Tool mounts of tomorrow with Performance Advantage Company

May 7, 2024

Greg Young, Senior Vice President at Performance Advantage Company explores new tool mounting technologies to improve safety and efficiency in firefighting 

The dynamic shift in technology and tools in the fire sector is a challenge that companies like Performance Advantage Company (PAC) are meeting head-on with advanced mounting solutions. PAC, a leading U.S.-based manufacturer known for its specialised tool mounting systems and brackets, has carved a niche in providing essential equipment not only for firefighting but also for military and industrial applications.  

“Our growth trajectory has been shaped by a deep-seated commitment to innovation, driven by our extensive family background in fire truck manufacturing and a broad industry insight,” says Greg Young, Senior Vice President at PAC. 

Adapting to electrification 

The tool mounting sector has undergone transformations in recent years, particularly in response to the increasing shift towards electrification: “This trend isn’t confined to electric vehicles but includes bikes, scooters, buses, and a range of tools transitioning from internal combustion engines to electric,” explains Young. This shift has impacted how tool mounting solutions are developed and implemented. 

One of the major challenges involves the diversification of battery platforms. “Some manufacturers are moving towards universal battery systems, while others continue to develop proprietary ones,” he notes, pointing out the resulting compatibility issues with battery storage and chargers. The lack of standardization in battery sizes and charger configurations has necessitated a rethink of traditional tool mounting strategies to accommodate these new dimensions and specifications. 

The introduction of electric tools and the corresponding safety equipment, such as fire suppression blankets specifically designed for lithium-ion battery fires, presents new challenges for PAC: “These innovations compel us to reconsider the size and adaptability of fire suppression tools, especially given the varying dimensions of electric vehicles and the unique challenges they pose, such as fires in confined spaces,” says Young. 

The discussion around managing fires involving electric vehicles, which require substantial volumes of water and specialised equipment: “Highlights the tool mounting sector’s essential role in ensuring quick, accessible, and appropriate responses to the emerging challenges in fire suppression and safety,” Young adds. 

Extinguisher mount innovation 

PAC is constantly expanding its firefighting equipment portfolio, one of the latest additions being a new line of extinguisher mounts, designed to meet the increasing demands of both industrial environments and compact firefighting vehicles.  

The new mounts feature an enhanced grip diameter, accommodating up to six inches, which makes them suitable for the largest fire extinguishers or air bottles. This design innovation addresses a previously unmet need within PAC’s product range, offering a cost-effective solution for securely mounting 10-pound extinguishers or water cans. “This expansion offers a practical solution without resorting to over-engineered alternatives designed for heavier equipment,” Young explains. 

Recognizing the diverse needs of different industrial settings, PAC has developed mounts that are more versatile and user-friendly compared to traditional steel mounts. These are particularly relevant in the context of a trend towards smaller, more agile firefighting vehicles. 

These innovations are timely, as industrial settings increasingly require rapid response solutions for fires in hard-to-reach areas. “From factory floors to compact urban vehicles, our mounts address emerging needs for extinguisher accessibility in various contexts, including delivery vehicles carrying battery-powered devices,” Young adds. 

Strategic expansion 

A new horizon is emerging for PAC as the company ventures into the marine market: “We’ve established a presence in the marine market, supplying fire and rescue boats, and collaborating with EMS and law enforcement for their marine needs,” Young notes, indicating a natural progression based on existing expertise. 

Despite this familiarity, Young highlights direct marketing to the marine sector as being ‘a new territory’. The demand for PAC’s products is, however, growing organically among marine operators, who are already familiar with the robustness and reliability of their equipment in other sectors. 

“We’re exploring how to better serve the marine market’s unique requirements,” Young explains. This initiative includes adapting existing products to be more suitable for marine conditions—emphasizing ergonomics and safety to prevent injuries commonly associated with the harsh conditions on ships. 

Future directions in tool mounting 

As the firefighting sector continues to innovate, PAC remains committed to anticipating and adapting to future trends. Young discusses the emerging trends, but Young notes that: “Predicting future trends in tool mounting systems is challenging due to the rapid and unpredictable evolution of technology and global events, such as the advent of electric vehicles and the impact of the pandemic.” 

One area of focus for the future, as highlighted by Young, involves increased mandates for firefighter health and safety. This emphasis on safety: “Could lead to universal standards for securing tools and equipment on fire apparatus, addressing hazards from unsecured items during accidents,” Young comments. 

The principle of enhancing response efficiency and safety through organized and secure tool mounting draws a parallel with critical approaches to vehicle maintenance: “Just as vehicle inspections mandate certain safety standards, there’s a potential for future regulations to mandate specific tool mounting practices to enhance both firefighter safety and operational efficiency,” he asserts. 

This vision aligns with the broader goal of minimizing risks associated with firefighting operations. The drive towards cleaner and safer fire truck cabs, for instance, aims to reduce cancer risks and other health hazards associated with the profession. “My hope is for future research and regulations to account for the importance of secure tool mounting as a critical component of fire service safety protocols,” Young adds 

Diverse markets and unique challenges 

PAC is broadening its reach beyond the traditional fire market, targeting strategic expansions into industrial sectors as well as collaborating with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Young outlines the company’s approach to these new markets.  

PAC’s strategy involves advising and equipping these sectors in advance, ensuring they are fully prepared for any scenario. “By positioning ourselves at the forefront, we aim to advise and equip these sectors in advance, ensuring they are ready for any situation,” explains Young. 

Additionally, PAC is responding to a growing demand from OEMs that require custom mounting solutions for their unique products, such as thermal imagers. He notes: “This area presents an opportunity for PAC to serve as a vital partner, offering specialised mounts that complement OEM products.” He adds:  “Emphasizing flexibility and openness to these collaborations will be key to our strategy.”  

Strategic plans and technological advancements 

As PAC continues to grow, Young outlines the company’s forward-looking strategies aimed at bolstering internal operations and enhancing customer relationships. Central to these initiatives is the improvement of internal communication and the effective use of technology to support PAC’s growth trajectory. 

In 2022, PAC initiated a shift in its operational backbone by transitioning to a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system designed to modernise various aspects of its operations. “Now the new system is fully operational, enhancing our efficiency in production, shipping, and overall management,” Young explains. However, he notes that the journey towards fully leveraging this system’s capabilities is ongoing, with plans to integrate advanced features such as email marketing and website integration still on the horizon.  

A key component of PAC’s strategic plan involves a deeper understanding and connection with its customer base, identifying specific market segments and dealer affiliations within its clientele. This targeted approach will allow PAC to tailor its interactions and support more effectively, ultimately strengthening relationships with customers and enhancing its presence in the market, says Young 

Through these initiatives, PAC is set to refine its operational efficiencies and customer engagements, ensuring the company remains at the forefront of innovation and service in the tool mounting and firefighting equipment sectors.  

Young shares his future vision for PAC: “The broader goal is to minimize risks associated with firefighting operations, including the drive towards cleaner and safer fire truck cabs to reduce cancer risks and other health hazards. My hope is for future research and regulations to account for the importance of secure tool mounting as a critical component of fire service safety protocols.” 

This article was originally published in the May 2024 issue of Fire & Safety Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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