11.5.21 -SSI – Bob Dolph
Proper tools selection and use will allow technicians to do neater and more efficient installations and service, says tech expert Bob Dolph.
I would like to take a moment and paraphrase a famous line from a Batman movie. In this case, instead of the Joker speaking about Batman, someone comments about a technician, stating, “Where does he get those glorious tools?” Yes, I have saved one of the most exciting topics in our yearly quest for a technician’s best practices. The topic for this month is simply, tools.
Some of you may have caught my presentation, “50 Tools in 50 Minutes,” I did at ISC West 2019. You may have also noticed over the past 20 years the backbone theme of most Tech Talk columns is recommending a variety of trade tools to make a tech’s life easier and more productive.
As I have previously commented in my presentation, tools are more than just items like screwdrivers and pliers. A professional technician must understand how to correctly use both standard, and in our trade, specialized tools. Tools come in many flavors and types as we will shortly see. Proper tools selection and use will allow technicians to do neater and more efficient installations and service.
Installation Tools are critical. A good and experienced tech will have just the right tools to carry on an installation. It is not the quantity, but the quality of the tools selected. Sounds simple, however, it can often take a tech years of trial and error to find the right comfortable combination of installation tools. One can save time by exploring what others use and select. One valuable tools resource for such information are Facebook groups. Search the platform for “Alarm Tech Memes” and “Low Voltage Tools Addicts” in the groups section.
Some of my favorite installation tools are the Mille-Tie and TY-Rap Tote Gun ERG-50. One should try to also select quality multitools. This way, one tool can do many tasks. Some to look at are the Leatherman Wave+ (18 tools in one) and the Picquic Super 8 Plus.
Make sure to pick quality tools that will last. It may initially cost a bit more but it is worth it. I still have my Klein lineman’s pliers after more than 50 years. Another good way to get started is to look at multitool kits such as the Klein 41-piece tool kit. Power tools are a must for every installation pro. One popular item that fellow techs recommend is the Milwaukee M12 ¼-inch hex screwdriver (see tool of the month).
Productivity Tools are next on the list. All tech tools should include devices that make installations more organized and efficient. One example of this is the Bucket Boss parachute parts bag. Another is the Milwaukee PACKOUT modular storage systems.
Saving time and money with cabling is always a must. Using tools such as the MagnePull can save up to 70% installation time. Another favorite of mine is the LSD Wet Noodle for cable wall fishing. Making fast, yet good quality cable terminations is always a challenge. To help with this one might apply the EZ-RJ45 HD crimp tool and associated RJ45 connectors for a clean and fast connector installation.
Resource Tools might not seem like an actual tool at first. However, using valuable resources are actually important tools for the goal-minded best practices technician. Quality of work matters. Being part of a good quality control program, such as the IQ Certification installation/service program from The Monitoring Association (TMA) is important for us pros.
Universal Tools are tools and products that every tech should carry in their truck. They are designed to fit across all types of projects and installations. They are designed to apply to various systems and hence identify as universal. A good example of this is the ELK 912 relay module, as relays are always needed to modify installation performance demands. Another is the ELK 965 low battery cutoff switch to help in not discharging SLA batteries.
Testing Tools are critical for making sure that installations are performing as specified. Some can be very expensive and one might want to look at renting such testing equipment for special projects. However, basic testing tools should not be the cheapest but should meet a minimum standard of performance and safety goals. Some examples of testing tools are Inovonics EN7017 survey kit for wireless installations, the PoE Texas Gen2 PoE tester and must-have appropriate acoustical glass-break detector testers such as the Honeywell FG701 Glassbreak Simulator.
I have tried to highlight some of my favorite tools that should be considered by every technician trying to achieve that goal of best practices. This of course is only a small sampling of the many tools available. I hope that I have at least helped in the creation of your “best practices” tool profile.
Tool of the Month
Today’s power tools are one of the best tools for the best practices technician. Which is why this month, I have selected the M12 ¼-inch hex screwdriver from Milwaukee Tools.
It is very popular with techs as it has 175 inch-pounds of torque, weighs only 2 pounds, and features a runtime battery gauge and REDLITHIUM battery technology.