Slamming the door on theft

The cost of theft is often higher than the value of the tools themselves, which is why it pays to invest in security measures – so says Michael Brown from Metal and Modular, the specialist in safety, security and materials handling equipment.

According to research based on figures from police forces across the UK, tool theft costs almost £95 million each year. Anyone who has fallen victim to tool theft will know that the value of a tool is not just in the price of a replacement, but in its availability on site when the programme is tight and there’s work to be done. When a tool is stolen, it needs to be replaced, and quickly.

Counting costs
It’s often the knock-on consequences of tool theft that are the most damaging. The cost of replacement is onerous, and the higher value and more specialist the equipment, the harder it is to replace. There may also be a sentimental value to the lost item. A tool that has served you well for years is hard to replace with a brand new alternative that may be a different model or may not respond in quite the same way.

In some cases, there may be more than one replacement tool to find. One of the incidents that inspired the Metal and Modular Tool Vault range was the theft of 22 cordless drill batteries from site in a single theft. Finding one replacement was not a major undertaking, but replacing 22 batteries of exactly the same make and model, each with a hefty price tag, was almost impossible.

Prevention is better than cure, and the main contractor will usually have invested in security measures such as CCTV and access control systems to reduce the risk of theft and trespass for everyone on site. On smaller sites, however, security is often minimal. In either scenario, lightweight, portable equipment remains an easy target for casual thieves and site break-ins, so it’s essential to take additional steps to protect these vulnerable items.

Reducing risk
Tool vaults are a robust and convenient solution for protecting tools on site, and can even be used to safeguard workers’ personal possessions, such as mobile phones. It’s important to look for the right model to suit the site and the team’s requirements, and your hire equipment specialist will be able to advise on the best solution for your project.

The first consideration is selecting the right size of tool vault for both the number of operatives on site and the amount and size of equipment they have. It may be more appropriate to use two or more smaller units than to locate everything centrally, depending on site layout and deployment of staff. Metal and Modular’s Tool Vault range is available in three sizes: large, medium and small, each with two fixed and two castoring wheels for ease of positioning, and a foot brake to prevent rolling. This ensures that contractors can select a single tool vault or a combination of units to suit site requirements.

As security is the main purpose of the unit, it should have a robust locking system. The medium and large Tool Vaults in our range have key-operated five-lever deadlocks, specified to the British Standard, while the small Tool Vault has two fixed padlocks or two stainless steel 6-pin ultra secure cylinder locks. All three sizes have also been designed to safeguard against forced entry, with anti-theft doors that have double returns to prevent forced opening. 

A number of additional safety and convenience features have also been built into our range. The lids are positively charged with gas springs to ensure the lid stays up when the unit is open, preventing any finger-trapping hazard. All three sizes include an opening to allow cables to be fed into the unit to charge tools or mobile phones securely while the unit is locked.

Combined solution
Not all site storage requirements are entirely related to security issues – sometimes there is a need to simply keep everything neat and tidy too. The Metal and Modular Small Tool vault includes a tray for small items like tape measures and screw drivers, and it is designed for neat storage of small fittings.

Just as robust as the Metal and Modular Tool Vault range, with anti-theft doors and a robust locking system, the fittings cabinet includes shelves and removable storage bins, which are ideal for bolts, screws, connectors, etc. 

This not only makes it easier to find what you need quickly and easily, but also aids stock checking and a neat and tidy site. The lower shelf can be locked in an upright position to allow tools to be stored in the same unit, and the same clever design touches found in the tool vault range have been included, such as the cable opening for charging equipment while the unit is locked.

Practical approach
Avoiding the impact of tool theft on costs and productivity is essential for any heating or plumbing contractor, and secure tool vaults or fittings cabinets offer a practical solution.


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