Content provided by the accounting firm of Dorfmann-Robbie specializing in construction accounting.
technology helps tighten up small-tool management
pay close attention to the whereabouts and maintenance
of large equipment while often overlooking small tools, such
as power drills and reciprocating saws. This may prove an expensive
oversight, as the costs of losing these items can quickly add
up. And the more tools a company has, the more threatening the
might try to alleviate or preclude replacement expenses by buying
cheap tools. This approach,
however, can slow productivity when these cut-rate products fail
or work poorly. What you really need to do is quite simple — keep
better track of your small tools.
Go high-tech Fortunately, technology
can greatly help you get a better handle on this matter. For
example, electronic bar-code systems easily and efficiently label,
coordinate, track and catalog tools in real time. These systems
usually involve three components:
1. Bar codes. Each tool gets
its own bar code displayed on polyurethane labels designed to
hold up under repeated on-the-job wear and tear.
scanners. Your project or equipment managers use portable units
to scan the bar codes when assigning tools and accepting returns.
3. Tracking software. An application tracks items
via a database that you can also use for browsing, billing and
In addition, the program records repair histories and maintenance
of bar-code technology varies, but the investment is well worth
it. In fact, most systems from companies such as
Symbol Technologies, EDP System Services and Waterwheel Software
pay for themselves in three to six months. Almost immediately
after you implement one, you’ll likely dramatically reduce theft,
loss and misuse.
Improve management efficiency
also improves management efficiency. How? You can let managers
know that, if the system doesn’t show tools as coming back from
job sites at completion, you’ll charge the project for them.
Thus, managers will more closely monitor and protect these items
to avoid going overbudget.
Bar-code technology may also reduce
your legal liability. Federal regulations often require workers
to don safety gear such as goggles, hard hats and respirators.
And these systems enable you to show that you issued employees
the proper equipment, which could in turn limit your accident
Get ready for the next generation
It is — and the next generation is already on the way. Technology
companies are currently refining radio-frequency identification
systems, which place tiny chips in tools that transmit data to
a handheld receiver. The chips will likely replace bar codes,
though their expense will probably keep them out of the mainstream
for a while. Solutions like this will further streamline small-tool
management, minimizing costs and maximizing returns all the more.