You’ve probably heard the expression “When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything becomes a nail.” Of course, you’re prepared for more sophisticated jobs, but it’s amazing to see how often even the most well-equipped tech buys new tools. I’m not talking about replacing something that’s worn out, broken or lost. Even in this world of cross-platform technology where, for instance, the same brake system is fitted to dozens of vehicles made by different manufacturers, allowing you to use the same tools on every car, it’s still remarkable how many new tools are invented each year.
To be sure, most are to answer changing technology. When direct-measure tire pressure monitoring systems became mandatory in 2008, suddenly you needed a TPMS sensor scanner just to rotate tires. New technology isn’t limited to electronics, because engineers are constantly searching for new and interesting ways to stuff things into smaller spaces. With every new model, we need new iron tools just to reach standard fasteners. And of course, new specialty tools are invented every year to help us deal with both new and old technologies.
Ideas for new tools come from two places; from companies that make them and from the minds of people who use them every day. Often they are one and the same, but in all my time in this industry, technicians are the most resourceful and innovative group of people I’ve met. It’s no surprise though; that’s the nature of people who use tools every day, and I’m proud to say I’ve made a few of my own.
There is one tool that’s used by everyone: communication. Whether it’s written, spoken, broadcast on the radio or presented in a training video, communication is the most important tool ever devised by Man. Without it, we would still be doing little more with tools than pounding things into submission. And the thing we communicate that has allowed us to advance beyond hammers is information. Whether it’s as common as a weather report or as arcane as a MAF sensor frequency spec, everyone uses information every day to make decisions, to make plans, to make money. The information you hold in your hands right now is intended to help you do all of that and more.
In the months ahead, we’ll be using some new and innovative communication tools to present the information you expect from us, plus a few ideas that haven’t been reported here before. Much of that information is about new tools, the kind you use in your shop, and over the years we’ve been using a unique way of recognizing tools worthy of special attention.
One of them is our annual Innovation Awards, in which we recognize and report on newly-invented (or reinvented) tools and products that address your needs with unusual creativity and innovation. What makes this award unique is that the winners are chosen based on the opinions of technicians and shop owners, not editors. After seeing the 92 entries that we’ve received, we can say that picking the winners this year will be a tough task. The companies that make these tools know they have to earn your purchase, and it shows in their approach to helping you solve problems.
Of course, sometimes the solution is to just use a bigger hammer. We’ll be sure to tell you when we find a new one.