Controlling Costs Through Tool Tracking
You’re running 24/7. You can’t afford to be down even an hour. The health of your tools – everything from screwdrivers and wrenches to hydraulics – can mean the difference between keeping the power on or having the lights out while you wait for a new tool to arrive or an older one to be repaired.
MRO materials often include hundreds of stocking units (SKU), some in very small quantities. It can be difficult to know where each item is and to track demand without having a system in place to track the tools held in inventory.
While tools may seem a small part of your overall MRO cost, tracking tools can be time consuming. Implementing a robust tool tracking system can save time, money and manpower.
Tagging with either bar codes or RFID tags is a great way to keep track of tools, how they are used and how many hours each tool has been actively in service. Item numbers and descriptions are tracked immediately upon initial scan as the tool comes into the warehouse and then tracked throughout the tool’s life. Each time it undergoes maintenance, the tool is checked for wear and parts can be replaced. Once a tool is tagged, it becomes easy to plan when that tool will need to be replaced, if used normally.
Tracking tools and other MRO items also allows you to see which items are being used most and which are not being used as frequently. Investigating why certain inventory items are not being used can lower costs, if there is no need to stock that item, and it opens the way for more cost-effective alternatives that would be used more.
What else needs to be considered when tracking tools?
Here’s our checklist:
- DEFINE “FREQUENT FLYERS” AND OBSOLESCENCE. Start by tagging and tracking those items used most, especially if you’re seeing the numbers needed increase. Tracking will allow you to find out why those numbers are climbing and put new strategies in place to hold down costs. It will also help you identify those items approaching obsolescence or those whose technology is older than currently available on the market.
- THINK ABOUT VENDING SOLUTIONS. Tool vending solutions, where employees swipe their badges in order to check tools out and check them back, make it easier to stay on top of the items you have. The system monitors inventory levels and can help with inventory forecasting.
- INVOLVE SUPERVISORS. Supervisors can be alerted when a member of their team checks out a tool, consumables or other MRO. The supervisor can then track the amount of items an employee is using, to make sure everything is being used responsibly.
- KEEP AN EYE ON SAFETY. Tracking systems allow the tools to be inspected upon check in. Any parts showing fraying, dings, cuts, or dents can be replaced or the entire tool can be taken out of rotation. A complete list of inspections and repairs can be kept with the tool, should a question of safety arise.
Having a comprehensive tool tracking system can mean the difference between keeping your facility online and having to shut down when unscheduled repairs or replacements are needed – saving you time and money.