rotor & Wing. "The new system means tools can be quickly identified and located saving time searching for items from or within a myriad of different toolboxes that previously belonged to dozens of individuals in our large engineering team," he added. "The key factor is safety though, ensuring that no tools are left on the helicopter in potentially unsafe locations."

The new practice is part of Bristow Group’s Target Zero safety strategy. (Bristow Helicopter is one of the Group’s affiliates.) Target Zero is aimed at the company generating zero accidents, zero incidents, zero harm to people and zero harm to the environment. In line with this policy, the company has also introduced specially adapted helmets for staff working above the factory floor. The helmets are essentially mountaineering headgear equipped with ear defenders for use by engineers servicing helicopters and pilots doing pre-flight checks on their aircraft.

"We have made a substantial investment in this initiative which underlines our commitment to Bristow’s Target Zero best practice program and to delivering the best service to clients and passengers," Wilson said. "These two initiatives aptly illustrate how Bristow continually strives to put the safety culture at the forefront of our thinking company-wide."

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