Tracking your Equipment: What are the Basic steps?
It’s pretty alarming that construction companies continue to rely on cumbersome log sheets and spreadsheets to manage and track equipment. I mean, come on; it’s 2019. There’s software out there for almost every business need. But then it starts to make sense when you realize how slow the industry has been at adopting digital tools to handle day-to-day business processes. The construction industry has actually declined in productivity over the past half-century, relative to other major industries. The question is why?
Now, there are many contributing factors, but on the operations side of the business, one of the most important aspects is how well companies manage their tools and equipment. That’s why we’re going over a few considerations that will help you track construction equipment more productively and cost-effectively.
Change Your Mindset
The common perception that manual inventory tracking methods are a safe bet is hurting businesses. Sure, they’re affordable and have been around since the Reagan (US President) administration, but they have also proven to be a financial and operational liability for equipment management.
When looking into the best ways to track construction equipment, remember that you get what you pay for. Most of the time, taking upfront savings and limiting financial risk is a sound business strategy. But in this case, being overly cheap and short-sighted will hurt the business in the long run.
So, for tool inventory and equipment tracking specifically, don’t cling to safety (spreadsheets) and don’t be afraid to invest in a long-term, new-age system. A little forward-thinking in adopting digital tool tracking solutions will result in higher returns on investment.
Embrace Digitalization and Technology
It’s no secret that adopting digital systems in construction creates cost savings. The World Economic Forum stated that digitalization could cut operational costs up by 17% and capital costs by up to 21% for construction companies. That’s potentially thousands of dollars in savings for your business!
Part of those savings stems from the elimination of inefficiencies, such as data entry and task redundancy. In construction, the way to do that is by upgrading to a complete tool inventory management system. Here’s a typical example of where manual tracking methods fall short productivity-wise.
Construction Company XYZ owns hundreds of equipment ranging from cement mixers to power tools. These assets move simultaneously and sporadically, from the main warehouse to over 200 employees at over 100 job sites a year. Company XYZ tries to track who has the what equipment, what job site it’s on, and when it was moved—all with Excel.
Without a software solution, it’s up to managers and workers to periodically fill it out, line by line and column by column, after a hard day’s or week’s work. Initially, by jotting down the transactions or activities on a notepad or print out, and then eventually entering it in a spreadsheet.
Now, consider the volume of tool inventory being moved, and how often items change hands within the company. Then think about how much time will be spent handwriting and typing in order to accomplish these tracking goals. It seems exhausting, not to mention risky with how many potential human errors that could occur. Especially when you consider the alternative methods available.
Utilize Mobile Tool Management
Pretty much every employee has a smartphone or tablet, so why not use it for work? Whether your company has a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy in place or not, mobile apps are especially useful in the construction job environment. Everyday tasks such as checking out equipment, searching for tools available in inventory, reordering supplies and cataloging equipment condition can all be done in the one app. You can even buy rugged, enterprise-grade iPhone cases to scan barcodes twice as fast as using the phone’s built-in camera. If improving productivity is your goal, you should be considering construction equipment tracking mobile apps.
Evaluate Construction Equipment Tracking Solutions
In response to the complex demands of managing construction assets in real-time, companies should look to adopt complete equipment tracking systems. These usually include a combination of durable barcode labels, rugged barcode scanner hardware, a mobile app, as well as customizable features.
Many system offerings include a locally-installed solution and a cloud-based counterpart, which makes a big difference depending on busy and savvy your company IT people are. The good news is that both systems are equally capable of helping your business track construction tools and equipment. Hopefully, in time, the adoption of tech solutions will get the construction industry out of its slump.