Diversity & Inclusion

DEWALT tech is helping Baltimore Community ToolBank keep COVID-19 response safe

It shows a prominent Baltimore corporate citizen working with a community nonprofit, and bringing an extra layer of safety in the pandemic.

Tracking tools at the Baltimore Community ToolBank. (Courtesy photo)

During a community service project at the Baltimore Community ToolBank last October, Noah Smock and Matt Velderman got talking about tech.

As they were building cubicles, Velderman, who is the director of marketing for platforms and innovation at Stanley Black & Decker, mentioned to Smock, who is the Pigtown-based ToolBank’s executive director, that there was a platform among the company’s more recently developed tools that could be useful. With the nonprofit checking in and out lots of different tools and supplies to the community all the time, Velderman saw a way for DEWALT Tool Connect to help.

DEWALT, which is owned by Stanley Black and Decker and has a base in Towson, developed the inventory management system in 2015 to allow folks to track tools with bluetooth enabled tracker tags and batteries, as well as a corresponding app. The offer to pilot the customizable platform showed one of Baltimore’s prime corporate citizens offering a bit of its ingenuity for a local nonprofit.

“At first we were just excited for what it would mean to our workflow,” Smock said. Then came the pandemic, where it took on a new kind of usefulness. “The safety piece becomes super apparent when we’re in this new reality.”

The system offered a key component to power an operation that has provided supplies used by more than 15,000 people locally: The ToolBank offered things like tables and chairs for testing centers and food distribution, power tools that helped build out new treatment centers and Wi-Fi hotspots for educators.

For one, it allowed the ToolBank to adjust to a contactless world. Setting up systems where folks touch things as few times as possible is often a prime concern for efficiency around such operations. But now it was a safety imperative.

In the pandemic, the team has folks who borrow supplies drop them off outside, where the materials would be subject to their own kind of quarantine. With Tool Connect, they could check in the materials without having to go outside to greet anyone. The equipment is also tracked digitally inside the ToolBank now, and the team can track how long the materials have been back in quarantine before being lent out again. That was important, Smock said, especially at a time when it was continuing essential work and lending out supplies at COVID-19 testing sites where contact with the virus might have been a risk. And if there’s a need for contact tracing, there’s now a record of where the tool has been.

The ToolBank has also given feedback to DEWALT to help iterate over time, as ToolConnect can be customized for specific needs. Going forward, Smock said the platform could also help to show folks interested in borrowing tools how the supplies have been used for a “two months in the life of the tool”-style feature.

The two organizations have long had a partnership, as DEWALT supported Community ToolBank locations around the country even before the local operation opened in 2012. Working with the local branch directly to deploy its technology, Velderman said, “exemplified the COVID use case for us.”

Companies: Stanley Black & Decker

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