Tool Tracking and Management
In this guide we'll look at the reasons to implement a tool tracking solution, some important requirements of such a system, and some of the capabilities beyond tracking that should be considered. But first, take a moment to see if this resonates:
“Our system was basically a fancy Excel. We realized that not only were we not conquering our revenue, we didn’t know where our assets were. We didn't know how many tools we had or where any of them were. It was tool in, tool out and we had a very loose billing structure. We didn’t even know how many assets we actually had as a company.” - David Meacham, Jenco
Too often lapses in productivity come out of faulty or out of date systems. Within the construction industry a modern, fully equipped tool tracking and management solution does so much more than just keep track of inventory. The more obvious advantages of tool tracking include reducing lost or stolen tools and equipment, along with reducing the productivity and money wasting delays that come out of workers not having the equipment they need when they need it. But beyond this there are so many benefits including, enhanced analytic insights to inform strategic decision making, identifying productivity bottlenecks, automating away time consuming inventory tasks, better aligning the interests of field and warehouse teams, and many more. The advantages are abundant, and if the solution is fully featured it will be able to improve just about every part of the construction operations process. For construction companies that have to deal with a lot of moving parts within complex projects you often find that they will rise or fall according to the quality of their internal systems. Any modern construction company that is not taking full advantage of a modern tool tracking and management system is without a doubt leaving thousands of dollars worth of value on the table in lost tools, wasted labor costs, and unoptimized operations that are difficult to manage without a modern solution.
Important Requirements for Tool Tracking and Management
Flexible and Adaptable Use Across Departments
- Adapted to the needs of your industry – Obviously within the umbrella term of “construction” are a variety of different industries and specialties that require different types of work. A solution that specializes in electrical contracting may not necessarily helps contractors working in the oil & gas industry. Making sure the tool tracking and management solution that you pick is aligned with your specific needs will be essential to getting the highest ROI possible. Most companies will have resources and people available to help walk you through the use cases for their product. They are often a good resource for determining what would be a good fit for your company.
- Easy to use for field, warehouse, and back-office personnel- An effective piece of technology will improve efficiency and productivity. For some pieces of technology, the confusion that they cause can often be viewed as too much of a hassle for workers to bother with. As a result, the full potential of technology is almost guaranteed to be wasted. Construction job sites are often loud and chaotic environments so a solution that is not easy to use will end up causing as many problems as it solves. A simple, straightforward solution, with continued support from the company that provides the solution is an essential part of ensuring that your team will adopt new technologies and utilize them to their full potential.
- Educational & Support Resources - As previously mentioned, a tool tracking and management solution could be one of the best pieces of technology in the world. But if the people using don’t understand how to fully utilize it then it doesn’t mean anything for your bottom line. A company that provides a robust educational and training program to help users integrate and fully utilize their solution is often a good indication of a company that will continue to deliver on their initial promises even after the purchase has been made. Beyond education there are also issues that will arise that can require immediate attention from a support team. The ability to educate your team members and get them immediate product support in the case of an unexpected failure are both essential elements of successfully implementing a new solution as well as weathering any challenges that present themselves in that process.
- Enterprise-Wide Integration – Internal organization wide support from all layers of the company from the field, warehouse, and back-office teams are essential for a fast and efficient implementation of a tool tracking and management solution. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to be a cheerleader for the tech, but making sure that everyone is on the same page and is willing to pitch in to make the changes necessary to get the new system up and running is an important step in this process.
Scanning Technology Plays Key Role in Tool Tracking
Additionally, it is important that the tool tracking and management system flexibly support multiple scanning technologies such as barcode scanning, RFID scanning, and BLE scanning. Scanners help with tool management and make sure pieces don't get lost or broken and time consuming elements of regular inventory tracking can be automated ensuring less human error, more efficient processes, and accurate timely data. A modern tool tracking and management system should be able to integrate with multiple scanning technologies. Different areas of a worksite or warehouse often are ideally suited to a specific type of scanning technology that can make things more efficient. For example, when transferring items one at a time in a warehouse, simple barcode scanning will do the trick. But when transferring items in bulk on or across job sites something like automated BLE (bluetooth low energy) technology is great because it automatically scans, transfers, and keeps track of the location of the tools that you are moving.
Beyond Tool Tracking: Tool Management
Inventory Management and Monitoring Tool Lifecycles
The use of tool tracking in warehouses and in the field helps to ensure that all tools are accounted for. Tool tracking in warehouses helps to keep track of tool movement (tool transfers) and tool inventory. It also helps to identify when tools are missing or need to be replaced. In the field, tool tracking can help managers quickly locate tools and verify tool conditions prior to issuing them for use.
Digital Data Integrations and Streamlined Processes
The digitization of many internal processes allows for a multitude of benefits. The first being, it makes repeatable processes like forms and paperwork much easier to complete and keep track of. They are made easily available to all workers through mobile applications that also help to streamline the submission process and ensure accurate data that is easily accessible for everyone in the organization. No longer will workers have to keep track of physical copies of the multiple forms and checklists that need to be used.
Data-Driven Insights and Planning: Enterprise-Wide Integration
Better data management and tracking also supports a stream of added benefits: namely, better job cost and billing projections: when you're measuring and monitoring everything, you have greater specificity and insight at your fingertips. This also ties into ERP and accounting efficiencies as well simply by integrating data across previously disconnected systems. Allowing for better organization wide communications and more insightful data analysis efforts.
Tool Tracking and Management Analytics
The natural evolution of these integrations? Analytics that supports business operations. When we can track multiple assets in real-time, this opens the door to a lot of meaningful insights that were previously inaccessible because of the existing system constraints. The data seamlessly delivered by this system is priceless for informing strategic decision making and identifying productivity bottlenecks. Thanks to the forward momentum of AI and machine learning, these capabilities will only become increasingly more automated and insightful going forward.
Before & After Implementation: Tool Tracking and Management
Picture this: thanks to the right tool tracking and management solution, your business could easily go from:
- Uncontrolled overhead from lost, stolen, or misplaced tools and assets
- Communication breakdowns across teams, killing productivity and causing delays
- Internal conflicts between field and warehouse teams causing tool hoarding, internal conflict, needless delays, and mismanaged inventory.
- Enduring unknown levels of tool theft and mismanagement that could be costing you thousands of dollars in lost inventory costs and lost productivity
Integrated Tool Tracking Drives Results
- Overhead kept to a minimum thanks to assets being tracked and monitored across multiple data points: shelf life, current condition and location to name a few
- Departments integrating more seamlessly thanks to streamlined processes and transparent integrations that centralize communication and data
- More accurate job cost and billing projections due to accurate automated tool tracking that reduces errors and time consuming processes. Less time is spent looking for, transferring, and billing expensive equipment. And no delays for getting your people the tools they need when they need them producing a more productive workforce to help you and your clients bottom line.
Conclusion: Tool Tracking and Management Aggregate Benefits
Taken separately, each of these benefits contributes to overall improved efficiency and lower overhead. Taken together, implementing a robust tool tracking and management solution has the potential to generate massive improvements. If this seems like a stretch, think back to David from Jenco. Here's how it worked out for him: After using the system for five years, Jenco recovered around $250,000 in lost or stolen property that had not been reported correctly. Numbers like these are proof that improving tool tracking and management does indeed pay off, sometimes handsomely.
If you're currently vetting tool management options, ToolWatch may be able to help. We'd love to tell you more about how the system can help you manage your assets more efficiently and more profitably.