Right tools for the job: Asset or Liability?
The construction industry faces considerable financial pressures, and it’s a fine balance for businesses to reduce costs and increase efficiency at the same time. For procurement teams, buying lower priced tools is an easy way to reduce direct costs, but the impact this may have on productivity can make these types of savings a false economy in the long-term. Here is how.
While this approach minimises the initial cash outlay, purchasing cheaper alternatives can lead to various indirect costs through additional maintenance and repairs. Cheaper tools may also be larger, heavier and difficult to lift - requiring workers to take more breaks to recover and thus minimising productivity. They are likely to have reduced functionality too, which could lead to overheating (meaning longer cool down times).
"Having the right tools for the right job, meaning the right application, is not as obvious as it seems. It is the basis for productivity on a construction site as it has a significant impact on various factors and outcomes. Too often productive tools are replaced with cheaper options due to pressure on project costs. However, those often that lack performance and durability. When looking at the total cost of ownership it is often realized that in the long run, the initial cheaper version may not be the more economical one after all as it can lead to productivity losses and project delays."
– says Thierry Theus, Services Manager, Hilti Singapore.
In addition, procurement teams may not understand the practical implications of supplying workers with alternative equipment. Buying corded tools instead of cordless, for example, could prove a bad decision if workers don't have access to a power source on a particular jobsite. An electricity supply would then need to be provided from elsewhere, resulting in time wasted and perhaps added costs.
Investing in quality tools can not only help a business improve productivity, but also reduce overall costs. Key factors to consider when making a case for more advanced tools:
Reliability is a significant factor in terms of both productivity and cost. Higher quality tools break down less and help ensure that downtime is kept to a minimum.
Reliability, however, is not just about product quality - but providing workers with the right tools they need for the job.
Workers often have to make do with tools that just aren't appropriate for the application. Not only does this make the task more difficult, but also adds extra strain to equipment that is not specifically designed for that job. This may require increased maintenance costs, which could be avoided by having a higher quality tool park.
As well as costing money through repairs, maintenance also causes increased downtime and reduced jobsite productivity, which is often not accounted for in project timelines. This can create overall delays in project delivery, which can then lead to financial losses, including fines.
According to Singapore's Workplace Safety and Health Act (WSH), businesses have to take the required steps to ensure a safe working environment for their employees, with tools being a significant part of this in the construction industry.
Optimised tools operate to the highest safety standards and feature a variety of features to help protect workers. More sophisticated tools are able to catch excess dust, reduce vibration, protect from electric shocks and help prevent workers from tripping over cords. This can provide a variety of benefits - particularly when working overhead - including helping workers to limit their vibration exposure.
Efficiency is a significant factor that is not reflected in the upfront cost of a tool. As noted above, tools that are designed for a particular task have added safety features to enable prolonged safe use.
This means that an optimised tool can be used for longer periods than a cheaper alternative. By ensuring workers are equipped with the appropriate tools for the job, they are able to be more productive, resulting in less downtime and fewer delays.
It also increases efficiency within your toolpark, as you are unlikely to require as many duplicate items to cover tools that are out of action due to repairs - meaning you need less storage space and maintenance provisions.
A more efficient toolpark reduces overall costs, with significant savings made on maintenance, administration, hiring replacement tools and productivity losses (from tools that quickly lose efficiency or are outpaced by modern technology).
It pays back to have higher quality tools in your toolpark, with optimised equipment increasing reliability, safety and efficiency - while also reducing the overall costs for your business.
Learn more how you can design a tool park that is customized for your business and increase productivity on your jobsites.
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