A little organization goes a long way at SAM

If one on my team members asks for the whereabouts of a tool more than once, then we have a breakdown in our organizational system and are wasting time. Stop and fix the system!”

Small, well organized teams can run circles around a larger, comparable entities, especially when their overhead is low and assets are well managed. Small teams respond to changing environments with less drag, and set course corrections by direction of a single leader or a raise of hands. But the means by which any size team organizes its “stuff”, analog and digital, determines if it holds accumulating assets or a growing burden.

Workshop at SAM SAM started with Kai Staats, Trent Tresch, a broom, two angle grinders and a face shield, two orbital sanders and a box of sand paper. Fast forward nearly three years and SAM is defined by a half acre of land, some 9,000 square feet in building space, and ample tools and supplies to fabricate just about anything in wood, plastic, or metal.

Storage system at SAM While we have maintained a regimen of organization, returning tools to their respective bins each evening and conducting a total inventory with the close of each week, we made due with the funds raised in each phase of development. We used plastic bins for tool storage and unused sheets of steel covered with cardboard as our workbench, just inside the north bay door of the Mars yard structure.

Storage system at SAM With advanced funding secured in July we saw an opportunity to improve our organization and related efficiency. We acquired a Husky mobile tool cart and a few more power tools to replace those yet on loan from our staff members. We gave new life to a discarded Biosphere 2 metal shop workbench topped with two sheets of recycled plywood. For us, this was a dream-come-true—our very own workbench and a dedicated tool cart.

The half day spent in building the workbench paid for itself in the first week. With the complete re-organization of every tool, bolt, nut, and washer; every strand of wire, every plumbing fitting, and every tube of silicone (Thank you Luna!) have dedicated, labeled bins and drawers.