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Top 5 Construction Industry Trends for 2017

January 24th, 2017   |   Posted by: superadmin

Any conversation about construction trends in 2017 will have to consider the impact of the coming Trump administration in the United States. The uncertainty that plagued the construction industry last year while awaiting the election results could give way to cautious optimism. This is due to Donald Trump’s promises to cut regulations, his background in construction and development, and his massive infrastructure proposal.

On the other hand, some predict that material prices could rise due to possible trade conflicts with other countries, including China. In addition, stricter immigration policies could certainly affect the industry’s labor forces. Some simply feel that Trump’s unpredictability could cause trouble for an industry that’s desperately seeking some stability.

So while we wait to see how the coming administration will affect the industry as a whole, here are five specific construction industry trends we think will have a big impact in 2017:

1.) Lack of Qualified Workers: The dwindling labor pool is a continuing trend that started as far back as 2006. Between April 2006 and January 2011, almost 2.3 million jobs were eliminated from the construction industry workforce. A smaller pool of workers coming into the industry, coupled with an aging workforce, is creating a hardship for construction firms needing employees for managerial roles in the skilled trades.

2.) Offsite/Modular Construction: Prefab or modular construction isn’t new; however, experts believe this building method will grow in 2017. This alternative to traditional construction methods can save on scheduling time and material costs. In addition, if a module is built in a factory, it becomes much easier to maintain quality and reduce the impact of weather.

3.) Implementing More Technology: The rate at which technology is changing and advancing is unprecedented, and the construction industry can certainly benefit from this. Consider the drone or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. These are quickly becoming the safest and most effective way to complete a project survey, both pre- and post-construction. Drones can allow for easy 3D mapping of an area without endangering employees, and recent legislation has made it easier for construction companies to put drones in the air.

4.) A Growing Economy: The chief economist for Associated General Contractors, Ken Simonson, said that the economy will keep growing in 2017, and so will the construction industry, especially in office and apartment construction. He also believes there will be continued growth in power construction, including pipelines and renewables. The economist predicts that private non-residential and residential construction will also see growth this year.

5.) Internet of Things (IoT): As contractors look to cut costs and improve overall efficiency, many are looking to IoT technology – such as employee and equipment tracking – to improve worksite operations. In addition, wearable technology can ensure that workers are aware of hazards on the job site, and equipment sensors can alert staff when machinery maintenance and repaired is needed.

Overall, the construction industry is growing in some aspects and declining in others. This year, technology will play an important role in cost savings, operational efficiencies and worker safety, but a shortage of labor is sure to cause issues on various project worksites. While the effects of the Trump administration will not be known for some time, it is hoped the impact will be positive enough to keep construction on the rise in 2017.

Tool Management Software for Risk Management in Construction

December 21st, 2016   |   Posted by: superadmin

Construction risk management is an organized method of risk identification and measurement, followed by the development, implementation and management of options for addressing those risks. Risk management should be proactive instead of reactive, and in order to be effective, businesses should rely on available tools and techniques to predict and deal with future risks. Many construction companies have a dedicated risk manager; however, risk management is really the responsibility of everyone who is involved in some way in a project.

Businesses know that the most important risk management goal is to prevent problems before they occur, rather than waiting until there is a critical issue that must be deal with immediately. So, the best way to deal with risk management is to ensure there are work processes in place that are clearly defined, safe, efficient, and widely enforced – both at the project level and the enterprise level.

But what does tool management software have to do with risk management in construction? Well, tools, equipment and consumables are important to any construction company. When these items are not carefully tracked using a defined process and system, the company’s risk for projects that are behind schedule, unsafe and costly goes up significantly. With the right tool management software, you can lower the risk of:

  • Tools and equipment theft
  • Lost tools and equipment
  • Hoarding of tools and equipment
  • Misplacement of gloves, hats and uniforms
  • Out-of-stock consumables
  • Overdue tool and equipment maintenance
  • Low productivity and wasted time

With a reliable tool inventory system, the risk of tool loss is minimized, but so is the risk of not having the right tool when it is needed or using tools or equipment that are unsafe because of overdue maintenance. Finally, when the risk of the above problems is reduced, the company’s overall bottom line is improved.

Case Study: Bechtel

Bechtel, a worldwide construction and engineering organization, needed a tool control system that would that would manage the risk of tool loss in two ways. First, it would track items in mobile tool cribs shipped to work sites. Second, it would track tool usage on the job site. ToolHound’s inventory control system benefitted Bechtel by providing accountability with its tool cribs. Now there is a record of who has a tool and who is responsible for its return. Each employee checking out a tool has a personal bar-coded ID.  Each tool also has bar code label, which is scanned using a handheld laser scanner when a tool is checked out. When the tool is returned, the tool bar code and the employee’s bar-coded ID is scanned. This accountability has led to a substantial decrease in risk for Bechtel.

ToolHound’s Tool Management Software Reduces Tool Loss Risk and More

ToolHound provides companies with the assurance that their tools, equipment and consumables are being efficiently managed and tracked. With their easy-to-use, reliable and scalable tool and equipment management software, businesses around the world can avoid stalled productivity and reduce losses due to stolen or hoarded tools and equipment at jobsites. Businesses can also improve accountability, efficiency and their bottom line while minimizing risk.

How the Military Uses RFID for Their Asset Tracking System

November 29th, 2016   |   Posted by: superadmin

During World War II, IBM punch cards and electric accounting machines kept track of U.S. military equipment and supplies around the world. After punch cards came barcodes, which revolutionized military asset tracking. Barcodes are still in use today, and the latest technology, radio frequency identification (RFID), is often used along with barcodes to record, track and manage military equipment and supplies. The U.S. military is increasingly relying on RFID technology to ensure critical equipment and supplies are in the right place at the right time, as well as to help ensure the security of valuable or sensitive materials and equipment. In addition, RFID tags and readers are also used to secure military supplies en route.

Military RFID Applications

Currently, the military distribution system has over 3 million active RFID tags in circulation. In Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and Pakistan, there are over 3,100 tag-reader devices. The Navy, Air Force and Marines have invested in passive RFID technology with promising results.

  • The Navy: RFID readers are at warehouse doors and other receiving points in Hawaii naval installations. The Navy has not only made each RFID tag transaction information visible to its customers, but they have implemented interfaces between RFID technology and naval distribution systems. The successful progress of these improvements has led to analysis regarding whether RFID on vessels for onboard supply processes can be safely used within the Navy’s hazards of electromagnetic radiation to ordnance (HERO). If so, detailed asset tracking and visibility will be possible for shipboard supply.
  • The Air Force: Passive RFID tags are used for managing materials related to nuclear weapons. Each item requires two-person identification and documentation, and passive RFID is helping with these intensive item management inventory requirements. For example, inventory of an entire warehouse can now be completed in minutes with the use of handheld terminals. Items are tracked when they are moved from one area to another, one building to another, or one installation to another. Automatic alerts provide notifications when items do not arrive by their expected delivery time.
  • The Marine Corps: Currently, distribution managers are working to integrate passive RFID with their information systems. Not only will this bring an end to several processes completed by hand, but it could also lead to a significant reduction in human error. Each Marine Corps’ main base already has passive RFID systems that document on-base deliveries.

These are just a few examples of the military applications for RFID. Many more exist, such as the Army using passive RFID to track parachute processing from warehousing, inventory, packing, shipping, jumping and recovery. Implemented in the early 2000s, this has helped eliminate manual methods that are error-prone, labor-intensive and vulnerable to malicious tampering.

The Benefits of Military RFID Applications

The list of benefits for the incorporation of RFID tags is impressive, both for the Department of Defense and its suppliers. For the DoD, the benefits include:

  • Improved asset tracking
  • Replacement of manual procedures
  • Improved labor productivity
  • Improved acceptance and receipt
  • Automated acceptance and receipt

For the DoD’s suppliers, the benefits include:

  • Improved planning
  • Increased ability to ensure supplies and equipment are stocked on DoD shelves
  • Improved efficiency in the recall of defective items
  • Faster receipt of payments

Automated data capture results in efficient material recording, so the location of assets is available at all times.

Asset Tracking with ToolHound

While the military and DoD contractors continue to adopt RFID for asset tracking, they’re far from the only large organizations that can benefit from RFID technology. Companies in construction, oil, gas, mining and other industries can also reap the rewards of ToolHound’s RFID technology. Using a comprehensive database, coupled with a barcode or RFID-based system, ToolHound tracks the issue and return of assets, as well as the transfer of assets among various job sites.

ToolHound’s RFID technology delivers a prompt return on investment and delivers overall peace of mind. Whether you need comprehensive asset tracking for a military application or for a private company, contact ToolHound now to see how our world-class asset tracking system can benefit you.

Benefits of Tracking Consumables with an Inventory Management System

October 26th, 2016   |   Posted by: superadmin

One of the most difficult things to track in a tool room is consumables. Items like nuts, bolts, drill bits, wire, work gloves and more are necessary for doing business; however, almost every company wants a way to cut the expenses related to these items. Without reliable data on consumable usage, it’s easy for a company to fall into a cycle of losing track, running out, purchasing too much and losing track again. As a result, inactive consumables can end up comprising 50 percent of your consumable inventory while, at the same time, consumables that are needed on a daily basis frequently run out.

Even though many industries use different consumables – such as the construction, mining, and oil and gas industries – the challenges involved with tracking consumables remains the same. Here are some of the most common challenges:

  • Needing real-time visibility on consumable inventory
  • Wanting to save time creating purchase orders
  • Assigning consumable billing for each jobsite or project
  • Reviewing back orders

Consumable Inventory Management Solutions

In order to meet the challenges of consumable inventory management, businesses should implement an inventory management system that provides round-the-clock visibility of:

  • Quantities on hand
  • Quantities reserved
  • Quantities checked out and in by each employee
  • The latest costs
  • Automatic billing to project or jobsite
  • Automated purchase ordering

With ToolHound’s inventory control software, ToolHound 5, the above challenges will be met with the proper solution when tracking consumables. Employees who use more consumables than they should to complete each job, or who may even be taking them for use at home or on a side job, can be identified, helping to greatly reduce consumable costs.

Real-time visibility allows for the constant monitoring of consumable inventory, ensuring these items don’t run out and cause missed deadlines or other delays. Automated purchase order generation saves time and money, and custom tool inventory reports can provide the data needed to determine what levels should be maintained for optimum efficiency. Billing consumables per project across multiple sites and at varying rates is fast and accurate with ToolHound, as it is done automatically by the software.

A Complete Tool Tracking Solution

Tracking consumables is notoriously difficult, but the task becomes much easier and faster with ToolHound. Set your own definition of consumable items for your business, ensuring complete accountability. Our efficient, easy-to-use tool inventory management software is a scalable, affordable system that optimizes the efficiency of any construction, mining or industrial operation, no matter how big or small the project may be.

Along with consumable inventory management, companies that have large tool inventories can enjoy cost savings, increased operational efficiencies and overall peace of mind with ToolHound’s many other features, such as monitoring and scheduling items needing repair, maintenance or calibration, equipment rental management, and easy integration into existing barcode or RFID systems. ToolHound also provides personalized technical support with onsite training and installation expertise. For more information about our tool and equipment tracking options, please contact us at any time.

 

Barcode vs. RFID: What’s More Rugged for Your Tool Inventory?

September 27th, 2016   |   Posted by: superadmin

When tracking tools and equipment, construction and mining companies must often contend with the harsh environments the tools are used in. Tools can become covered in dirt, grease and contaminants that make them difficult to track. This is why companies with large a large tool inventory seek rugged, durable equipment tracking solutions that ensure accurate inventory counts, check-outs and check-ins, and preventive maintenance schedules no matter what condition a piece of equipment is in.

Two of today’s most reliable and popular solutions involve using barcodes and/or RFID tags to track tools and equipment. Both systems involve attaching labels or tags to each tool and using a combination of readers, scanners and software to track them. However, there are important differences between these two technologies and their applications, especially when it comes to their use in tough environments.

Barcodes

Barcodes have been the dominant system for tracking items for the past few decades – with good reason. They’re small, light and inexpensive, allowing companies with large inventories to track hundreds of items simply and easily. This system can be advantageous for construction or mining firms because barcodes can be printed directly on plastic, metal or just about any other surface. Also, barcodes do not experience interference issues related to the type of material they’re printed on, allowing them to be read reliably in many different applications.

At the same time, barcode readers require a direct line of sight to scan a barcode. This means that barcodes must be placed on the outside of a piece of equipment or a tool, subjecting it to potential wear and tear. Excessive grease and dirt can also make a barcode unreadable. In general, barcode readers are not as fast as RFID – they take about a half second or more to read a barcode.

RFID Tags

RFID tags offer several advantages over traditional barcodes. Line of sight is not required for RFID readers to read active or passive RFID tags. The tags can be read much faster, with read rates of dozens of tags per second.

RFID tags are often much more rugged due to the covering that typically protects the electronic components. In addition, RFID tags can even be placed inside the equipment or tool itself, guaranteeing greater longevity and ruggedness. These tags can be read reliably in very harsh environments.

RFID systems are often more expensive than barcodes; however, in addition to their superior durability, an RFID system offers many more tracking options and advances features, such as read/write capability. This means that information can be stored on each tag, including the next date for maintenance, when a part was ordered, and when it is due to be received. These tags are also very difficult to replicate and can store password-protected or even encrypted data.

What’s Better for Your Tool Inventory?

Barcodes, while not as advanced as RFID tags, still have an important place in tool inventory tracking. In some cases, a hybrid solution may be the best option for your company, as it may make the most financial sense to use barcodes on less expensive or consumable items while tracking more expensive assets with RFID. Overall, RFID tags are more rugged, faster to read, more secure, and offer greater functionality. RFID will continue to be adopted more and more often by construction and mining companies in the future.

Whatever technology your company uses, ToolHound can be integrated to optimize your tracking, reporting, purchasing, rentals and many other areas of your operation. ToolHound functions with barcodes, RFID or both to make your tool tracking simple and efficient. Whether you’re looking to implement a new RFID or barcode system, or you want to improve the performance of your existing technology, ToolHound ensures you’ll get the best return on investment.