The first thought that the word "secure" brings to the minds
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Not typically considered under this subject, equipment must be made secure from damages. These occur most often from poor (or no) equipment protection, improper packing and from rough handling. Secured gear lasts much longer.
- Cases: Everything should be packed into an appropriate case or box. "Gig" bags just aren't good enough because they don't have rigid sides and aren't moisture tight. A case protects and holds parts should they come off during transit. For more on this subject, see the discussions of Cases and Internal Dividers at: The Kits section.
- Padding: Metal or wooden cases need to have some sort of internal cushioning to soften the movement of the items inside. Even thin carpet is better than the plain, inside walls of a case. There should be padding between items, but a better solution is for each one to be in its own box or compartment. These too, should be cushioned inside as necessary.
Suggested padding materials are sponge foam or rigid foam fitted to the item. Carpet works but probably should not be used for sensitive items prone to be easily damaged. Use thicker carpet with a sponge backing, whenever possible, or use a thick carpet underlay with carpet on top. Underlay by itself tends to shred easily.
- Maintenance: If equipment is beginning to come apart, maintain it. The above cases and padding won't prevent parts from loosening, although they will at least contain them should they dislodge in transit. See Equipment Maintenance in the AIEL Shop TIps section.
- Handling: On a smaller gig, one has more hands-on oversight regarding the equipment, but at larger shows with truck loads of gear and many workers, this is less likely. Cases with proper padding and having been packed properly go a long way to preventing damage, but one needs to be vigilant when loading in and out especially when cases with spillable fluid are concerned.
- Caution Signs: Not every crew member knows or understands the fragility of every piece of gear. Warning signs can help here, but don't over use them. Too many signs mean that the crew may eventually ignore them or read them too quickly for them to be fully effective. Choose the most crucial locations for warning signs.
First realise that most "thefts" are not intentional. Many times what is blamed on theft is actually a situation where items got lost, forgotten after a show, or loaned out and not returned for innocent, though irresponsible, reasons. Some things are taken because a person thinks it belongs to him. Other times, items are simply returned to the wrong person's case.
A good anti-theft / anti-loss policy begins by colour-coding and labeling everything. This eliminates mistaken identity and makes it more likely that borrowed items will come back to you -- or at least someone associated with you. Choose distinctive colours and labels by first researching what is used by those venues, groups and individuals with which you will typically have contact. Then select colours not used by them so that you will have unique identifiers. (See Colour Code Everything in the Tips Grabbag.)
Next, have a place for everything and be sure that each is filled at the end of a show with its complete inventory of item(s). It's much easier to notice something missing if its place is empty, as opposed to viewing a cluttered catch-all case full of items -- some of which might not be there.
Inventory your equipment regularly. To make that easier, have inventory sheets inside the covers of each case or keep a log at your shop for the same. Inventory sheets within cases make it more likely that contents will be tallied regularly, though.
How many screw drivers and pliers have been forgotten on girders or in the space above drop-tile ceilings? Those "thefts" are really just items forgotten by a worker or borrower, or ones that were passed to so many others, that the last person in line has no idea to whom the item belongs. (This is the best example of why things need to be colour coded and labeled with your identifiers. Again, refer to The Tips Grabbag.)
If you carry many small things as outlined in the Kits section of Tech Tips, you may find people helping themselves to your things. This is especially true if you work a venue on a regular basis and/or work with the same people over and over. If your stuff is identified, it is more likely to come back to you.
There is no excuse for larger items not being returned. Still, they should be identified. Use stencils and bigger labels as necessary.
This can be a premeditated act, but impulse cannot be ruled out. Realise that "valuable" means more than just dollar value. Indispensable accessories can be worth more than a kilo-dollar piece of equipment if their losses would translate to being show stoppers. To lessen thefts:
- Lock: Keep valuables locked away until they are needed.
- Hide: Even without a lock, valuables are better protected when not seen. Keep them out of sight inside cases. Boxes within cases make for even better security because thieves don't want to take the time to remove a box from a case. This is especially true when they find upon opening the inside box, see yet another one contained within.
- Guard: For the most valuable equipment, never let any go out of the sight of a trusted tech. These mean laptops and specialty tools, but also smaller items such as flashdrives, flashlights and electrical testers or meters.
- Face the points of tools the same way inside a tool kit. This also makes the kit more intuitive, and it means that regular workers become used to which way the pointed ends face. Very sharp points and edges should be protected with guards or kept in sheaths.
- Solvents and cleaners should be well marked and stored in unbreakable, leak-proof bottles. Many are flammable, poisonous or caustic. Industrial Hydrogen Peroxide can redden skin quickly, and Methyl Ethyl Keytone can melt corneas in seconds!
- Footwear should be suitable: Steel toes for loading and lifting equipment, aggressive treads for climbing, waterproof if outside, insulated if in cold weather.
- Gloves should suit the purpose as well. Generally a glove that fits properly, protects the hands for the purpose used, and lasts the length of a tour or season is required. (See Work Gloves in the AIEL Purchase Guide.)
- Have a tool belt and a wrench lanyard. Tools are more accessible from a belt than a pocket. A lanyard prevents a wrench from falling if dropped. See Additional Accessories.
- Pinch points need to be observed and eliminated, or cordoned off whenever possible.
- Maintain a constant, familiar setup so that regular workers feel more at home. They will work safer and more efficiently in familiar surroundings.
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