Could you tell our readers about hand tools designed for use in high-voltage environments, and how Snap-on differs from traditional insulated hand tools?
A typical insulated tool is a steel tool dipped in a layer of non-conductive coating. You’re holding a conductive material in your hand, but there’s a layer of non-conductive material that comes between you and the electricity. At Snap-on, we have a line of insulating tools. The difference is that instead of just a coating, our insulating tools themselves are made out of a non-conductive, composite material. This line primarily consists of screwdrivers and similar tools that are often used around electrical equipment. Our insulating tools are rated at 1,000V and tested to 10,000V.
How does the strength and durability of these tools compare with traditional hand tools or even insulated tools?
Our insulating tool line is the product of quite a bit of research, development and testing. These tools are designed to provide the same kind of strength you’d get with a standard tool. In some cases, composite tools can actually be stronger than standard steel tools. The design of our composite sockets, for example, is such that there is a metal insert inside of socket, but the whole body is built out of composite. The part of the tool that is actually on the fastener is metal, but the body is composite.
Would you say there is a distinct advantage, safety-wise, of Snap-on’s insulating tools when compared to traditional insulated tools?
Certainly. With insulated tooling, you run the risk of that non-conductive coating becoming compromised. You’re actually supposed to inspect them regularly, and even get them tested. If that coating becomes compromised, an arc can occur because the metal is exposed. That can be a dangerous situation. With composite tools, if they get chipped or scratched on the outside, you’re still safe because the entire tool is made out of non-conductive composite material. Speaking of safety, one of our core areas of emphasis is hand tool safety training. We find that many times, someone may be unknowingly putting himself at risk by using the wrong tool for a job. In our “Right Way Every Day” tool safety training program, we try to lessen that risk by encouraging our customers to always use the right tool for the job.
Can you give us an example of the risk of using the wrong tool?
Let’s say someone is working on a wind turbine. It’s fairly common that the person may not have the right tool because he left it in the truck or back at the shop. He needs to complete this task — not only on this turbine, but on others down the line. In this instance he decides to use a different tool that he has with him. Not only may that tool not be the best for the task, it may also be unsafe for the job he’s doing.
Are there any unique services that Snap-on is able to provide for its customers?
One of the things that we do very well is kit-building. We build custom tool kits for all different applications. For example, we have designed and built high-voltage tool kits — which included a variety of hand tools and insulating tools — and shipped a them to number of our wind power customers. That’s all done at our custom kitting center located in Kenosha, Wisc.
What other tools does Snap-on offer that may be of note to wind energy technicians working in electrical environments?
With regard to electrical applications, we have a complete line of electrical meters and testers. Also, we also carry a line of insulating gloves.