It is estimated that contractors in the United States lose more than $1 billion annually in lost or stolen assets, which can negatively impact project profitability. One way to improve this is by streamlining the management of a contractor’s assets. Be it tools, consumables or even vehicles, better management of these items help companies keep track of their assets and ultimately strengthen their bottom line. When choosing the best method for tracking assets, many companies manually track and manage assets with spreadsheets, whiteboards or simple numbering systems, which are painted or engraved on an asset. Some even use a traditional, paper-based approach. While these methods help achieve some organization, they are extremely time-consuming and can be prone to error.
On most jobsites, it is becoming necessary to implement more formal solutions for managing assets. These solutions are typically a combination of a cloud-based software and some form of hardware to identify the assets (i.e. RFID, Bluetooth, barcode, etc.). A benefit of using cloud-based software is that it provides users with the real-time status of where tools, commodities and consumables are located, enabling contractors to plan asset assignments and optimize transit of equipment. However, the benefits of asset management solutions go beyond asset tracking. Many software solutions can be used to manage tools and inventory, helping to eliminate costs associated with redundant purchases, as well as tracking asset condition. Recording inventory and setting minimum stock levels helps ensure that the needed consumable products are always available.
In addition, most traditional tracking and inventory methods do not record asset repairs, maintenance or the records of employee certifications. When using cloud-based software, maintenance strategies can be developed to plan for tool maintenance and avoid downtime, which allows contractors to move from reactive maintenance to preventative maintenance. And, unlike traditional tracking methods, information can be retrieved and printed in minutes. When looking to invest in an asset management system, there are a few key things to keep in mind:
- Does the software provider offer on-site implementation services?
- What is the aftermarket service and support? Is there follow-up training and just-in-time training?
- How frequently is the software updated?
- How many software developers are dedicated to updating and upgrading the system?
- How easy is it to implement the new software?
- Does your company support the implementation?
- What is the longevity of the software company?
As technology continues to quickly change, it is important to invest in software that is continually updated to fit the needs of your organization’s workflow. Look for a solution that offers expertise and recommendations for how it will work in your organization. You also need to be able to customize the change to work and produce benefits specific to your company’s structure. Additionally, implementing an asset management system will take some degree of change management to ensure its success. Asset management will be essential in moving forward to become more innovative in the way construction projects are managed to optimize cost, time and quality. By implementing an asset management solution successfully, there is potential to increase efficiency through the predictive maintenance, asset location utilization tracking and the management of certificates. Ultimately, a comprehensive asset management system can help to:
- Manage assets regardless of brand, function or age
- Track assets by location and employee history
- Plan asset assignments and optimize transit of equipment
- Track asset condition to proactively manage repairs
- Reduce costs associated with redundant purchases, misplaced assets and theft
Currently, manufacturers providing these solutions have already begun advancing the next generation of applications to include options like GPS location tracking of assets and geofencing. More advancements include the addition of employee timecards, which can store certifications and trainings, and improve the monitoring of health and safety requirements. Additionally, data from asset utilization reports can be used to increase transparency and plan for better fleet optimization. These technologies, along with asset management solutions, are investments in the future. Current solutions are only the beginning—continued benefits will come as technology evolves.