A Review Of Tool Inventory Control Systems

By Adriana Noton

Tool Inventory Control is a system for tool management that can reduce unit losses and result in significant new purchase savings. Management systems range from simple, low tech methods to the latest high tech time saving systems. They are incorporated in many business applications and settings including manufacturing plants, construction sites, repair shops, and maintenance operations.

Manual inventories have long been used by business to provide accountability. By checking items in and out the same way a book is accounted for at a library, it is possible to know where the item is, or at least who was last responsible for it. This system makes users more responsible and leaves little room for theft, misplacement, negligent loss, or shifting of blame onto others.

These manual systems have several drawbacks, however. They require multiple people to be involved for verification that transactions occurred and were accurately documented. The process can be time consuming and means that work time is negatively impacted, or additional salaried employees are required.


More recent innovations incorporate the use of identifiers such as bar codes or radio frequency identifiers on each specific unit. Bar code identifiers are the same type as is used in retail applications to track inventory. RFID tags contain an integrated circuit in each tag. These circuits may be encoded with, and store unique identifying information. Each tag also includes an antenna for sending and receiving signals. These tags are also commonly used in retail settings. Cost is relatively inexpensive.

Applying either of these identifiers to all valuable equipment allows the use of scanners or readers, also known as interrogators, to document in and out transactions. Kits containing multiple pieces can be encoded and read as one transaction as a time saving measure. Readers can be portable, real time, wireless devices for remote use.

Through use of tracking software all transactions are logged using technology and removing some of the human element. This minimizes the opportunity for error or collusion. It allows employees to spend their time working on their projects, while the management software takes care of the paperwork.

Completely automated systems are available. These vending machine type dispersing devices allow the user to complete his transactions independently. By using either his PIN or an ID card he can log into the system. If he is not certified to use the system, or a particular equipment, he can be denied. Access to only the equipment requested is given. Equipment is returned in the same way and other employees need not be taken away from their work, or hired, to monitor the system.

These systems can be used to dispense materials as well. Scales in the storage bin will account for units removed and insure they match the transaction logged by the user. They can also generate purchase orders as the materials are depleted.

Tool Inventory Control systems have evolved as new technology became available. Today’s innovative tool inventory software makes accounting for items and controlling costs from theft, loss, and misplacement easy and cost effective..

About the Author: ToolHound helps companies of all sizes maximize Tool Management by ensuring the right tool is in the right place when it is needed.

Source: isnare.com

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