ToolWatch is the creation of Don Kafka, a former electrical contractor who never knew where his tools were. Seeing the need for a program to provide answers, he began with a portable scanning pen to scan bar codes affixed to tools. From this simple beginning, numerous software packages emerged. Here are a few:

Using the ToolWatch Pocket PC, employees sign for tool transfers at the jobsite instead of at the warehouse.
Using the ToolWatch Pocket PC, employees sign for tool transfers at the jobsite instead of at the warehouse.

The Core Tracking Module operates through numbers or bar codes on tools. It uses data collection devices like laser scanners to scan tools in the warehouse, from a tool crib, or on a jobsite. The information is integrated into a software program that tracks tools from the warehouse to the assigned jobsite and marks their return.

The Consumable Module accounts for items like drill bits, blades, or grinding discs. Monitoring this inventory shows when supplies are used and triggers the need to order.

The Service Tracking Module keeps track of the life of a tool: its service history, when it was last calibrated or tested, and when it is due for replacement.

The Tools and Equipment Billing Module monitors rental equipment by keeping track of location, cost, and the billing amount. It monitors a rental package by the week, the month, or for a lump sum.

Denise Shelton, ToolWatch, demonstrates the database's capabilities to Anne Fitzpatrick, Emerald Construction, Richmond, Va., during a jump-start session.
Denise Shelton, ToolWatch, demonstrates the database's capabilities to Anne Fitzpatrick, Emerald Construction, Richmond, Va., during a jump-start session.

The Purchasing Module builds connections between the company and the manufacturer. With tool information present and linked to a distributor, the purchase is easily made.

These programs individually or combined give greater control of assets that directly affect the bottom line. “Companies quickly find when they bill tools to the job that workers are more likely to get the tools back,” says Kafka. “With jobs charged for tools or equipment and profit sharing involved, it changes the culture of the company. Everyone gets on the same side. People in the field jump up and say you can't charge my job. I returned it.”

ToolWatch jump-starts companies by first educating a team to understand your business operation and then sending the team to your site. They install software, number tools, and train people so that live transactions happen before the team leaves. Training includes warehouse people working with stock, safety people doing equipment calibration or meeting OSHA requirements, administrators managing systems, accounting people receiving data and billing information, and people in purchasing. They do it, whether you have one or several thousand employees—200 or 2000 tools. “Our constant goal is tool-tracking advancement and customer mastery of ToolWatch technology, tools, and equipment,” Kafka says. To find out more, go to www.toolwatch.com.