In the old days, people used to painstakingly craft equipment components by hand. Now, we can get replacement parts 3D printed by a robot in a matter of minutes or hours.
Equipment management experienced similar technological advancements. People initially needed to call or mail-in orders for new equipment, and those orders took weeks or even months to be fulfilled. Today, we don't have to leave the construction site to order replacement parts.
We can request them from the comfort of our phones and have the equipment delivered overnight.
However, this convenience comes at a cost because it can blind the inefficiencies within an organization, which can present a costly drain if left unrecognized.
This article is a guide towards identifying and removing these hidden costly biffs and help you manage your company’s assets more efficiently.
#1 Inventory Your Equipment
Your first task in productive equipment management is to develop an accurate and real-time inventory of your assets. Your staff should count all your equipment, label it, and import its information into one central database, ideally cloud-based.
The cloud is an online computing platform that is available to all authorized staff.
You can choose from a variety of platforms for real-time storage and information retrieval. Online spreadsheets like Google Sheets are the simplest form of cloud-based platforms you could use for asset management, but they also have some downsides.
The advantage of the cloud is that the information is accessible at any time anywhere in the world; it's safer and more reliable.
Information saved in the cloud is also much more resistant to disasters and data loss, which is pivotal to your organization because you can't afford to inventory equipment over again.
Likewise, it's easier to keep the information about your equipment up to date when using solutions built specifically for this purpose.
Gathering data and maintaining it is critical to the long-term success of your organization, especially if:
- Your equipment is obsolete and upgrading the tools could be very expensive
- Your machinery is highly customized, and building replacements could take a long time
- This equipment is pivotal to your daily operations
You can choose from a variety of developers for inventory tools, or you can combine a hand scanner with a basic cloud-based spreadsheet.
With many off the shelf systems, you can directly import information about an individual asset you have and track your equipment across several work sites.
#2 Analyze Your Inventory
Take your intelligence to the next level by understanding how your equipment contributes to the success of your enterprise.
- How often do you use a particular tool or machine?
- Who uses it?
- When do your employees use this equipment?
- Where is it used?
If your equipment management software doesn’t provide these answers, you will need data analytics professionals to curate your figures and extract the information. You can also choose from a variety of different software packages for your analysis.
Data Flair recommends using applications like SAS, Apache Spark, or BigML, but even Excel and Google Sheets have Data options and can provide useful insights.
#3 Predict Your Expenditures
If your company manages multiple warehouses or work sites, then it is pivotal that your analysis includes predicting expenditures. That way, if you are in the construction business, you could equally distribute your equipment assets across all your construction sites.
Now, let's assume that you are only lifting slabs at a single site. Since you don't need to use the same tools across all areas, it's the job of your analytics team to predict where your equipment will be utilized and when.
It is also likely that this knowledge might not be immediately apparent in your analysis.
Still, the habit will sharpen the efficiency, and you will achieve savings over time through repeated accounting and analysis of your inventory.
#4 Avoid Unnecessary Spending
Efficiency is the ruthless discipline in waste reduction. Would you purchase a computer and then never use it? I doubt you will.
Equipment management gives you insights and figures to make smarter purchases with the company money and reduce spending on things that aren't vital to your daily operations.
You could begin by finding the equipment that is most used in your business and build a surplus. Likewise, you will save money by eliminating assets that are never or rarely used.
#5 Leverage Data for Predictive Maintenance
Maintenance can be pricey, but downtime costs even more.
While you cannot avoid breakdowns entirely, and you still need to service your equipment, you can apply data analytics to predict machine breakdowns and the associated costs.
Information on the purchase date, warranty expiration date, together with the data about usage, can help you prioritize repairing your most used equipment. Rarely used but critical equipment should also be serviced at regular intervals.
#6 Identify and Resolve Issues Quickly
Data analytics is essential, but it can only remove some inefficiencies from your enterprise. Luckily, even when issues arise, data can identify systemic ones.
For example, let's assume that you operate a crucial piece of equipment, and it breaks down. Having out of service equipment is irritating, but it happens.
But what follows when one equipment breaks down repeatedly?
These breakdowns will likely turn into a severe operational and financial drain on your business if left unresolved.
Instead, you can identify these problems using the power of the cloud and data analytics. When engineers finish repairing the equipment, you could instruct them to file the report in the software database.
When the same equipment is repeatedly out of service, it could be for a common reason. This reason could be as simple as employee misuse or even a design flaw. If the problem lies in poor handling, additional training can help to eliminate the problem at significant cost savings.
With the data reports and analytics, you should be able to figure out the underlying reason for the failure and nip it in the bud.
#7 Focus On Equipment Quality
While it is critical to investigate all equipment problems, some things will inevitably break or stop working due to obsolescence. When this occurs, it is vital to exercise the same due diligence for new purchases that you did for inventory and repairs.
There are many things to consider when purchasing new equipment.
- What have other buyers said about the equipment? Are there positive reviews?
- Are the tools reliable for professional use?
- Is the hardware a good value?
Keep in mind that product reviews are not 100% accurate, and they are occasionally fraudulent. You will still need to know the performance statistics to ensure that your new asset was an excellent purchase.
And after you buy new equipment, inventory it and subject it to the same scrutiny as your existing hardware.
#8 Optimize Your Inventory Management
It's entirely possible to accomplish all of this inventory work using charts and a pencil, but why would you do that? You could input all of these figures into an excel sheet, but that's not how you reach optimum efficiency.
The more complex your business operations are, the more robust solution you will require.
Your best option is to use software optimized for inventory work, like an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) program. You can choose from at least a dozen options depending on your needs and budget.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software automatically streamlines any business’s data management process using various applications. Even schools are using ERP software to aid in their infrastructure planning. If it can help a school, it can most certainly help your business.
Choosing the right ERP software for your brand is not an easy task, which is why we suggest you look for the following features:
Businesses that look deeply into the future are the ones that can adapt to changes within their industry and beat their competition when the future arrives.
Flexibility means looking at what your ERP software can do for you 5 to 10 years down the road.
- Does it have features that can grow with the business?
- Does it integrate well with your current technology?
- Will it be able to integrate with future technology?
Your equipment tracking solution should be an integral part of your business growth, and the only way for that to happen is if it is flexible enough to change with the times.
If you haven’t heard by now, most companies are going mobile.
50% of the global workforce should go mobile by the end of this year (2020).
The equipment management solution you choose should also be able to go mobile, or there will be many downtimes when it comes to accessing data and applications.
Mobile accessibility is especially important to remote employees who need to access your ERP system while they work on various sites away from the base.
Customization and Rich Data Features
If at all possible, get a software that you can customize to your work processes.
You should be able to choose which data you need to have and which is irrelevant for a particular group of tools. The more information options a software allows, the better.
Your ERP solution should not only automate your workflow but extend to every individual who will use the software.
Such a solution will get the right data, to the right people, at the right time.
How We Optimize Equipment Management
At GoCodes, we recognized the importance of building a simple application for smartphones that any individual could use to track equipment and other company assets.
Our software instantly reads any QR label from a piece of equipment and lets you print your custom QR codes that best fit your equipment. We provide regular polyester labels and industrial metal markers for dirty and abrasive construction locations.
Using your smartphone, you can photograph the hardware for better tracking its condition. Thanks to the automatic GPS position records that come with each scan, you will always know where your equipment is.
Additionally, we can customize GoCodes to fit your needs best. From custom data fields to product attributes, you can list whatever information you desire. Further, you can document the identity and log time of any employee that utilizes the equipment.
We are aware of the importance of analytics in business. Our software comes furnished with mathematical tools for the easy survey of your inventory.
Your only job is to mark hardware as assets or consumables, and GoCodes application automatically traces the quantity of the product and sends you a notification when the stock is low.
Transaction histories are also available for your inspection or analysis by your team.
Schedule or request equipment maintenance with the convenient pressing of a few keys-just scan the QR code on the asset from any public available scanner and send a text or email request for maintenance.
The details of the service can then be shared with the appropriate departments.
We recognize the extraordinary importance of the cloud for modern businesses, so we designed GoCodes to operate entirely in the cloud from any device or location of your choosing.
Security access configures to meet your requirements, and you can choose from different access levels:
- Group Administrator
- Asset Manager
- Asset Assignor
- Read-only access
When you start using GoCodes, you just need to go through the simple process of copying your figures into our spreadsheets and verifying them.
Increasing efficiency within an organization can be challenging. Inventory-wise, you have to catalog equipment and record them in a database, then you need to analyze files for insights into financial savings.
The science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein once said, “Progress isn’t made by early risers. It’s made by lazy men trying to find an easier way to do something.”
You can accomplish much when you take small steps. Efficiency is all about identifying small hacks to make your job easier. Luckily, software solutions for equipment management exist to group all those actions in one place.
They can be easily customized to adapt to your business needs and will help you manage all your equipment more efficiently.