This month Brady focuses on asset tracking and answers the following question… Within our company we have a number of laptops available for ‘pool’ use in our office as well as four different sets of tools for maintenance/access purposes across the factory floor. The problem is we just don’t know where everything is at any one given time and we often end up with the situation of no laptop available when someone needs to go on a sales call or two jack hammers at one side of the floor, 10 minutes away from where one is needed. Any suggestions?

Having several thousand pounds worth of equipment lying around in non-specific locations is obviously not an ideal situation. Laptops and tools are not only valuable but highly transportable and replacement costly. In addition when a colleague needs a piece of maintenance equipment for example and spends hours hunting it down there’s a cost in time as well.

With laptops, mobiles and any other electronic equipment Brady suggests barcoding them so that at any given time you know exactly where and to whom any item has been allocated. It needn’t be a complex process by choosing a compatible software and printer package it’s all practically done for you and quickly and efficiently you eliminate any vulnerability to untraceable loss. Who can afford to lose a £500 laptop?

As far as tools are concerned, these require a different approach and a case study springs to mind. Although it is outside the industrial arena, Brady believes it has a lot of useful and practical advice to draw on.

The Spruce Pine Fire Department is one of eight volunteer fire houses covering the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. It has a team of around 50 volunteer fire fighters, many of whom clock out of their regular jobs to respond to a call. The house operates on a small budget and it’s important to get the team back to their jobs and families as quickly as possible. However there was a big snag, as the SPFD had identical equipment to the other seven fire stations it was difficult to identify specific kit after a callout, and on occasions, the SPFD would return to base with less equipment than it had started with. With the possibility of losing $400 regulation axes and $1,000 air packs an identification solution that ensured all their equipment would return to the station, quickly and efficiently was needed.

Head of the SPFD, Fire Chief David Hughes recounts: “We had tried everything, but nothing ever stayed on. We’d think we’d have it marked, and then we’d go out on a call and come back and have to re-identify everything. With Brady, we’ve finally found something that works… some of our labels see 2,000 degree heat on the back of an air pack. Despite all that abuse 99 per cent of the time the labels are still stuck on the equipment which means it comes back to the station.”

The SPFD marked all its kit with blue vinyl marked ‘SPFD’. Blue labels were applied on equipment throughout the facility including axes, halogen bars, chain saws, petrol cans, first aid kits and more. Some pieces of equipment like air packs were also allocated unique ID numbers to monitor when scheduled for maintenance or refilling.

“We label everything” says Hughes, “And the reason is simple… we’d rather replace a label than replace a $1,000 air bottle. Those labels help us make sure every piece of equipment comes back to us. With that kind of cost justification, it’s a no-brainer.”

One Brady printer was purchased for the eight fire houses to share, with each house responsible for buying its own vinyl tape. “We were really sceptical at first. We thought we’d be changing a lot of labels. A lot of the guys thought it’d be a waste of time. But we’re four years into the project and we’re still using the same original vinyl tape today that we put on four years ago. They’re still stuck and they’re not fading.”

Okay, so we might not all spend our days waiting for the emergency call to action but it does prove the point about just how much time and aggravation can potentially be saved by efficient labelling.

If you have any queries, you can email