Basics of a tool tracking system
Whichever sector it operates in, a business has to contend with managing tools of various kinds. Most of these tools are typically small in size and prone to getting misplaced when used by different employees across different locations.
For this reason, it is important for managers to develop a streamlined strategy to track such assets. An automated tool tracking system greatly helps in this regard. It captures operational information about your tools in real-time.
This way you can keep tabs on your tools, whichever job site they are on. You can also analyze past utilization trends and get the optimum possible performance from your tools. Without a dedicated tool tracking system in place, you may lose track of your tools and their usage.
This not only hurts your financials but also taints the credibility of your business operations in the long run. With tools continuously being out of sight, it only delays your daily workflows, creates employee frustration and adds up to unnecessary procurement costs.
Here’s a list of challenges companies have to struggle with if they have substandard tool tracking practices in place:
- Inventory theft and misplacement
- Lack of visibility into daily operations
- Lost employee hours on locating equipment
- Absence of reliable asset records
- Ineffective warehousing
To sidestep the issues mentioned above, it is crucial to implement a reliable tool tracking solution before your business falls off into obscurity. However, before opting for software, you must consider a few aspects when it comes to tool tracking.
You can pick from three types of tool tracking mechanisms depending on the nature of the tools you work with.
Industries which run multiple projects on remote sites generally have to work with mobile tools and equipment. An example of this is the construction sector. Companies dispatch equipment like jackhammers, forklifts, and various masonry and tile cutting tools to different sites.
Tracking mobile tools as these requires a ubiquitous system that can pinpoint assets wherever they are. An ideal mechanism in this situation is a GPS tracking system that can be used on the mobile devices of your employees.
GPS tracking system is the most accurate of all systems as it identifies the exact coordinates of your tools via globally widespread satellites. To install a GPS system, you must first know how it works. It has trackers powered by internal batteries.
GPS devices can be externally anchored to assets. They do not necessarily require hard wiring. However, GPS trackers may sometimes not respond due to unfavorable transportation conditions.
Although it is more precise, GPS tracking is a lot more expensive than other tracking alternatives discussed below.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tracking system makes use of electromagnetic fields to trace tools. RFID tags store asset data in electronic form and emit it to the readers as radio waves.
RFID tags have a greater discovery range than barcode labels. An asset does not necessarily have to be in direct contact with an RFID reader to be discoverable. However, the RFID tracking system has a downside to it too.
It is not suitable for use in environments with heavy electromagnetic fields as they may disrupt the radio signals. RFID tags are generally more advanced than barcodes. They can be used to check-in or checkout items in bulk quantity.
Barcode labeling is the most widely used tool tracking mechanism. They offer a diverse range of benefits. Barcode labels are easy to design, print and scan. They are also the most affordable option available in the market.
In comparison to manual data entry, barcode scanning eliminates the possibility of human error for check-in and checkout. Barcode labeling proves extremely helpful in tracking the location, usage, and levels of your tool inventory.
Features of tool tracking software
Picking a type of tool tracking system does not mean you’re out of the woods just yet. Your next step should be to develop a sound tool management policy. In this pursuit, it helps to understand the features of most automated tool tracking software solutions in the market.
Most tool tracking software solutions come saddled with the following features to help improve the performance and productivity of your tools.
1. Life cycle management
Tool tracking software tracks the usage and working condition of your tools right from the time they are procured to when they are retired. It lets you keep tabs on purchase orders, vendors, depreciation expenses and maintenance histories.
By calculating the lifetime upkeep costs of your tools, you can make informed decisions on whether to invest in them or not. You can also determine a time for asset retirement so you do not have to grapple with frequent breakdowns and unnecessary repair costs.
2. Check-ins and checkouts
Asset tags on tools can be scanned and the relevant tools can be checked out against their users to maintain user accountability of tools. Real-time data about tool ownership improves the transparency of your business operations.
It also pulls down chances of theft and tool misplacement. Every time a tool is checked out, a user trail is created. Admin or supervisors can trace this trail of users to identify which employee is using a certain tool at a certain time for what purpose.
To ensure all your projects finish in time and your business events happen without a hitch, you need a seamless tool reservation process. With hundreds of tools being deployed at various job sites, conflicted bookings of the same tool can meddle with your operations.
You can avoid this by using tool tracking software. It comes with an easy-to-scan dashboard calendar. This calendar shows the availability status of each of the tools during a specified time period.
This way you can reserve tools that have not been reserved for other projects happening at the same time. In case the item you want is already reserved for another event, you can go ahead and sub-rent it from one of your partner vendors for the time being.
You can also see when the reserved tool is due for return, so you do not end up sub-renting for more than the requisite period. This way you can bridge short periods of increased demand for the same kind of tools.
Tool tracking solution comes equipped with a maintenance module. It keeps an account of repair histories of all your tools and automatically schedules them for service when their performance drops.
The system alerts users when tools are sent in for maintenance so they can plan their activities accordingly. Tool tracking system aids with preventive maintenance of your assets. It drastically reduces equipment breakdown instances and keeps your daily operations running.
Most tools a company has to work with have consumable components. Running out of these components at a job site is the last thing you want. These inconveniences, although minor in appearance, can pile up and decelerate your projects more than you can expect.
You can prevent unexpected shortfalls by automating procurement of your tools. You can specify inventory stock thresholds by using a tool tracking system.
Whenever the stock level of your consumables touches this threshold, the system sends automated purchase orders to your vendors. This feature replenishes your stock before you fall into any inventory gaps.
It also keeps you from overstocking, thereby eliminating any wasteful resources that take up your money and space.
Why does your business need a tool tracking system?
We have discussed the features of a tool tracking system so far, but why bother investing in it at all?
A robust tool tracking system helps you reap the following benefits apart from efficient management of your tools.
1. It helps you stay compliant
The cloud database of a tool tracking system houses all the information regarding your tools. It shields sensitive asset data from unauthorized users and misappropriation using passwords.
The ubiquitous, round-the-clock access to this cloud facilitates audit processes whenever regulatory authorities demand of them. Increased asset and user visibility also ensure that your business is compliant to federal regulations.
2. It is easy to scale up
Scalability of a software system is a major concern these days. With the ever-increasing customer base, most businesses are continuously expanding to cater to the demands of the market.
Most growing companies are often held back by legacy tool tracking systems that need significant infrastructural changes to scale up. Advanced tool tracking software offers both storage and infrastructural flexibility.
This way you can house more data and modify the features of the tool tracking system to your needs as your business grows.
3. It enables organized warehousing
A tool tracking system saves you from flustered employees and cluttered warehouses big time! It smartly sifts and sorts your tools by their users. You can group each of your tools by department usage and clock in their assigned bin location in the system.
Let’s say, the system may depict that tools for use by the security department are stored in shelf ‘X’ of warehouse ‘Y’. This means your staff does not have to scurry around looking for the stuff they need.
They can just see where a certain piece of equipment is and get it when the need arises. To add to your convenience, tools that are frequently used together can be stored as bundles and checked out at the same time.
Tool tracking system: The sharpest tool in your shed
Getting a reliable tool tracking system is the first of many steps when it comes to adopting asset management best practices. It enables you to closely monitor the utilization trends of your tools.
This reveals which tools perform the highest and should be invested more in. You can even group tools by departments and analyze departmental contribution towards your business.
This way, you can choose to eliminate equipment and departments that do not bring enough results are only gathering dust lying around. A tool tracking system helps you spend your money smarter. It is, therefore, the sharpest tool in your shed.
EZOfficeInventory is the leading tool tracking software. With it, you can easily locate, calibrate, and monitor tools and equipment across job sites, tool rooms and teams. We offer a free 15-day trial – no credit card required!