For many construction professionals, keeping track of tools isn’t just a challenge—it’s downright stressful. Fortunately, learning how to track your tools doesn’t have to be complicated. This article will reveal how to inventory your tools and underscore the importance of tool control.
How to track your tools
Your team of construction professionals needs a fully-stocked suite of tools to effectively complete construction jobs. Furthermore, your team needs a well-organized tool system if they want to avoid wasting time searching their toolbox, kit, crib, or vehicle for the right tool.
By tracking your tools in real-time, you and your team will always know where to find that spray gun or electric sander. Plus, it’ll be easier to keep track of important maintenance dates, high-value items, warranty-end dates, and tools that change hands frequently.
To start tracking your tools, try implementing this five-step system:
1. Make a list using an inventory management system
Your company will want to decide on an inventory management system to truly organize your tools. There are three main ways to keep track of inventory: by hand, using an inventory spreadsheet, or with the help of inventory management software.
For most businesses, using an inventory app like Sortly is the most effective solution. That’s because inventory software offers a host of powerful automation features that make construction inventory management that much easier. These features—including barcode and QR code syncing and scanning, low stock alerts, and customizable reports—will enable you to complete the following four steps without friction.
No matter what method of managing inventory you choose, you’ll need a detail-rich inventory list to keep track of your construction company’s tools. Remember, your inventory list should include all the information you need about the tools you keep on hand, from location to value to SKU. Using an inventory app like Sortly, you can also add high-resolution item images to the database. This can help you specify which item you are referring to and can even document item condition.
Related: What’s an inventory list?
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2. Add barcodes and QR codes to tools
Now that you’ve compiled an inventory list, you’ll want to sync or generate barcodes and QR codes for all the items on your list. This step is only possible if you’ve adopted an inventory management system that allows barcode and QR code scanning.
What makes barcode and QR codes helpful for tracking tools? When using inventory software, employees can simply scan the tool’s barcode with their smartphone to update quantities, edit item details, or change the item’s location instantly. Employees can check tools and equipment in and out, keeping a transparent record of who had what, and when. Creating and printing barcode labels is easy to do from the app, as is syncing information from an existing barcode.
Once you’ve implemented a QR code or barcode inventory system, your team will be able to effortlessly track inventory as items are consumed, sold, or moved from one location to the next. This will help you practice better inventory control, especially on frequently used items, inventory that moves around a lot, or high-value stock.
Without barcode and QR code scanning, construction employees will have to physically account for tools at times like the end of the day, workweek, or even month or quarter. This delayed strategy can lead to confusion about where tools are and can also inadvertently lead to inventory shrinkage.
Related: How to generate a barcode or QR code using Sortly
3. Consider categorizing, bundling, or “kitting” tools
Chances are, many of your tools fall under certain categories that could make organizing and tracking them even easier. For example, there are likely tools every employee needs for every job. And then, there are tools required only for drywalling, tools only needed for refinishing hardwood floors, and tools only required for demolition.
Take some time to determine how to best categorize the tools your company keeps in stock. For example, you can categorize them using “categories” or “tags” in Sortly or even drag them into aptly-named folders.
You may also decide that categorizing tools isn’t enough, and you’d like to physically keep them together, too. If that’s the case, you might consider kitting your inventory. By bundling inventory, you can combine a set of frequently used tools into one “kit.” You can even create a barcode or QR code for the kit. This can be helpful for toolboxes or sets that employees grab before heading out to a job site.
4. Track items as they move to different locations
Whether or not you bundle tools, it’s essential to set up a protocol for tracking all tools as they change hands and move from storage to truck to job site. That way, you’ll always know what tools you have, where they are, and what condition they’re in.
Sortly makes this easy by allowing you to set up folders by location. That means you can have a dedicated folder for each job site, warehouse, vehicle, and more. All your employees need to do is move the item in Sortly based on where the tool physically is. You could also track this manually in different tabs on a spreadsheet.
Tracking inventory by location is important for all businesses, but it’s especially crucial for construction companies—especially large ones. For example, suppose you run a construction company that offers services all over the state of Florida. In that case, you’ll want to keep tabs on inventory at every location, job site, and company truck—even if your inventory manager never actually visualizes this inventory.
Encouraging your employees to practice perpetual inventory and correctly update inventory software every time an item is moved, used, or restocked will help your construction company remain properly stocked and efficient.
5. Set up a system for reordering
Managing your tool inventory is an ongoing process, and a key part of that process is reordering inventory as needed. To help you place complete orders confidently, you’ll want to set up an effective reordering system for your tools.
With Sortly, you can set customized low stock alerts, which means you’ll be notified every time an item falls below a determined threshold. This will serve as your trigger for re-ordering. You can decide how frequently you get notified, who gets alerted, and whether that notification arrives via email or in-app reminder. (You can also set alerts for date-based notifications, such as maintenance alerts, expiration alerts, or warrant expiration alerts.)
If you’re keeping inventory by hand or via spreadsheet, you’ll need to physically count tools to figure out what to order.
For items that you do not already have order minimums for, we recommend working with your suppliers to determine minimum order quantities, lead times, and more. You can review your inventory reports to help forecast demand and set inventory minimums accordingly.
Determine what days of the week or month you’ll place orders for different suppliers, and then use your inventory list to determine exactly what you’ll need to buy. Inventory software can help inform when and how much to re-order, but you’ll still need to place those orders consistently to avoid running out. The more organized and automated your process is, the better.
Sortly is a top-rated inventory management software solution designed to help your company track tools, equipment, assets, inventory, and more. From keeping your tool cribs organized to helping you kit inventory effectively, Sortly can help your growing, busy business stay organized.
Ready to try out the easiest, most efficient way to track your business’s tools? Try Sortly free for two weeks.