For most construction professionals, keeping track of construction tools and equipment isn’t just a challenge—it’s overwhelmingly stressful. Every business across all industry owns tool and equipment that helps them provide the services and goods they offer to their clients. And whether that is tiny (such as computer hard drives) or massive (such as a construction backhoe), tracking it could not be more essential.
Fortunately, tracking your tools and equipment can be simple.
This article will dive into how to monitor tools and equipment inventory, arming you with a detailed guideline you’ll need to streamline your inventory management strategy, as well as underscore the importance of construction inventory control.
I. Construction Tools
The Four-Step System in Tracking Construction Tools
Your construction team needs a fully-stocked array of tools to complete construction works effectively. Furthermore, your team requires a well-organized tool system if they want to prevent wasting time searching their toolbox, crib, kit, or vehicle for the right tool for a specific job.
By tracking your tools in real-time, you and your construction team will always know where to find that pavement roller or electric sander. Additionally, it’ll be easier to keep track of critical maintenance dates, warranty-end dates, high-value items, and tools that change hands most of the time.
To start tracking your construction tools, here’s a four-step system you can implement:
1. Make a complete tools list using an inventory management system
Your company might consider getting an inventory management system to organize your construction tools indeed. There are three main methods to keep track of inventory: manual counting, using an inventory spreadsheet, or with the assistance of inventory management software.
For most companies, inventory software like Pro Crew Schedule is the most effective solution. This is because inventory software offers a platform of powerful automation features that make inventory management for construction professionals much easier. These features—including automated inventory tracking, detailed inventory information, and centralized inventory control—will enable you to complete the following four steps without friction.
Whichever method of managing inventory you choose, you will need a detail-rich construction inventory list to keep on top of all your construction company’s tools.
2. Implement categorizing, kitting, or bundling tools
Chances are, many of your construction tools fall under specific categories that could make tracking and organize even more convenient for your team. For instance, there are common tools every employee needs for every job. Similarly, some tools are only required for painting, tools only needed for installing windows and doors, and tools only required for masonry works.
Take some time to choose the best way to categorize the tools your company keeps in stock. You may also think that categorizing tools isn’t enough, and you’d need to keep them together as well physically. In that case, you might also implement kitting your inventory. Through bundling inventory, you can mix a set of commonly used tools into one “kit.” This can also be beneficial as toolboxes that employees grab before heading out on-site to do specialized work.
3. Monitor construction tools as they move to different sites
Regardless of whether you bundle tools or not, it’s vital to set up a guideline for tracking construction tools as they change hands and get transferred from storage to the job site. That way, you will know what tools you have, their condition, and where they are located.
Pro Crew Schedule makes this easy by allowing you to tag tools on where they are located. That means you can filter for each job site, vehicle, warehouse, and more. All your team needs to do is edit the item’s location based on where the tool is.
Encouraging your team to practice inventory monitoring and properly update inventory management software every time an item is used, moved, or restocked will help your company remain stocked and efficient.
4. Set up a system for reordering
Keeping your tool inventory updated is an endless process; a considerable part of that process is reordering low inventory as needed. To help you achieve good inventory numbers confidently, you’ll need to set up a seamless reordering system for your construction tools.
For items, you do not have order minimums for, we suggest working with your suppliers to establish minimum order quantities and expected lead times. You can review and evaluate your current inventory reports to help forecast demanding items and set inventory minimums accordingly.
Furthermore, determine what day of the week or month you will need to place orders for different suppliers, and then use your complete inventory list to identify exactly what you’ll need to buy. Inventory software can help notify you when and how many to reorder, but you’ll still have to place those orders consistently to avoid low inventory. The more detailed and automated your process is, the better.
II. Construction Inventory
There are many reasons why tracking construction equipment is so crucial, from keeping your business’s bottom line to ensuring your company’s financial team has the right information they need to manage your company’s money. Here are a few guidelines on how you can implement effective equipment tracking for your construction business:
1. Create a list of all your construction equipment
Similar to construction tools, you will need a holistic view of all equipment you have in each site location. Begin by examining your physical inventory’s organization, labeling equipment, and making a comprehensive inventory list.
While on it, you should carefully include every detail about your equipment in your comprehensive list, including:
- Item name
- Serial number
- Purchase date
- Key maintenance dates
- Warranty information
- Expected end of useful life
2. Develop a standard operating procedure
To properly keep track of equipment, you must implement an achievable and consistent inventory strategy. Once you have established a plan, train all your team members on the new process and disseminate a written document that explains the plan clearly. Ensure that each employee has the right tools and assistance they might need to track inventory properly.
Many companies ask supervisors to check their employees’ work daily to ensure that policies are followed, especially in inventory control. It might not be essential to do this forever, but it’s certainly a good idea to start. A quick audit of inventory designations from time to time can also offer your supervisors an opportunity to double-check if your current inventory system is still thriving.
Again, you can consistently streamline the most time-consuming and daunting parts of inventory management with web-based inventory software that caters to features that speed up or automate standard operating procedures.
3. Always monitor the usage, problems, damage, and loss of your inventory
A good strategy in inventory management is the feature to define exactly what a worker should do if they notice an item is damaged, lost, or broken. After all, your entire team needs to know how the condition of each item affects your maintenance schedule, work schedule, and bottom line.
4. Schedule regular maintenance
Regular equipment maintenance is critical to protecting the value of your long-term construction assets. Knowing this, you’ll need to find a way to keep track of the maintenance dates, especially if you own lots of equipment.
For instance, you can track these dates by hand using a traditional calendar or a digital excel spreadsheet or choose to upgrade to a shared online calendar on construction scheduling software.
5. Perform annual audits to confirm inventory records
Last but not least, your construction business will want to perform large-scale audits—or frequent inventory cycle counts—to confirm current inventory records, especially during the end of the year. This activity can help your team determine whether your recorded inventory matches your book inventory, choose sites where inventory procedures are not followed, and ensure that all assets are in good working condition.
This is also a perfect opportunity to reconcile your inventory list with your books, which is what your accounting team will require from the construction team come tax season.
Construction tools and equipment are a long-term, fixed asset—an investment a business expects to hold onto for a calendar year (but likely longer for equipment). To protect your hard-earned investment, your business will need to track where it is when it needs to be checked for maintenance, who has used it, and what condition it’s in.
The right inventory management system will make it smooth for your employees to check all your assets’ where, when, who, and what before they perform a designated task. After all, the ultimate goal for your construction team is to work efficiently and productively—and not spend too much time looking for its whereabouts!
With Pro Crew Schedule, your team can save time and energy in conducting repetitive and time-consuming inventory management tasks and focus their attention on more important activities on-site. Partnered with a construction crew management feature, scheduling the usage of your tools and equipment has never been easier.