Professionals in the construction trades face issues related to speed, efficiency, and waste every day. In fact, balancing these requirements with the practicalities of getting the job done pretty much defines the role of the superintendents, project managers, and foremen heading up every active jobsite in the nation right now.
But, it’s not just limited to the boots on the ground or the folks calling the shots at each site. The same concerns impact designers, estimators, engineers, and even the man or woman sitting in the corner office. Everyone who designs and builds structures for a living knows that profit margins are thin and competition is fierce. Any time or money that can be saved without sacrificing quality is the option that needs to be pursued.
A simple but powerful way to do that, which some firms still haven’t taken advantage of yet, is asset management software.
HOW DOES IT WORK IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY?
Every construction firm maintains an inventory of supplies, tools, personal protective equipment (PPE), vehicles and other valuable assets for use on the job. It’s important that they know:
- what items they have;
- where each item is at any given time; and
- who has them.
Beyond just knowing those basics, they also need to be able to:
- determine when it’s time to order a new supply or replace a broken tool;
- decide when they need to perform scheduled maintenance so tools and equipment can be used safely; and
- maintain a level of security so tools and equipment don’t suddenly disappear through accidental loss or intentional theft.
To accomplish all of this, an asset tracking system of some kind is necessary.
In most small companies, a simple Excel spreadsheet or even a paper log sheet on a clipboard does the job well enough. The trouble with a system like that is it doesn’t scale well. If a firm has grown to the point where it’s handling multiple jobs at once with a varied inventory of reusable and consumable items that’s constantly changing, those manual methods won’t cut it for long.
That’s where a more robust asset management software solution comes in. It’s a flexible inventory combined with some quick and simple means of keeping the database updated with each item’s latest status. The most common scanning methods include barcode and RFID, each of which have their own pros and cons.
The key is that the database and scanner work together to highly automate asset tracking activities and remove most (if not all) of the human error from the equation.
WHAT CAN IT DO FOR THE COMPANY?
The main benefits of deploying an asset management solution include:
- reducing labor cost by eliminating the need for full-time inventory personnel;
- speeding up the process for claiming and returning reusable assets (such as tools and vehicles);
- offering clear visibility into current inventory in real time, as well as deep reporting and analytics to determine past conditions and future inventory needs; and
- adding a significant layer of accountability to the process, which reduces shrinkage due to loss or theft.
in short, using an asset management software solution saves a compay time and money from day one.
WHERE’S THE SAVINGS?
Going back to the age-old goals every construction company is after—speed, efficiency, and waste reduction—just think about where the firm is wasting time and money right now from an inventory management perspective.
Following are some examples of where a business may be currently losing cash:
- buying a new tool for an upcoming job because the company doesn’t realize another one is sitting, unused, on a jobsite;
- buying too small a stock of supplies, forcing a rush order to be placed partway through the job at a premium price, plus priority shipping;
- paying someone all day every day to walk around counting things over and over again, but still not getting real-time visibility into inventory;
- repeatedly losing inventory items, but not knowing where to start looking or who to talk to about it; and
- running an expensive tool or vehicle into the ground because no one realized it hadn’t been serviced recently.
In all these cases, and many more, a quality asset management software solution achieves the goals every construction professional is after. By increasing visibility into inventory and providing a reliable foundation for intelligent purchasing and resource management, a robust asset management solution can increase speed and efficiency in multiple phases of construction while reducing wasted time, duplication of efforts and unnecessary expense or loss.
Contractors looking for a quick, inexpensive, simple, but powerful way to boost profit and create competitive differentiation in the construction process should consider investing in asset management software today.
Reprinted from ConstructionExec.com, June 10, 2018, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.