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5 signs that you have a tool inventory challenge

toolpark inventory challenge

During day-to-day operations, tools are regularly passed around between workers, vehicles and even different sites. While this is the reality of working in the construction industry, such activity can create a number of challenges in terms of tool inventory.

If you’re unsure where your tools are, or your systems aren’t able to keep track of this constant movement, it can be difficult to ensure workers have the tools they need for the job.

Another issue is keeping your inventory serviced and safe, which can have major implications in terms of compliance, worker safety and efficiency. Ultimately, these challenges can all have a serious impact on your productivity, and more significantly, your company’s bottom line.

Here are 5 signs that you have a tool inventory challenge:

 

1. You’ve got many backup tools at all times

If your toolpark is full of equipment that is not being used, this may indicate a larger overall issue with your tool inventory. While it’s essential to have enough tools for workers to perform the task at hand, having too much equipment can be a bad investment.

Having considerable capital tied up in excess equipment can be damaging to your business’ profitability, with excess inventory pulling valuable resources away from other areas of the company where the capital could be invested more effectively. If you do have a large number of backup tools, it’s important to ask whether this capital is invested well.

With an oversized toolpark, money is not just tied up in the equipment itself, but also spent on maintenance costs. According to the PAT testing guidelines, all tools - even those not in regular use - must be kept regularly serviced and tested to ensure they are in safe working condition. This means equipment will need to undertake PAT testing every 3-6 months on average, which needs to be regularly scheduled and tracked. Such consistent maintenance on unused equipment costs valuable time and money as tools cannot be used on-site without testing, with overinvestment causing real problems across your toolpark.

 

2. You can’t find specific tools when workers ask for them

While this issue may appear to be the opposite of the one above, these two problems can often occur side-by-side. Even if you have enough equipment in circulation, it can still be difficult to find certain items when workers request them.

This can happen for a number of reasons. Often, not being able to find tools occurs due to people not registering a tool when they take it from stock, and passing tools around between different workers and sites throughout the day. Equipment subsequently ends up being stored in vans for long periods of time, which is extremely difficult to keep track of for your tool inventory teams. As a result of this, while you may have plenty of equipment in your toolpark, specific items may be invisible to your systems due to being improperly registered.

All of this can cause increased stress for both workers and support staff, and lead to delays as people try to locate tools manually using the phone.

 

3. Workers are not happy with the tools you give them

Having the wrong tool for the task can be extremely frustrating for workers and can lead to low morale amongst your workforce. Being equipped with unsuitable tools can prolong the length of time it takes to complete a task, while equipment that breaks down often can cause considerable frustration amongst workers.

If this is a regular occurence, then it might indicate an issue with your tool inventory, as workers are consistently being supplied with equipment that is either not being properly maintained, or is simply not designed to cope with the task at hand. When this issue arises, some workers may start to hoard the tools they like, which can lead to considerable unhappiness amongst those who may feel short-changed that they have to make do with unsuitable equipment in comparison to their colleagues.

This can impact productivity on site, and lead to morale problems across your workforce.

4. Having to regularly decide between repairing or replacing tools

If you have an ageing toolpark, you may regularly be facing the question ‘should I repair this tool again, or would it be better to replace it?’. This decision is never an easy one - certain tools may be under warranty when others are not, while the cost of repairs can vary considerably across different types of equipment.

The issue is not necessarily in the decision itself, but rather the frequency of this problem occuring. If you’re having to make this decision on a regular basis, then this indicates a larger problem within your tool inventory.

Tools are out of commission during this decision-making process, which may mean replacement tools are required for ongoing jobs. This can cost considerable time and money - particularly if you’re having to rent tools regularly, and only serves to prolong the issue instead of addressing it.

5. Not knowing what tool was serviced when

As mentioned above, it’s essential to ensure all tools are regularly serviced. This isn’t just to reduce downtime and improve productivity on-site, but ensure your equipment is fully compliant with the appropriate regulations, such as the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER).

This means that it’s important to maintain proof that tools are safe to use through service records. As a duty holder, it’s important to know your tools are safe and in good working order. If you don’t have this information, this can lead to potential issues should either an inspection occur, or if any accidents take place.

If you don’t know when each tool has been serviced and when, this indicates a problem within your inventory systems that needs to be addressed.

These various issues are broader symptoms of an overall tool inventory problem, and understanding the root cause can help alleviate these symptoms. Our free guide on how to increase productivity can help you optimise your toolpark through effective and efficient inventory management, promoting improved productivity across your operations.

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