Making a smart purchase of tool tracking software

Like most new business owners, a commercial plumbing contractor started small. Early on, with just a handful of employees working on only a project or two at a time, he found it fairly simple to keep track of tools (and other small equipment). But as the business grew, this task became more complicated.

In fact, the contractor realized that ensuring that the right tools, in good condition, were available was a mission-critical task. He was losing money to the largely preventable costs of replacing lost or stolen tools and repairing poorly maintained ones.

The contractor knew there was tool tracking software on the market. But he didn’t want to waste money. So he sought help from his financial advisor to sort out what would be the most useful and cost-effective choice.

Scan and track           

The advisor explained that the simplest systems operate something like a library. The construction company attaches unique barcode or radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to each tool, as well as to bins or shelves to store and organize the assets. A scanner is then tethered to a computer running the software, which is used to recognize each tool as it’s checked in or out by employees.

Newer systems, however, include mobile scanning capability using a smartphone or tablet. They can also associate each employee and every job with a barcode. Thus, the software tracks specifically who’s using an asset and where it should be. Many contractors find that this function by itself significantly reduces incidents of missing or stolen tools.

Refine maintenance procedures

Today’s more elaborate systems, the advisor continued, offer many other capabilities as well. For example, the advisor knew that the plumber used a variety of tools and small equipment that require periodic maintenance or calibration. Better software can track these intervals in conjunction with usage and alert him when an asset is due for maintenance.

Another option offered by some systems is the ability to monitor inventories of consumable items, send an alert when supplies run low and even reorder items automatically. The plumber thought this feature could be helpful in maintaining his stock of standard parts and fittings.

Shop carefully

Following their discussion, the advisor helped the contractor set a budget and narrow his search to a few vendors offering the functions he needed. From there, they negotiated free trials, helpful training and support terms with a couple of providers. Finally, the plumber made his purchase and, ever since, his tools have been doing more to earn him money than lose it.