Evolving tools and how to mount them with Performance Advantage Company

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Greg Young, Senior Vice President at Performance Advantage Company (PAC) discusses the evolution of equipment and its implications for tool mounting solutions

Can you start with a short introduction to PAC and your role?

PAC is a US-based product manufacturer with international reach, specialising in our own line of tool mounting systems and brackets.

Coming from a rich family history in fire truck manufacturing, we’ve leveraged strong industry knowledge to serve not only the fire service sector but have expanded beyond, including applications for the US Navy and various industries seeking tool organisation solutions.

Our growth is marked by innovation, adaptability, and the expansion of our product range to meet diverse needs, driven by both heritage and forward-thinking strategies.

As Senior Vice President at PAC, my responsibilities span across various operational and strategic areas.

I oversee the development and implementation of policies and procedures, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of all processes to address issues promptly and facilitate training.

With a background in product design, engineering, and project management, a significant part of my role involves identifying market needs—sometimes even before customers are aware of them—and conceptualising new products.

This involves coordinating with our engineering, marketing, and sales teams to bring these products to market effectively.

Part of my job is to continuously assess our product line for improvements, aiming to enhance versatility without compromising integrity, catering to evolving tools and technologies such as electric and hydraulic cutters.

Additionally, my role extends to acting as an ambassador for PAC, fostering relationships within the industry through associations like Fire Apparatus Manufacturers Association (FAMA) and engaging in discussions about emerging needs and trends.

Recognising the changing landscape, especially with the advent of electric vehicles and tools, emphasises the growing importance of efficient tool mounting systems.

My goal is to anticipate and respond to these shifts, ensuring PAC remains at the forefront of innovation and customer support.

Reflecting on the past year, how has the tool mounting sector evolved or changed?

The tool mounting sector has witnessed significant developments, largely influenced by the shift towards electrification.

This trend isn’t limited to electric vehicles but extends to bikes, scooters, buses, and a broad range of tools transitioning from internal combustion to electric.

A key challenge has been the diversity in battery platforms—some manufacturers have moved towards universal battery systems, while others continue developing proprietary ones, leading to issues with battery storage and charger compatibility.

Unlike standard fuel containers, battery and charger do not have standardised sizes, creating difficulties in adapting mounting solutions to these evolving specifications.

The introduction of electric tools and vehicles has caused us to rethink traditional tool mounting strategies, especially as new products like fire suppression blankets for lithium-ion battery fires enter the market.

These innovations raise questions about the size and adaptability of fire suppression tools, considering the varying dimensions of electric vehicles and the unique challenges they present, such as fires in confined spaces.

The sector is likely to see further evolution, driven by the need for rapid and efficient tool access in emergency situations.

The discussions around managing electric vehicle fires, including the requirement for significant water volumes and specialised equipment, highlight the urgency for adaptable and effective tool mounting solutions.

This evolution underscores the tool mounting sector’s critical role in ensuring quick, accessible, and suitable responses to new challenges in fire suppression and safety.

Can you tell me about PAC’s new extinguisher mounts?

We are introducing a new line of extinguisher mounts that are tailored to address the unique requirements of industrial environments and compact firefighting vehicles.

These mounts feature an enhanced grip diameter, accommodating up to six inches, making them suitable for the largest fire extinguishers or air bottles.

This expansion addresses a gap in our product range for securely mounting 10-pound extinguishers or water cans, offering a cost-effective solution without resorting to over-engineered alternatives designed for heavier equipment.

Our innovation extends to the Cylinder Mate, a robust storage solution for air bottles, ensuring their security, especially in the event of a vehicle crash.

However, its design, focused on air bottles, does not cater to extinguishers with attached hoses and triggers.

Recognising the diverse needs of industrial settings for various extinguishing agents, we’ve developed mounts that are more versatile and user-friendly compared to traditional steel mounts.

There is an industry trend towards smaller, more agile firefighting vehicles, and so our new mounts are poised to serve both traditional fire trucks and electric fire apparatus alongside light rescue vehicles.

These vehicles are increasingly common in industrial settings where rapid response to fires in hard-to-reach areas is critical.

Our mounts are designed to securely hold larger extinguishers, providing an ergonomic and accessible solution for a range of applications, from factory floors to compact urban vehicles, addressing emerging needs for extinguisher accessibility in various contexts including delivery vehicles carrying battery-powered devices.

Are there any other innovations from PAC you’d like to highlight?

We’ve established a presence in the marine market, supplying fire and rescue boats, and collaborating with EMS and law enforcement for their marine needs.

However, despite our expertise, direct marketing to the marine sector is new territory for us.

But the demand is growing organically, with marine operators already familiar with our products for their fleets.

We’re exploring how to better serve the marine market’s unique requirements, recognising this extends beyond fire service to recreational and commercial transportation.

This includes adapting our products for marine environments, focusing on ergonomics and safety to prevent injuries from sharp edges on ships.

Our goal is to offer a comprehensive marine product line that is both versatile and tailored to this sector’s specific needs.

We’re excited about the possibilities within the marine industry, and while the timeline for unveiling this new range is still uncertain, we’re focused on ensuring our offerings meet the high standards our customers expect from us.

Looking towards the future, what emerging trends or technologies do you believe will significantly influence the design and functionality of tool mounting systems?

Predicting future trends in tool mounting systems is challenging due to the rapid and unpredictable evolution of technology and global events, such as the advent of electric vehicles and the impact of the pandemic.

However, a likely focus for the future involves increased mandates for firefighter health and safety.

The emphasis on safety could lead to universal standards for securing tools and equipment on fire apparatus, addressing hazards from unsecured items during accidents.

The principle of improving response efficiency and safety through organised and secure tool mounting parallels the critical approach to vehicle maintenance, like the importance of tire integrity for road safety.

Just as vehicle inspections mandate certain safety standards, there’s a potential for future regulations to mandate specific tool mounting practices to enhance both firefighter safety and operational efficiency.

This vision aligns with the broader goal of minimising risks associated with firefighting operations, including the drive towards cleaner and safer fire truck cabs to reduce cancer risks and other health hazards.

My hope is for future research and regulations to account for the importance of secure tool mounting as a critical component of fire service safety protocols.

PAC has a strong presence in various sectors outside the traditional fire market.

Are there any markets or applications you are aiming to explore or expand into?

Our aim is to increase its focus on marine and industrial sectors.

Our experience has shown that clients often seek solutions after facing challenges, highlighting the need for better preparedness and organisation.

By positioning ourselves at the forefront, we aim to advise and equip these sectors in advance, ensuring they are ready for any situation.

This proactive approach will help prevent problems and enhances outcomes through readiness and training.

Additionally, we’re seeing growing interest from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) needing custom mounting solutions for their unique products, such as thermal imagers.

This area presents an opportunity for PAC to serve as a vital partner, offering specialised mounts that complement OEM products.

Emphasising flexibility and openness to these collaborations will be key to our strategy, allowing us to support OEM growth and expand our reach beyond traditional markets.

Finally, what are your plans at PAC moving forward?

We are focused on enhancing internal communication and leveraging technology to support our growth.

As we expand, identifying and strengthening areas of improvement is crucial.

In 2022, we initiated a transition to a new ERP system to modernise our operations.

Now the new system us fully operational, enhancing our efficiency in production, shipping, and overall management.

However, the full potential of the system is yet to be realised, with features like email marketing and website integration still to come.

An immediate goal of mine is to fully train our staff on the system’s capabilities, ensuring they can use all its functions effectively.

This includes maintaining our core processes as well as exploring advanced features to improve customer engagement.

By harnessing the ERP system, we aim to provide real-time stock visibility and self-service options for quotes and pricing on our website, elevating our service level.

Another significant aspect of our strategy involves better understanding and connecting with our customer base, identifying specific market segments and dealer affiliations within our clientele.

This approach will allow us to tailor our interactions and support more effectively, strengthening our relationships with customers and enhancing our market presence.

This article was originally published in the March 2024 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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