5 signs you have a tool inventory problem
On a daily basis, tools are regularly passed between workers, vehicles and even different sites. While this is the reality of working in the construction industry, such activity can create a number of challenges in terms of tool inventory.
If you’re unsure where your tools are, or your systems aren’t able to keep track of this constant movement, it can be difficult to ensure workers have the tools they need for the job.
Another issue is keeping your inventory serviced and safe, which can have major implications in terms of compliance, worker safety and efficiency. These challenges can all impact your productivity, and more significantly, your company’s bottom line.
Here are 5 signs that you have a tool inventory problem:
1. You’ve got many back-up tools
If your tool park is full of equipment that's not being used, this may indicate a larger issue with your tool inventory. While it’s essential to have enough tools to complete the specific task, having too much equipment can be a bad investment.
Having considerable capital tied up in excess equipment can be damaging to your business’ profitability. This is because it pulls valuable resources away from other areas of the company where the capital could be invested more effectively. If you do have a large number of back-up tools, it’s important to ask whether this capital is invested well.
With an oversized tool park, money isn't just tied up in the equipment itself, but is also spent on maintenance. According to the PAT testing guidelines, all tools - even those not in regular use - must be kept regularly serviced and tested to ensure they are in safe working condition. This means tools will need to undertake PAT testing every 3-6 months on average, which needs to be regularly scheduled and tracked. Such consistent maintenance on unused equipment costs both time and money, as tools cannot be used on-site without testing.
2. You can’t find specific tools when workers ask for them
While this issue may appear to be the opposite of the one above, these two problems can often occur side-by-side. Even if you have enough equipment in circulation, it can still be difficult to find certain items when workers request them.
This can happen for a number of reasons. Often, workers will struggle to find tools because people don't record when they take them from stock - or when they pass them around between different workers and sites throughout the day. Equipment subsequently ends up being stored in vans for long periods of time, which is extremely difficult to keep track of. Although you may have plenty of equipment in your tool park, specific items may be invisible on the system because they weren't registered properly.
This can cause increased stress for both workers and support staff, and lead to delays as employees try to locate tools manually over the phone.
3. Workers aren't happy with the tools you give them
Having the wrong tools for the job can be extremely frustrating, leading to low morale amongst your workforce. It can also prolong the length of time it takes to complete a task, especially if equipment breaks down often.
If this is a regular occurence, it might indicate an issue with your tool inventory. If you consistently supply incorrect tools, some workers may even start to hoard the tools they like - which will cause yet more equipment shortages and potential conflicts between employees.
4. You have to choose between repairing or replacing tools
If you have an ageing tool park, you may often wonder ‘should I repair this tool again, or would it be better to replace it?’. This decision is never an easy one - certain tools may be under warranty when others are not, while the cost of repairs can vary considerably across different types of equipment.
The issue is not necessarily in the decision itself, but rather the frequency of this dilemma. If you’re having to make this decision on a regular basis, then this indicates a larger problem within your tool inventory.
Tools are also out of action whilst you're making this decision, which may mean replacement tools are required for ongoing jobs. This can cost considerable time and money - particularly if you’re having to rent tools regularly - and only serves to prolong the issue instead of addressing it.
5. You don't know when your tools were serviced
As mentioned above, it’s essential that your tools are serviced regularly. Not only does this reduce downtime and improve productivity on-site, but it ensures your equipment is fully compliant with the appropriate regulations, such as the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER). It’s also important to maintain proof that tools are safe to use through service records. If you don’t have this information, there may be potential issues should an inspection or any accidents occur.
If you're unsure of when each tool was serviced, this indicates a problem within your inventory systems that needs to be addressed.
These issues are broader symptoms of an overall tool inventory problem, and understanding the root cause can help alleviate these symptoms. Our free guide on how to increase productivity can help you optimise your tool park through efficient inventory management, or check out our digital asset management system - Hilti ON!Track.