Construction Today reviews modern tool tracking app ShareMyToolbox
Construction Today originally published article in July 2018.
Losing or misplacing pricey tools is a problem that most contractors have experienced. It’s especially a problem for smaller to mid-sized contractors for whom every dollar is critical. Replacing expensive tools grossly impacts the effectiveness of operations — and the bottom line.
“It’s a tremendous waste of both time and money to have to rebuy the same tools over and over again when they are lost,” says Chris Wirtz, co-founder of ShareMyToolbox. “Nobody should have to do that.”
That’s why Wirtz and his partner, Chuck Elyea, founded ShareMyToolbox, a new and user-friendly tool tracking solution designed for the construction industry. “Ours is a different approach to a very old problem,” Wirtz says.
Although tool trackers have been rolled out by highly reputable toolmakers like Bosch, Milwaukee and DeWalt, the solution developed by ShareMyToolbox is different. Most tool trackers on the market today use GPS and Bluetooth-based technology for tracking.
Their beacon-based technology presents issues with range and signal reliability. Plus, beacons can be difficult to attach to each item and easily removed by a thief.
ShareMyToolbox does not use hardware-based solutions that rely solely on beacons, GPS and Bluetooth technology. Instead, the company created a responsibility-based tool that utilizes modern app technology incorporated with accountability. It tells the user who has the tool at all times.
How it Works
ShareMyToolbox is a mobile field tracking and tool management software solution for small tools based on peer-to-peer sharing.
Once the app is installed, the user is responsible for compiling an inventory list that includes all tools and equipment that need to be tracked. In addition, ShareMyToolbox recommends making notes on how long the item has been owned to better anticipate needed maintenance or replacement.
The user then catalogs tools and makes connections to other users to assign tools. Users can share tools, transferring both the tool and responsibility for the tool from user-to-user. This removes a need for an office or warehouse employee managing the transfer. In addition, the app includes an optional barcode tool-tracking function.
“Our app turns your phone into a bar code scanner,” Wirtz says. ”It will tell you if a tool has been calibrated, if it passed a safety check and if it’s still under warranty. All that information is also available to people in the field that are working with the tool.”
The app is available for both iOS and Android phones and tablets. In addition, ShareMyToolbox provides a cloud database that gives users a connection to a PC, allowing them to centralize all information collected from the app into the cloud.
“That cloud database is key when you’re running a company,” Wirtz says. ShareMyToolbox charges a per-person monthly fee for the service ($10 per user, per month).
“But there are tons of small companies that can’t afford to buy software,” Wirtz adds. “So we provide a free version of the app for small contractors. But we limit it so that you can only connect to four additional people.”
But actually, anyone can download the app for free. Wirtz says that the company’s free app version is often used by mechanics to track their personal tools, and some people have even used to it track their books, guns and cooking supplies. “Some people use it just to catalog their stuff,” Wirtz says. “And that’s OK. We’ve had superintendents or project managers use it for personal reasons, and then when their company needed a tool tracking system they recommended us. It works out.”
A mobile barcode tool-tracking system can reduce the annual cost of buying and managing those tools. According to an industry survey by CFMA (Construction Financial Management Association), most companies will see a 20 percent drop in tool expenses after implementing a modern tool tracking system.
Considering an average mid-sized contracting company spends roughly $100,000 on tools, that’s a lot of dough. The survey also discovered that 50 percent of contractors have given up on tracking small tools and equipment. Instead of a tool-tracking system, many contractors expense tools rather than including them in asset capitalization.
But when tools aren’t treated as fixed assets, they end up being treated like consumables. Expensing tools repeatedly after they go missing from a jobsite can have a significant impact on profit margins. “Small tools are different from consumables like wire or concrete,” Wirtz says. “Their life lives on past one job and they have multiple years of value. So it’s important to keep track of them.”
A lot companies have policies to bill for a tool for a jobsite, sometimes passing the cost on to the client. “Many contractors have tried to put in place accounting policies to fix field activities,” Wirtz says. “But an accounting policy shouldn’t be used in place of good field management.”
ShareMyToolbox’s management software eliminates the need for an accounting-based tool policy – which is usually a task that both employees and company owners and managers dislike, Wirtz says.
In a nutshell, the software empowers employees and employers to make better use of tools. They can search for what they need before buying new and it enables the company to track all of its tools at all times.
ShareMyToolbox takes pride in its fast, modern, simple and user-friendly software. It quotes Albert Einstein on its website: “Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple.”
To learn more about ShareMyToolbox please visit us at Tool Inventory Tracking.
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“Ours is a different approach to a very old problem”Chris Wirtz, Co-Founder ShareMyToolbox