By Robert Holmes, WinWare, Inc.
Tool tracking and tool management has forever been a challenge for many operations. Over the years, responsibility for tracking and managing tools has spanned the responsibilities of many people within an organization. Sometimes it is the responsibility of the tool crib manager; other times it's the plant manager, the purchaser, the operations manager, or the department supervisor. Why do you think so many people, with completely unique titles, end up with this responsibility?
One thing is for certain when it comes to tool tracking — it can be difficult. When certain things prove difficult for your operation, you typically put your best people on the job. Because most of the time there is not a specific title of "director of tool tracking," companies find good employees that somehow have a connection to the tools and ask them for help. Thus, you would sometimes get the purchasing person to attempt to manage the tools, and other times it might be the tool crib manager or the plant manager, etc. The problem with this approach is this: Giving that person the responsibility of something that is a known challenge and asking him to have an impact on it in his or her spare time just isn't realistic. In most operations, to manage tool tracking you must first manage information. In order to manage information, you must have a means to capture data at the time of each transaction.