In the Field: The Right Tool Makes All the Difference

If you ask MOST dealers what products they saw at a trade show, they’ll probably tell you that they saw several hundred different video cameras and another hundred IP-based devices.

But if you take a closer look while walking trade show floors, such as the upcoming ESX Show in Baltimore, you will see mixed in between all the video and IP information other products that provides dealers an opportunity to refine their skills and find new ways to improve their installation and service capabilities.

Yet if you ask most dealers what resource tools they saw at the trade show, they may have to pause for a moment to come up with an answer. Most shows offer a wealth of tools for dealers to add to their arsenal. Smart dealers will tell you that using the right tool for a job can make the difference between profit and loss on a project.

Think of the installer drilling with a dull drill bit – how much time could be saved if they were using a sharp bit – minutes, hours, maybe days given the varying size and scope of each project?

Using the proper tool is more than just replacing dull bits. It is about installers being equipped with tools that make them more effective and efficient.

Tools typically fall into one of four categories: hand, power, specialty and testers. When determining the proper tools for your technical staff you need to take into account the scope and scale of projects that the individual will be assigned.

Let the tool fit the application

An installer who specializes in predominately residential intrusion systems would likely need a basic set of hand tools (screw drivers, pliers, basic carpenter tools, such as hammer, hand saw, drywall saw, etc.), a cordless drill, with spare batteries and applicable charger and basic wood drill bits.

While a service technician would need all of these, they would also require a good digital multimeter and linemen’s headset at a minimum.

Both individuals would also need access to any manufacturer-specific testers which are applicable to any of the products they typically use.

Expand the scope of their work to include commercial applications and additional tools such as socket wrenches and masonry drills and bits would need to be included in their tool sets.

Installers may also be exposed to various powder actuated tools which literally “shoot” mounting hardware into the building structure. These tools typically require not only goggles, but manufacturer’s approved training.

As the scope expands to include electronic access control systems, installers need tools designed for cutting and mitering locks, including specialty saws and jigs and metal cutting drill bits.

With dealers expanding into more diverse installations, their projects will include video. Dealers now must not only understand the DC voltage nature of the system power, but the proper configuration of analog video signals (1 volt peak to peak) as they attempt to transmit video signals from camera to monitor, or recorder. This means investing in another group of tools designed to test video distribution.

Three excellent resources to consider:

  1. Product manufacturers--each product has a specified way to be installed and serviced and the manufacturer can tell you what type of tool or tester is needed to accomplish that within their prescribed parameters.
  2. Trade shows--while not as prominent as the other booths at these shows there are numerous manufacturers who regularly exhibit at these shows who have designed some unique labor saving tools available in the industry.
  3. NBFAA’s National Training School--each training program includes at least one chapter devoted to the proper tools needed for the various systems covered in the course.

So the next time you are trying to figure out how to make your company or staff more efficient or productive, maybe you should take a peek into your technical staff’s vehicle--it could be an enlightening experience and wake up call.

Dale R. Eller serves the NBFAA as Director of Education and Standards. A 25-plus year industry veteran, Eller’s firm ITZ Solutions! provides consulting, training and management services to NBFAA, PBFAA, PaFED, NYBFAA, Installation Quality Certification Program and WISE.