No longer will you have to wonder who took a particular item or where your company’s valuable assets are located. A check-in/check-out solution allows you to record the time items were borrowed, returned and who took them. Tool tracking, file management, library and rental applications can all take advantage of the process flow and improved accountability inherent in a check-in/check-out solution. Better manage items that have revolving ownership or possession by setting up custodians, locations and associating transactions with specific projects.
Utilizing the right combination of scanning technology and tracking software, implementing a check-in/check-out system is easy and can even be an unattended process. Scan the user’s ID, scan the items and you are checked out.
What are the Key Benefits of a Check-In/Check-Out System?
A check-in/check-out system provides the cost saving benefits of:
- Accuracy – Maintain a complete record of where every asset is and who is responsible for it.
- Simplicity – Quickly process each transaction will a couple scans.
- Efficiency – Reduce the time required to locate items.
- Accountability – Hold each user responsible for all the items they use.
What is Check-In/Check-Out?
A check-in/check-out system is a specific type of asset tracking solution that is specifically focused on circulatory assets like tools, file folders and rental or library items. In these cases you are mainly concerned with who currently has the item and when it is due back. Any application that has constantly changing ownership of assets can benefit from the visibility provided by a check-in/check-out solution.
As is the case with all asset tracking systems, each item will be uniquely labeled with a barcode label. If you have five instances of the same item each will have their own barcode ID to track each individually. Each asset will have a host of features you will track throughout its life to ensure that every user returns the correct asset and in the same condition it was issued. Once every item is labeled properly we can start tracking check-in/check-out transactions.
In a check-in/check-out system you are tracking when an asset leaves a designated storage area and who is taking the item. Each item can have a check-out time period similar to a library book and even have fines associated with returning the item late. Since you have a database of users and assets you will always know who currently has an item and the previous users for a trail of accountability. This kind of system helps prevent misuse of items as you will always know who last used an item. With a robust check-in/check-out system in place you will never be caught searching for items as someone will always have been assigned responsibility for every asset.
Using barcodes and scanners is a very easy way to make a check-in/check-out system quick and efficient. With a simple scan of the user ID and the assets you have checked out items. When the items are returned you do the exact same process. The beauty of this kind of implementation is that the whole process can be unattended. Each user can scan the assets they use themselves at a PC station with a basic scanner. With the use of a mobile computer, the check-in/check-out process can support multiple locations and job site tracking.
Beyond the everyday tracking, most check-in/check-out systems also provide detailed reporting on asset usage. Since you have a record of every transaction you can easily report on what items are used most or least to make changes to your asset collection. Likewise, you can report on the age of assets to retire old products if needed or call up maintenance schedules. Regardless of what you are tracking, if you have cycling ownership of assets a well designed check-in/check-out system will keep your assets up to date and reduce lost or stolen items.
What Should You Address When Making a Check-In/Check-Out System?
When putting together an effective and suitable check-in/check-out system there are a few key questions to answer:
- How many assets will you be tracking? How many users do you have?
- Will items have a maximum check-out time frame?
- Do you need to asses late fees? Fines for damaged or lost items?
- Are the items already uniquely labeled? Do you need a barcode printer?
- Will you need the check-out process to be mobile or fixed?
- Do you need your system to run unattended?
- What type of reporting will you need from the system?
What are the Components of a Check-In/Check-Out System?
A check-in/check-out system consists of a combination of several components:
- Check-In/Check-Out Software – Software is the backbone of any system and will determine what features and options are available. The main concerns when deciding on one are how detailed of reporting is available and whether it supports batch or real-time updates.
- Barcode Scanner – For fixed or unattended applications a basic barcode scanner is an easy way to input user and item information into your tracking software.
- Mobile Computer – If your assets are located in multiple locations or you need tracking on-site, a mobile computer can run your tracking application and conduct the complete check-in/check-out process.
- Barcode Printer – All items in your pool need a unique identifier on them to be properly tracked. Barcodes are the easiest and most cost effective option to provide each item an ID.