Just about every business owns equipment that helps them sell the goods and services they offer to their customers. And whether that equipment is tiny (like computer hard drives) or massive (like construction cranes), tracking it could not be more essential.
This article will dive into how to track equipment inventory, arming you with the best practices you’ll need to streamline your equipment inventory management strategy.
Why is keeping track of equipment so essential?
There are plenty of reasons why tracking equipment is so crucial, from protecting your business’s bottom line to ensuring your accounting team has the information they need to manage your company’s finances. Here are a few standout reasons why keeping track of equipment is critical:
1. Equipment is a long-term asset
Equipment is a long-term, fixed asset—an investment your business expects to hold onto for at least a calendar year (but likely longer). To protect that investment, your business will want to track where it is, who has used it, and what condition it’s in.
2. Equipment can break
All equipment and machinery can suffer damage, whether from overuse, poor storage, improper maintenance, or just bad luck. When you track equipment carefully, your company can effortlessly keep tabs on an asset’s condition while ensuring key maintenance is performed, too.
3. Equipment moves frequently
Quite often, a company’s equipment doesn’t just stay in one place. Instead, it changes hands, moves to different locations, offices, or job sites—or even drives away. Equipment tracking helps create efficiencies by allowing your team to always know where the equipment is—so they don’t need to waste time searching. It can also mitigate loss and theft.
Related: What is asset tracking?
4. Equipment needs to be easy to find for busy employees
Finally, the right equipment inventory management system will make it easy for employees to find the equipment, machinery, or tools they need to complete a task. After all, the goal is for your team to work productively—not search for things!
And, if you’re using an inventory app, employees can locate the equipment they need well ahead of schedule, ensuring that when work on a particular project begins, that asset is in the right place.
5. Equipment needs to be tracked carefully by accountants
While all inventory should be tracked carefully, assets require an even closer look by accountants. That’s because long-term assets hugely affect the numbers on your business’s balance sheet and, thanks to depreciation, alter your tax liabilities.
Keeping accurate, detailed inventory records ensures these vital financial documents are completed in a timely, precise matter.
How to keep track of equipment
Effectively tracking equipment is an ongoing process, but establishing an equipment tracking system upfront can help make the process smooth. Here’s how to keep track of equipment for your business:
1. Start with a comprehensive, multi-site audit
Before you begin tracking inventory perpetually, you’ll need to get a holistic view of all the equipment you have in each company location. Start by optimizing your physical inventory’s organization, labeling everything with an asset tag, barcode, or QR code, and creating a comprehensive inventory list.
If you’re using an inventory app like Sortly, you can either sync each item to an existing barcode or QR code or generate custom ones for each asset.
Meanwhile, you should carefully add each and every detail about your equipment to your asset list, including:
- Item name
- Serial number
- Warranty information
- Key maintenance dates
- Purchase date
- Expected end of useful life
2. Create a standard operating procedure
To truly keep track of equipment, you’ll need to implement a consistent, achievable inventory strategy. Once you develop a plan, train all employees on the new process and create a written document that explains it clearly. Ensure each employee has the tools and assistance they need to track inventory properly.
Many businesses ask managers to check their employees’ work daily to ensure that policies are followed. You may not need to do this forever, but it’s certainly beneficial at the start. A random audit of inventory responsibilities from time to time can also offer your managers a chance to double-check your inventory system is still thriving.
Remember, you can always speed up the most time-consuming parts of inventory management using an inventory app that offers in-app barcode and QR code scanning or similar functionality.
3. Always track usage, damage, loss, problems
Your inventory management strategy should also define exactly what an employee should do if they notice an item is lost, damaged, or broken. After all, your team needs to know how the condition and whereabouts of each item affect your work schedule, maintenance schedule, and bottom line.
4. Track all maintenance
Equipment maintenance is essential to protecting the value of your long-term assets. And you’ll need to find a way to keep track of all those dates, especially if you have lots of equipment. For example, you can track these dates manually using a traditional calendar or document or upgrade to a shared online calendar or an inventory app. Some inventory apps, such as Sortly, allow you to set maintenance notifications so you know when to service your equipment (which helps protect the life of your equipment).
5. Conduct annual audits to verify inventory records
Finally, your business will want to conduct large-scale audits—or more frequent inventory cycle counts—to verify inventory records. This process can help you determine whether your actual inventory matches your book inventory, identify sites where inventory procedures aren’t being followed, and ensure that all assets are in good condition.
This is also an excellent opportunity to reconcile your asset list with your books—something your accounting team will appreciate come tax season.
Experience the simplest inventory management software.
Sortly is a top-rated inventory management software system designed to help businesses of every shape and size keep track of equipment. With powerful features like barcode and QR code scanning, expiration and warranty end alerts, highly-detailed item profiles, data-rich reporting, and a system that’s perfect for busy, growing businesses, Sortly was designed to help your business keep its inventory organized for good.
Ready to start tracking all that equipment? Get started today with a free, two-week trial of Sortly.