How To Keep Track of Tools and Equipment
If your business uses a lot of tools and equipment, keeping track of inventory will be no easy task. From small tools like hammers to saws and big equipment like rollers/cement mixers, individual equipment tracking becomes a huge concern for the organization.
Deviations from the record can cause a delay in project completion. Tool data irregularity can cause Shutdowns, Turnarounds, and Outages (STO’s) where the cost of project completion becomes 3-4 times the actual cost.
This may lead to inaccurate decision making, inefficient planning, and an inability to stick to the contract. To complete the project on time, most stakeholders just reorder the equipment rather than locating it, which further increases project costs.
But the main question is, why do tools go missing?
The main reasons you cannot find your tools are:
Tools are not there and/or they have arrived in the wrong quantity: if the tools that are supposed to be shipped haven’t reached the designated location or they are shipped to another, you will have a missing tool report.
Tools have been moved: maybe the tool is still in the warehouse. But someone moved elsewhere without anyone knowing or they have placed it in the wrong location after using it, so it will classify as missing.
Theft/Misplacement: one of the most common reasons for missing tools is theft. Someone took the tool to work and didn’t return it. Or after using it, they misplaced it.
Log is not recorded correctly: if the log sheet says that someone has issued the tool while it’s actually still on the premises, it won’t be used if there is a requirement. Conversely, if someone is using the tool but the log sheet says that the tool is available, people will look for it. That will cause confusion, halt work, and waste precious time.
However, there are some tips and tricks you can implement to make sure you keep a good track of your tools and equipment.
Track All Inventory
Tracking your inventory is the best thing that you can do. A good inventory tracking system means it is accurate and up to date. You can do cycle checks instead of daily tracking to reduce the time and effort required for inventory checking.
You may also have a central database where you list everything you own. That will reduce theft, as everyone will know if something’s missing.
Inventory checks also make sure you allocate an appropriate budget for the inventory. Most of the time, businesses have much more inventory than they need.
Even if that’s not your case, when tracking your inventory, you will be on top of work requirements and order equipment correctly the next time you need it.
Categorize Tools And Equipment
Categorizing tools and equipment can help you identify where similar tools are kept and which ones can be used interchangeably. While you can categorize your inventory granularly in a program, you can place interchangeable tools in the same location for easier access.
You can divide tools into various categories, in a way that suits your business model best.
For example, you can organize tools by site and divide small and large tools. Other categories can be:
Type of tool (hand tool, power tool)
Use for that tool (indoor, outdoor)
Organize tools as you see fit, but it would be wise to include information on equipment’s status, purchase date, and warranty expiration date.
Tag Individual Items
Tagging items in your inventory will enable you to track, identify and locate each tool you have. You can tag equipment in many ways, barcodes and RFID chips being the most common.
We will explain the benefits of each option later.
Track Tool Usage
You should know which tool is being used more, how much is it being used, who is using it, and how much does it cost to ship it.
These insights will help you prioritize tools by requirement and transport price so you don’t spend an extra dime on tools than you absolutely have to.
If a tool is collecting dust in a warehouse while it’s needed somewhere—the business suffers.
Most importantly, if a tool gets stolen, you’ll have the record of who was the last person handling it, when they used it, and the last location they used the tool. This is important as over time, the cost of lost tools adds up.
Checking in and checking out tools will help make a strategy for further equipment management.
Track Repairs And Warranties
If you’re using one tool daily and another one once a month, the tool you use every day requires more maintenance, and it’s more likely to break.
Also, when you have information about the equipment usage, you can plan maintenance for idle tools or machines due for checkups. Being well organized will not affect business processes, and will keep your equipment up and running.
Monitor which tools are under the warranty as you could maintain/fix them free of cost. This will make sure you spend money and time only on those tools/equipment that really need it.
What Happens If The Tool Breaks?
Track which tools are regularly out of commission. If something breaks, try to understand the reason behind it, especially if it happens more often than it should. You can do that by collecting data and conducting trend analysis.
Answer the following questions and you’ll have a better understanding of why something breaks:
Is the equipment not being used properly (handling error)?
Are they not being used according to correct voltage specifications?
Does it require a resting period before reuse?
Not only does a broken tool costs time and money to fix it, but your workers would also be idle while it’s getting fixed if there’s no replacement available.
To save money in the long run, try to buy quality equipment from a trustworthy brand.
Determine Optimum Utilization
When categorizing tools, you can gather more data for each one. For instance, you can find out which tools employees like better and which ones are the most effective in getting the job done.
Compare that with the cost and find information on how many companies are making it. Then, try to research which brand has the most durable equipment. Do a cost analysis to figure out which tools drain you most financially, either by physical issue (breaking too early) or logistical issue (too much requirement).
With that intelligence, you’ll be able to make smarter decisions.
Equipment Usage Accountability
Making individual workers accountable for the equipment they use is a sure-fire way to reduce thefts and counting errors.
Here’s what you can do.
Use technology: use a tool management system instead of a manual record and make sure your employees know how to use it. That way they can self-check-in or check-out the required tools.
Bring your employees up to speed about the tool tracking system you chose and explain how everything functions. You can also put a tool handling and usage chart in the workplace for a better understanding.
Create a tool handling agreement to make sure your workers understand accountability associated with issuing that tool. Tell them about established laws related to the theft of tools and remind them of the consequences.
Establish rewards and fines: for an exceptional tool handling, you can also issue rewards. This will motivate people to handle the tools better. Fines can be given to those who don’t follow the rules. Workers who “lose” tools frequently can pay for the equipment out of their paycheck, if this will be your p.