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SEARS INDUSTRIAL: HAND TOOLS THEN AND NOW.

Hand tools are as critical to industrial maintenance engineers today as they were 60 years ago. And while modern tools often look similar to their predecessors, today's models perform better.

In 1905 the Society of Automotive Engineers, established standards for hand tools that still govern the basic appearance of most hand tools. But by 1940 innovations in design and materials made hand tools more efficient, a trend that has accelerated over the past 60 years. The first tools in the U.S. were cast iron. With the advent of forging steel, tool makers copied old cast iron designs, making heavy, clumsy tools. In 1927 Craftsman introduced lighter, sleeker designs that took advantage of steel's strength and malleability.

For instance, the 1940 Craftsman socket set was a huge improvement over the 1914 set. The sockets from the different eras looked similar and conformed to measurement standards, but by 1940 the time-saving ratchet was included. Similarly, the 1940 Craftsman wrench was an improvement over the 1914 variety. The shaft was straight. The wrench was chrome-plated and lighter, due to new forging techniques. But today's Quick Wrench also acts like a ratchet, so the user no longer needs to remove and reposition the tool between turns.

Another example is the Craftsman Slip-Joint pliers from 1940. The 1940 version is an improvement over the 1914 adjustable wrench for auto assembly, but still a far cry from the self-adjusting RoboGrip pliers of today, which include a cam mechanism that adjusts the jaws as the handle is squeezed.

By World War II, Craftsman was the established brand among large manufacturers, government and vocational schools, and a major contributor to the war effort. Certain Craftsman power tools were reserved exclusively for defense. Sears Industrial Sales was established to serve the needs of government and major manufacturers.

Sears Industrial Sales, like Craftsman tools, has evolved since the 1940s. Then they worked out of offices in Sears retail stores, with local inventory. Today the sales force is backed up by a 135,000-sq. ft. National Order Processing Center which houses one of the largest tool inventories in the industry. Account managers in the field no longer just sell tools. They help customers design custom tool sets, often with tool storage that includes custom foam tool organizers; develop time-saving e-commerce programs; establish tool inventory management systems; plan tool room storage and organization; and help with Foreign Object Damage prevention programs and ISO9000 programs, none of which existed 60 years ago.
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Publication:Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation
Date:May 1, 2000
Words:410
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