3 Ways to Keep Track of Your Tools
We do our best work when our environment sets the stage for working at our best. As professionals or hobbyists, this means we need to know what tools we have and exactly where they are. We want our garages, shops, and tool sheds to be force multipliers, not junk drawers. No matter where you or your business are along your journey, there are three ways you can keep track of your tools help to improve the quality and efficiency of your work output.
- Identify What You Have and What You Need
This step might seem obvious, but many of us don’t really know exactly what tools we own and the essential items that are missing. To reach the end-state of organizing and tracking your tools and related assets, you first need to determine what you currently have. Then you can assess your current and future needs. You’ll want to dedicate some forethought and analysis into this step to prevent unnecessary impulse buying or underestimating your storage needs.
A thorough assessment might require an excavation and purging of sorts…laying out your full inventory of tools to determine what you have and still need, to remove unneeded tools/duplicates, and to develop an optimal storage plan. Once you’ve done the heavy lifting of determining where you are and where you want to go, it’s time to figure out the best way to organize and store your collection of tools.
2. Implement Storage Solutions
The type of tool storage solutions you choose can drastically improve your ability to organize and track every tool you own. Here are a few best practices to get started:
- For more common items that you need quick and easy access to, it’s best to use some type of wall storage, such as pegboard or slatwall. This will allow you to hang these frequently used items in an organized way that provides efficiency and clean, aesthetic look.
- For common hardware items such as nails, screws, bolts, nuts, washers, etc., use storage bins, storage racks, organizer drawers, or divider trays to make each item easy to separate, label, identify, and access. This will prevent hardware clutter help you gauge when you are low on these everyday hardware supplies.
- For larger tools and collections, use tool cabinets, tool chests/cases, shelving, and tool boxes to consolidate items in the most logical and user-efficient locations. Storage solutions range from basic level toolboxes to professional-grade modular storage units…and endless options in between.
If you don’t have the space for large storage units or you don’t need or like what is available off-the-shelf, sometimes the best solution is to design and create your own DIY storage solution. This approach can save you considerable money and allow you to customize your workspace in a way that meets your needs and vision. Many professionals and hobbyists alike leverage this option to create the right build-out for their working environment and taste. Self-built storage solutions will require some deliberate forethought, planning, and labor, but many find it is the most enjoyable and rewarding way to truly make your workspace your own.
- Use Tracking Systems/Devices
Many individuals and businesses successfully use old school approaches to tracking their tools, such as always returning tools to their designated place and signing out loaner tools using a note pad and carpenter’s pencil. Some prefer to track every item in a spreadsheet with serial numbers and photos. There isn’t one right method. If it works for you, keep the system you have. For individuals and businesses that want a more modern and advanced method for not only organizing tools but tracking their precise location at any given time, there are a number of tracking systems available that provide increased visibility and accountability of the most valuable tools in your collection. For example, Milwaukee’s One-Key system uses asset ID tags that give tool owners tool control options, inventory management, tool tracking, and tool reporting. Similarly, DeWalt’s Tool Connect system allows users to track their tools, equipment, and materials, including asset assignments, diagnostics, and other features that provide real-time and historical data.
For those that don’t quite need or can’t afford these options, there are many other solutions that offer tracking capabilities and are less expensive. Two popular tool trackers are Tile’s Blue Tooth Tracker and GigaTrak’s Tool & Asset Tracking System. Tile’s Blue Tooth Tracker provides a small, blue tooth-enabled finder device and mobile app to track your tools within a 150-foot range. GigaTrack uses a simple barcode-scanning system and tool tracking software to track tool location, tool assignment, tool history, etc. No matter which system you use, it will enhance your ability to track all your tools while preventing misplacement and theft.
Some final thoughts as you begin the process of tracking your tools more efficiently…your best work requires a structured, organized, and inspiring working environment. The way you track your tools directly impacts your working environment. Every tool should have a place and should be readily available to execute its intended purpose. A robust needs assessment, storage solution analysis, and tool tracking system are the key fundamentals to tracking your tools like a pro and creating an optimal tool use experience…so you can continue to create your best work on every project.