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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 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 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.

How Construction Inventory Management Solves Scheduling Problems

August 30th, 2016   |   Posted by: superadmin

When a construction firm has multiple projects in the works, scheduling the use of equipment can often become complicated and cumbersome. This is especially true if there is a significant distance between projects or if the projects will require many of the same tools. One of the best ways to ease the burden of scheduling workers and equipment is with a construction inventory management system.

Meeting Project Schedules

It’s imperative to your company’s reputation that you meet project milestones and completion deadlines. Without a construction inventory management system in place to ensure tools and equipment are where they need to be when they need to be, it becomes more difficult for the project to be completed on time. Waiting on equipment to be delivered or not knowing where that equipment is located can negatively affect other workers and their schedules, the budget for manpower and replacement tools, and the overall project budget and completion date.

Managing Consumables

Consumable inventory such as nuts, bolts, drill bits, wire and batteries are notoriously difficult to keep track of. If the inventory is not present when needed, there can be many wasted man-hours, which means lost money and project delays. An efficient consumable management system can not only alert you when inventory is low, but make it quick and easy to get more on the way and keep your project schedule on track. Also, billing consumables per project will become easier.

Automated Scheduling of Preventative Maintenance

Compliance in matters of preventative maintenance, calibration and inspection must be strictly followed per industry standards. Long gone are the days of using Excel and other similar databases to track the scheduling of preventative maintenance tasks. A preventative maintenance management and compliance system can ensure these tasks are completed on-schedule and as dictated by safety authorities. This helps limit liability by increasing safety and quality control as well. Automating the scheduling of preventative maintenance on tools and equipment can reduce employee workloads, too, as there is no need to record all maintenance information by hand.

Reduces Paperwork, Increases Accuracy

For larger construction companies, it’s always a challenging task to maintain the accuracy of data and records. Whenever work is being done manually, such as keeping track of inventory through paper logs, human error too often causes these records to be inaccurate. Not only can these types of errors stifle the progress of your projects, but they can also lead to wasted time spent fixing them. By using a construction inventory management system, accuracy can be increased while reducing paperwork, ensuring you can focus on meeting your deadlines.

Construction Inventory Management Keeps You On Track

Properly scheduling employees’ time, as well as the use of tools and equipment, is crucial for efficiency in the construction industry. Regardless of your company’s size or budget, using a system like ToolHound for construction inventory management will help ensure your productivity stays at optimal levels.

Do Smaller Construction Jobs Need Tool Tracking?

July 26th, 2016   |   Posted by: superadmin

It’s commonly thought that comprehensive tool tracking systems are only needed by large construction companies that have massive tool inventories. However, accountability and efficiency aren’t concepts that are exclusive to big operations – it’s essential for construction firms of any size to know where their tools and equipment are and who is using them. There are many benefits of tracking and managing tools and equipment for smaller construction firms, including saving time, money and manpower.

Scaling Upward

A top priority for most business owners is to have their company experience growth. In order to do this, however, smaller construction firms need to eliminate as many hurdles prohibiting their growth as possible. Tool tracking systems ensure that tools are where they need to be and reduce the time and manpower needed to maintain tool rooms and inventories. These efficiencies allow a small construction company to focus on getting more jobs and scaling their business upward. Also, a good tool tracking system scales up along with a business, preventing a company from having to get a new system every few years.

Simplify Project Control

When your company has a tool tracking system in place that works like a library, you will always know where your tools and equipment are, regardless of the size of your job or operation. Employees check out the tools needed for each job and return the tools when the job is complete. This helps simplify overall project control by avoiding stalled productivity, minimizing loss and improving tool utilization.

Preserve Your Investment

With the right tool tracking system, you can preserve your investment on tools and other equipment. The costs of losing equipment due to hoarding, misplacement or theft can be very high and can cause unnecessary financial strain on a small construction firm. Also, as new equipment and tools are added to your construction company’s tool inventory, you can relax knowing your investment is protected through a scalable system.

Save Time

Completing projects on time and on budget are two very important facets of a successful construction company. When time is wasted searching for lost tools or waiting for the right equipment to arrive at the jobsite, it can have a huge negative impact on the final project completion date. You can easily eliminate downtime with the right tool tracking system, thereby helping your employees to finish on time and maintaining your reputation as a company.

Eliminate Manned Tool and Equipment Rooms

When a smaller construction company utilizes a tool tracking system, they don’t have to hire as much staff for their tool room. Fully automated tool rooms and kiosks still hold employees accountable. After-hours and weekend tool check-in and check-out are handled by construction employees, rather than requiring someone to come in during overtime. Saving money on staff can be an important factor in the success of a small construction firm.

Meeting the Needs of Smaller Construction Companies for Tool Tracking and Inventory Management

Because tool tracking systems can help your company grow, and grow with your company, the benefits can be readily apparent soon after implementation. For many smaller construction companies, this significantly helps the bottom line.

ToolHound 5 provides the easy-to-use, efficient tool tracking and inventory management system you need to help control your company’s most valuable assets. ToolHound is a scalable, affordable system that optimizes the efficiency of any operation or construction job – no matter how big or small.

Cloud vs. On-Premise Hosting for Construction Inventory Management

June 29th, 2016   |   Posted by: superadmin

The software for a construction inventory management system, along with the data it collects, can be hosted in the cloud or on a company’s servers – often referred to as “on-premise” hosting. Depending on your requirements and your company, one may suit your objectives better than the other. The main factors that drive the debate between the two are cost, control and customization.

Here are some benefits and features of each, so you can determine which one will best suit your construction tool management needs.

On-Premise Construction Inventory Management

An on-premise construction inventory management system provides the following advantages:

  • Tool and asset visibility is available in all locations through the internet or integration with a corporate intranet
  • Greater control over data security
  • Greater ability to customize the system
  • The organization has more control over the implementation process

Although on-premise hosting has many benefits, initial costs are higher as you need to have a strong IT infrastructure and good hardware in place to host, maintain and update the software. Also, initial implementation takes a bit longer than with cloud-based hosting.

Cloud Construction Inventory Management

Some common benefits of a cloud-based construction inventory management system are:

  • Low initial cost and predictable costs
  • All costs can be expensed instead of capitalized
  • No additional hardware investment, such as database or web servers
  • Data security is in the hands of the vendor
  • Offers greater stability and continuous updates from the vendor
  • Typically takes less time to implement

With cloud-based tool tracking, contractors are essentially paying to access the application instead of owning it. Contractors don’t have to worry about backups or other security measures, as these are performed by the service provider. As long as there is an Internet connection and a contractor is using an Internet-enabled device, the software can be accessed from any location. This also gives project managers access to real-time data from anywhere.

Which Type is Right for Your Company?

Established construction companies may be better suited to on-premise tool inventory management software, such as those that can utilize the investment for five to seven years. These are companies that already have an established network infrastructure and multiple work sites. In addition, on-premise hosting many be appropriate for companies that need a high-degree of customization, extensive custom programming, or would like to have greater proprietary control of their data.

Emerging construction companies who want to invest in an affordable solution and want the flexibility of having “anywhere, anytime” access are more suited to cloud-based management. These are companies that do not have their own servers or who prefer to have their data managed by the vendor. Of course, large, established construction firms may also choose a cloud-based solution for the flexibility it provides.

Meeting Your Needs for On-Site or Cloud Construction Inventory Management

ToolHound 5 OnSite provides the efficient, easy-to-use tool inventory management you need to control your company’s valuable assets. ToolHound 5 Cloud allows for the same easy-to-use, effective tool inventory management without having to deal with maintaining your own database and web servers. Contact ToolHound to learn more about which system is right for your company.

7 Things Your Tool Inventory Management System Should Be Doing for You

May 18th, 2016   |   Posted by: superadmin

An antiquated tool inventory management system can cost your company a lot of time and manpower. Time-consuming, painstaking inventory management systems, such as those that are paper-based or Excel-based, simply don’t offer the level of functionality and service that automated solutions provide.

Your inventory management system should be working for you – not the other way around. It should be able to pull reports instantaneously, tell you what tools are due for maintenance or certification, and allow you to see which employees have which pieces of equipment. Here are 7 things a tool inventory management system should be doing for your business.

1. Helping avoid stalled productivity

Your business’ productivity is directly related to your employees having the right tools to get their jobs done. If tools are missing from the tool shed or in need of maintenance, it can result in wasted time and missed deadlines.

2. Improving tool utilization

Always having the right tools for a job is imperative, and your inventory management system should be helping achieve this. Trying to get by with the wrong tools can increase the chances of an accident-causing injury or the job taking much longer than usual.

3. Reducing losses

Stolen or lost tools cost your company money, either in the cost of replacing the tools or for lost productivity when the job can’t continue.

4. Improving the functionality of tools in different locations

An adaptable tool control system that can work on two different levels is a requirement for many construction companies. Your inventory management system should track items shipped to work sites on mobile tool cribs while also tracking tool usage at the job site.

5. Tracking tool usage in multiple locations

Companies in many different industries need to be able to reliably manage equipment that is located across various jobsites. Having the right tool in the right place at the right time provides exceptional savings in money and time, while contributing to better quality control.

6. Managing regular maintenance and employee certification

A good tool and equipment management system also contributes to safer working practices and reduced company liability. The ability to schedule regular maintenance and track employee certifications automatically helps to ensure safety remains a priority.

7. Simplifying tracking and billing

Companies that handle equipment rentals and service need a powerful inventory management system. Knowing when a piece of equipment is due back in and the amount that is due is important, as well as having an automated system in place for when a piece of equipment or a tool is not returned.

ToolHound offers the ideal solution for tracking and monitoring the use of your tools. Our state-of-the-art system for addressing inventory management needs in construction, mining, oil and gas, and other industries consists of a comprehensive database coupled with accurate bar code or RFID-based tool tracking. ToolHound is effective, easy to use and monitor, and will deliver overall peace of mind.