Market analysis: Tool mounting and storage


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International Fire and Safety Journal analyses the current state of the equipment storage industry

Over the course of the pandemic, attitudes towards the storage and maintenance of equipment have changed. There has always been a level of emphasis on keeping departments and vehicles as safe and clean as possible, and the storage of equipment plays a key role in this. The pandemic put hygiene under the microscope, and this is surely to be exacerbated following the declaration from the World Health Organisation agency that the act of firefighting is carcinogenic.

As attitudes have changed, more departments have looked to incorporate better storage and maintenance solutions so potentially dangerous equipment is stored safely away from crew members.

The renewed focus on cleanliness follows a pivotal year in the firefighting equipment and maintenance storage industry as post-pandemic issues plaguing all manufacturers including labour and material shortages and shipping delays continue across the globe.

Supply chain issues

Despite economic worries as a result of the pandemic or otherwise, emergency services remain a critical asset and it is an asset that must be maintained and continuously improved. Like all manufacturers, the equipment storage industry’s ability to keep the pipeline full has been impacted by raw material shortages, labour shortages and other supply chain issues. Whilst great efforts have been made to keep materials stocked, there have been unavoidable delays and shortages due to unpreventable circumstances.

Greg Young, Vice President at Performance Advantage Company, said: “For us the supply chain issues haven’t been too bad – our products are made within this part of the US so we’ve been well poised to survive those shortages.

“However, some of our suppliers have been impacted because they’re using chemicals or additives or components sourced worldwide so some of their operations have been impacted by material shortages just like everyone else. In addition to the labour shortages that have been plaguing all manufacturers, we’re waiting for freight to be picked up, to be shipped – it’s been quite a struggle in those regards.”

New equipment

A growing consideration for equipment storage manufacturers comes in the form of new technology. As departments increasingly shift away from hydraulic-powered equipment to battery powered equipment – which are generally larger as they need to accommodate the battery – the question is whether or not their existing products are capable of securely holding new equipment or if new solutions must be developed.

Greg Young says that PAC does not design products specifically for one brand or model: “Tool manufacturers innovate and change. Different manufacturers become popular and their design for the tool might be different than the last. What we prefer to do is invest in products that accommodate a wide variety of the chosen brands in the field. Even when a new tool comes into the market we are fairly confident that our existing line will accommodate the geometry that would be present on another axe or tool.”

Regional considerations

Another issue is the need for storage and maintenance equipment to remain flexible to reflect the needs of each individual department. Across the world each department will operate with different equipment and PPE and different vehicles. In many cases, storage equipment must be able to be produced bespoke to the department. Depending on the needs of the local fire department, they have needs to mount fire tools – and it may not be on fire trucks.

Different regions will require vehicles depending on the terrain firefighting teams will be operating on, whether its using motorbikes, boats, or even bespoke-designed transit vans which are becoming more popular in Asian countries. In terms of regions there are the likes of wildland, urban settings, industrial settings – all of which will have different types of vehicles and different types of equipment, not to mention budgets as well. There are a wide variety of factors that go into tool mounting solutions that would be selected for each.

Greg Young says that PAC recently worked with an OEM to develop a solution for a custom-designed firefighting vehicle: “We have worked with sprinter vans – small transit vans – and there are some departments in Asian countries that have turned those into rescue vehicles and built their own fire trucks.”

Looking ahead

With the short-term effects of the pandemic still waning, it is likely that the changes in attitude will carry on into the future. More departments may look to find solutions to store their equipment in their department and on vehicles in a safe way that keeps any hazardous substances away from firefighting crew.

Manufacturers involved in tool storage and maintenance products will be tasked with keeping up to date with the latest equipment changes to reflect the developing products in departments. With increasing innovation in tool development, innovation can also continue within tool mounting and storage equipment. As such, the industry looks set to be in a strong position as we near the end of 2022, which could result in an uptick in sales across the globe.

This article was originally published in the August edition of IFSJ. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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