Equipment Security

June 2007

Other than standard lock and tag procedures, what extraordinary measures does your company take to ensure that your company’s tools and equipment are returned safely from the job site?

We use to make sure that are tools are returned safely from the job site is a program called ToolWatch. This software utilizes a handheld PC that tracks our tools by using a bar code sticker that we assign to the tool, and the tool’s inherent serial number. The handheld PC allows us to check the tools out to employees and then requires them to sign for the tool using a digital signature that is stored in our database and could be used if a dispute arises. When they are finished with the tool they bring it in, we scan the barcode and assign it back to the warehouse, and then the employee will sign for the tool using the handheld PC showing that they have safely returned the tool.

The software is also convenient for locating specific tools that you might need for a special job. What you can do is pull up a specific tool, such as a drill, and do a search using the ToolWatch handheld PC. It will tell you the location of each individual drill, which would then allow you to contact the owner of the tool to see if he still needed it and then have it returned to the warehouse. It also allows you to print out reports that give you a detailed account of what each employee or job has under its name.

This is just a brief summary of what this software is capable of. I have been very satisfied with level of security ToolWatch has given to our company. It has reduced theft of equipment, which everyone knows can cost a company thousand of dollars each year.
—DENNIS CARROLL, Purchasing Agent, Daley’s Drywall & Taping, Campbell, CA

These tips are from our Safety Committee, which consists of two office personnel, our superintendent and two foremen.

-Gang boxes are to be locked at all times and only unlocked in the presence of a foreman or superintendent.
- Tools and equipment are tracked with transfer tickets (by job or individual) and inventoried, which is administered by our equipment manager.
- Anyone in possession of tools not assigned to them or the job they are on, or using a tool that is not in proper working order, are subject to disciplinary action in the form of suspension and up to termination.
- Tagged-out items are returned in a timely manner to our shop where they are quarantined in our tool room until repaired or destroyed.
- Our tool room at the shop is always locked unless occupied by our equipment manager, and has limited access, 5 people.

There are many precautions you can take to ensure that company owned tools and equipment remain on the job site and are returned in a working order:

- Inventory—An inventory list allows tool and equipment flow. Also, this creates a paper trail for stolen or misplaced tools and equipment.
- Transfer Sheets—A transfer sheet is needed on all jobs when a piece of equipment or tool is transferred by a field employee. This sheet must be copied to the office for proper documentation.
- History Report—A history report needs to be recorded on each piece of equipment that is included in the inventory list. This allows feedback from the field if a certain tool has a history of problems.
- Training—Training your field personnel to look out for there equipment is key to ensure that the tool is returned in a working order. We train our field personnel when on a job to always close the gang box, out of sight out of mind … . It is a good chance that any theft on a job site started with an inside tip. If you consistently close the gang box lid, it might just keep a curious eye away.
- Mobile Theft—DeWalt makes an attachable tracking device that you can monitor if a piece of equipment is removed from the job site. You can find more information at www.dewalt.com/us/security/mobilelock/.
—SAFETY COMMITTEE, South Texas Drywall, Inc., Columbus, OH

A mentalist is hired who casts a memory spell on the equipment and special amulets are tied on with Gordian knots at a secret spacing to protect the equipment until such a time as it can be stolen without injury or confrontation.

Each tool is labeled in sequence, and every supervisor has a list and all the information needed to ensure that all tools are accounted for. Each supervisor of our company has to report each week where all tools are, how long they need them and when they expect it back in the shop.
—Dickinson Drywall, West Bridgewater, MA

We engrave every tool with our company name, address, phone number, serial number and date of purchase. Also, we have our foreman on the job site sign for tools, so that gets them to know that that tool is assigned to him. Throughout the course of the job, we randomly call and check his inventory to see what tools he has.

We use a software tracking program that is used with a scanner and bar codes. This works great if you stay on top of it, The software we use is Small Tool Tracking by Landmark Data Systems.
—LEON KERNS, President, Superior Interiors Inc., Boise, ID

Every piece of equipment, be it scaffold or hand tools, is listed on a daily sheet along with materials per specific job by our warehouse manager. Nothing leaves the warehouse without being logged. This sheet is then input to the job-costing on a daily basis. When a job-costing is run for the project, these items show up as still being out or returned. The particular foreman is accountable if a piece of equipment is still out. The worst case is that it prompts us to look and/or ask questions. Before we did this, we had no idea where and how much equipment we were losing until it was too late.

We number them, engrave our name on them, sign them out, and sometimes still buy them back at the pawn shop.

We have a sign-in/sign-out sheet.

We use a software program called "ToolWatch.” With this we number all of our tools and then assign/transfer them to specific projects. When the project is done with the tool it is transferred back to the yard, reviewed for safety—guards, cord cuts—damage repaired, etc., and then held in inventory until transferred to the next job. The program has a bar code option that we do not utilize. Since we have been paying better attention to where the tools are, the guys in the field are taking more accountability and have done a better job of keeping track.
—GREGG BRADY, Vice President, Brady Company/Central California, Inc., Castroville, CA

We have a person check out all tools to the foreman on the job (and they are numbered). The foreman is responsible for checking them back in; the in and out dates are recorded. The tool is then cleaned and checked and if it needs repairs, it’s done. It’s also checked for safety issues; then and only then is it ready to be checked out again. We don’t allow the tool to go directly from one job to another.
—BURKE NICHOLSON, Chairman, Bayside Interiors, Inc., Fremont, CA

Numbered large tools and equipment are currently assigned to individuals and the assignment is documented by the use of a tool issuance form. If the item is transferred to another individual, a tool transfer form is used to document the transfer. Tool and equipment inventories are taken quarterly to reconcile and check for accuracy.
—GERRY GOLT, Vice President, Precision Walls Inc., Cary, NC