This question is very obvious to those who has a physical tool box. While those who has never owned one at home or due to their work might became confused due to this question. However, any quick answer will limit your tools. Moreover, can you use the tools you own? Can you use them fully?
What are your tools?
What comes to mind directly is a device that aids in accomplishing a task. Your mind pops up the image of the tool that is the most frequent in your life. example, a screw drive or a drill. Those who work in an industrial environment can expand the idea to include bigger and more sophisticated tools as the laser alignment or the infrared imaging camera. The diversification of tools is very wide and depends mainly on the discipline you are in.
A cable splicing technician can easily detect the size of power transmission cable prepare the needed terminations, crimping tool and insulation material. Insulation material will depend on the level of voltage and the laying environment. The technician need to know the set of tools within his reach and where & when to use each one. This technician actually has three (3) sets of tools. One set is the physical one of the physical tools for cutting, preparing, crimping, and reinsulating. This set varies as we said based on the level of voltage and the environment and nature of the operation; is the cable buried or in a panel? and whether he is splicing it or terminating it? Here is a nice guide from 3M about that.
The second set of tools includes the knowledge and the standards.
This knowledge and standards allows him to understand the proper termination for different type of cables whether stranded or solid conductor cables and the size of terminal and power of crimping. Moreover, the standards or recommendations tells him the length he needs to remove from the insulation and what to do with the different layers of insulation and shielding.
The third set of tools are the skills.
The skills link the knowledge to the physical world. He needs the skills to use to tools properly and safely. The skills to understand the standard and, to be conscious about the environment he is working in. The intelligence and decision making are also skills. He need to decide whether it is better to use the higher size crimping die or the lower one? Having the sense of numbers and number conversions between inches and millimeters and so on is also crucial. You can delve more into the dilemma of skills skill sets and knowledge in those previous chats:
- Seamless Knowledge transfer – Maintenance Management 102
- Who withholds the knowledge ? part1
- Part 2- Why they withhold the Knowledge?
How may the set of tools vary for same job title?
Think now of a telecommunication cable splicing technician. His physical set of tools will include different cutting and insulation removal tools. Moreover, think of the nowadays optical fiber communication cables that are available everywhere. The physical set of tools and testing varies dramatically. The drawings and connection diagrams vary a lot. Even the muscle effort needed to lay this cable and connecting it varies a lot. As per the U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS, those two technicians are summed up under “Line Installers and Repairers”. In the duties of the telecommunications technician there is a duty of “Set up service for customers”. This technician needs the soft skill of dealing with a diversified community. And, the skill of setting up their telecommunication receivers and distributers. Those skills are not part of the power cable line installer and repairer as per the Bureau of Labor. However the power cable installer might be more skilled at the safety precautions of electrical power and working at heights.
How the tool boxes vary in one work place?
Normally one workplace includes more than one disciplines. However small the workplace is, if it has more than one employee, then they have some different responsibilities in between them. Well, in one maintenance team, you find those working in the field, teams leaders, planners, a manager and, a one or more engineers. You may find other positions as reliability engineers, predictive maintenance specialists and so on. Each of them has his own set of tasks that requires a set of tools that varies a lot. Maintenance job positions in general requires a good understanding of the maintenance tools. However, the deep knowledge of the usage of each tool might be not necessary.
A planner might know the tools needed for each job whether from his own experience, from the maintenance system or from the manuals. But, he doesn’t need to have the skill to use any of them in his tools’ box. On the other hand, he might be the only one in the maintenance team with proficient skills in using scheduling software. A manager need to have a tool to record and track his own tasks and the tasks that he distribute to others. He need the skill of self disciplines as an example for his team. He needs some intelligence and promptitude.
In case you moved your attention out of the shop platform to the accountants or the purchasers, you would find a total different tool box that might not include the usage of any physical tool except their computers or their company provided cars.
Are you aware of the tools you have?
Whether it is a set of skills or a set of physical tools or a wealth of collected knowledge, are you aware of the tools within your hands?
That’s the real illusion in our work and in our life outside it as well. We spend hours and hours at work. We do a lot of tasks repeatedly and consistently. Do you know that your ability to be consistent is a crucial factor for success? If you are an athlete, this would be your number one skill to improve and win a race. The simple conscious awareness of the physical tools (whether hardware or software) available at our reach and the know how to use them opens the door for infinite possibilities to improve and take control of your life. Same applies for your personal soft skills.
The question: What are your tools? might take you by surprise. And, you see your mind drifted to the physical hardware as your measurement tools, your computer and may be your swiss army knife. However the word tool actually means whatever aids you to accomplish a task. Your knowledge and skills are the most valuable tools in your tools’ box. The simple conscious awareness of tools available at our reach and the know how to use them opens the door for infinite possibilities to improve and take control of our life.