How to reduce long tool service times

long tool service times

When tools are being used day after day on the construction site, now and again tools will break and need repairing. Unfortunately, tool service times often result in long project delays and can become a costly process. While the damaging of tools is generally unavoidable, what you can work on is how to reduce the amount of time tools spend being serviced and repaired.

While your company likely already uses some form of fleet management, there is a chance that the company you’re working with isn’t providing you with loan tools or a guaranteed time frame, which could lead to a huge amount of downtime. 

 

What causes long tool service times?

Long tool service times are caused by poor processes, both with the tool supplier and in-house. A lack of communication, lengthy travel and repair times contribute to this tedious process that can be damaging to overall productivity.

In-house processes

When a tool breaks on site, the repair process is often unnecessarily time consuming, costly and potentially unsafe due to poor communication and management. This in turn causes long service times when the tool eventually goes in for repair.

On site, damaged tools quite often sit idle until someone informs management of the problem, or until someone takes it to the warehouse where it usually stays for a long time. This is because companies tend to stockpile broken tools until they have a group of them from the same supplier that can be sent for repair. The thought process behind this, although incorrect, is often that it saves time to stockpile them and then do a bulk order rather than fix tools immediately. 

It is common for the number of broken tools in warehouse storage to increase, because without an effective tool service provider, it is usually more costly to repair a single tool, forcing companies to stockpile a number of broken tools for repair. This can lead to a number of issues:

  • A large number of tools in storage means they are not being used and therefore not making money, which could be detrimental to both efficiency and cost on site in the long run.

  • A damaged tool may need repairing right away, and risks obtaining further issues when in storage. Often, a broken tool in storage will be forgotten about meaning it is not available when it is needed. 

This could mean that a company has to rely on spare tools, however it is not ideal for larger companies to rely on these. Instead, they should work with companies who will cut down the servicing time to a minimum and who will provide loan tools to cover for the downtime.

You must also make sure that any tools in your possession are safe. To do this, ensure that all tools are equipped with the latest safety technology; for example, many tools have safety measures such as torque control or dust extraction, which are designed to prevent accidents on site and long term injuries. 

If your tools don’t have these features they risk becoming non-compliant, potentially damaging your health and safety standards and making you liable down the line if an accident was to occur.

To avoid these internal issues, it is best to ensure that first and foremost, all the tools in your possession are properly maintained and up to date with regular testing. However, in order to reduce downtime and improve efficiency, a company should be working with tool suppliers with a guaranteed service time frame

While your company may have some form of fleet management already in place, you may need to switch to a company who can provide loan tools while you wait for yours to be repaired or serviced. This means that tasks do not have to be prolonged as your tool can be serviced quickly and efficiently, and loan tools can help you finish jobs to a high quality.

 

Tool manufacturer’s processes

Long service times are not solely down to poor in-house processes, as tool manufacturers also contribute to much of the delay due to slow service. 

When a broken tool is eventually taken to be repaired, it can take weeks for a full service, due to the to-and-fro between businesses, which is highly inefficient. A repair shop may be miles away from site, meaning more time has to be dedicated to transporting the tool, which eats into project time and lowers productivity. On top of this, there is also a lengthy quoting process: this happens before the tool is sent for repair and clarifies if a tool is worth repairing or will simply be replaced.

Once the tool arrives for its service, it can take a number of days for the supplier to identify the issue, assess the damage, decide what needs to be repaired and then perform the service. This lengthy process increases the amount of time that a tool isn’t on site and therefore isn’t being used, which is highly inefficient. 

When the tool is fixed, it can take considerable time before it is collected and transported back to the site. Most manufacturers only send the tools back to the local depot, meaning that means someone from your company has to come and collect it. After this, it then gets booked into the warehouse and often only after that does it come back to site. This can add several days to the process and increase downtime spent waiting for the tool to be returned.

The time spent transporting and collecting tools can affect how smoothly a project is running, and it can be extremely frustrating for the individual tasked with moving the tool. One way to avoid these issues is to consider purchasing tools from a larger company with a guaranteed servicing timeframe. This will reduce the time spent between booking the tool for repair and getting it back. 

However, in order to improve this entire process, a company will need to fix their internal processesses of dealing with broken tools; they must get out of the habit of stockpiling tools in order to benefit from repairing tools with a company that has a 3 day or free service agreement.

 

What are the implications of long tool service times?

The implications of poor internal and external processes can be detrimental to overall productivity, with two main areas being seriously affected:

Time

 

  • The entire repair process (both internal and external) can be an extremely lengthy and often tedious process. The various admin tasks needed within the process can lead to a large amount of downtime which has negative implications on overall productivity, creating a number of project delays which can be easily avoided.

  • Travelling between repair shop and site (and the time costs associated with this) mean that time is spent sorting out broken tools that could be spent working on site. This can be avoided if the customer has a service agreement with a tool supplier who will be able to pick the tools for repair and return them to site when they are fixed, which cuts out the warehouse and reduces lost time.

Cost

  • Having to invest in expensive replacement or rental tools on a job-by-job basis is not only inefficient but costly. Money spent on replacing as well as repairing a broken tool is unnecessary, but it becomes the case for many companies who don’t have equipment with convenient servicing.

  • Having an excessive amount of spare or rental tools can be expensive because while they are waiting to be used they are not generating any revenue. On top of this, it creates downtime for workers who have to wait to use spare tools.

This is prolonged further when no spare tool is available or it is poor quality. Partnering with a service provider who can give you loan tools when yours need repairing can eliminate this cost and hassle.

 

  • Repair services, while costing little for parts and labour, can become extremely costly when the extent of damage exceeds what was perceived by the company, leading to more money spent on a stationary tool that isn’t being used.

  • Project delays due to long tool service times can also cost a considerable amount of money, especially if the broken tools lead to an incomplete project that doesn’t meet a client’s deadline. This could also be damaging to a company’s reputation.

To prevent long tool service times and improve your company’s overall productivity, you may want to think about reassessing your tool provider, or implementing an asset management system

This way, you can reduce service times and improve productivity, while also ensuring overall compliance on site. As health and safety is key, it is important to ensure that it isn’t compromised by the needlessly lengthy process of repairing broken tools. 

For more information about productivity, see our productivity analysis.

 

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