This blog post is intended for anyone who is in charge of loaning their organization's equipment for various purposes. Whether at an educational institution, a business, a municipal department of youth services, or any other organization, this blog post discusses the best ways to improve the efficiency of your equipment loan management.
Why is it important to keep track of equipment loans?
Organizations rarely hand over their valuable property to anyone without proper follow-up. Therefore, it is important to keep track of what equipment has been loaned out to ensure it is fully retrieved, and that this happens at the right time.
Accurate tracking of equipment loans offers several clear benefits:
- Reduced loss
- Saved working time
- Prevention of overlapping reservations
- Improvement of the equipment utilization rate
Reduction of loss is the clearest benefit offered by equipment loan tracking. When you know which equipment you have loaned out and to whom, as well as when the equipment should be returned, you can reduce the amount of equipment that is lost while on loan.
With a system that can be used to manage loans and reservations, you can also reduce the amount of work related to equipment loans. When all the information can be accessed within a single system, you spend less time on searching for the information. In addition, you can process reservations and handovers more quickly, as the recording of information can be automated in part.
You can also often face a situation where the same piece of equipment is requested by more than one user at the same time. When you provide the option to reserve equipment in advance, you avoid double-bookings and the resulting additional work.
Any equipment intended for loaning out was purchased to be used. Equipment that sits in storage collecting dust is not worth the purchase price. Therefore, efficient loan management also allows you to create more suitable conditions for improving the equipment utilization rate.
Open exchange of information is key to efficient loan management
Open exchange of information is a fundamental requirement for the management of equipment loans and reservations. Access to information regarding the available equipment provides the users an option to plan equipment loans and reservations in the first place.
When the users know what equipment is available for reservation, the equipment utilization rate can be increased. Without access to such information, users do not know about available equipment and, as a result, your expensive equipment is used far too little.
Open exchange of information should not be limited to information concerning the equipment available for reservation. The responsible persons should also be able to monitor the reservation situation and review information pertaining to past, current, and future reservations.
Without easily accessible information on reservations, investigating problems can take up too much working time. The responsible persons must be able to find out quickly what equipment is reserved by which user and whether reserved equipment has been returned in full at the end of the loan period.
Thus, transparency of the reservation information allows you to reduce loss and decrease the amount of working time spent on investigating issues.
Create a clear template for reservations and let your users know about it
In addition to easily accessible information, your users should have the option to reserve the equipment available for loan. If your organization has designated a person to handle equipment loans, reservations can of course be made by contacting said person by email, for example.
However, the option to make reservations at the place where the equipment information is provided would be a better solution. This would mean that your users did not have to submit information through various different channels. In the best-case scenario, they would know immediately whether the equipment they wanted to loan was available at the desired time.
Most importantly, your users would know:
- What equipment can be reserved
- When the equipment is available
- How to make reservations
- How the reserved equipment is obtained for use
- How the reserved equipment is returned
This means that the template for reserving equipment must be communicated clearly to the people who make equipment reservations.
Implement an equipment reservation system
Traditional pen and paper solutions or Excel spreadsheets are often used to try to keep track of equipment loans. Unfortunately, such systems tend to cause more issues than they solve in reservation management.
Using Excel or paper-based solutions consumes working time, and the recorded information is hard to share or keep up to date. Investigating problems becomes difficult, as the relevant information must be dug out from notebooks (which are always misplaced) or random Excel files (that no one has remembered to update).
Reservations function most efficiently when we fully eliminate the need to rely on human memory. In an optimal situation, the responsible persons and the users making reservations are reminded of overdue reservations, thus making it possible to address any issues quickly.
The best way to improve the efficiency of the management of equipment loans and reservations is to implement an electronic equipment management system. Advanced equipment management systems include powerful features for managing equipment reservations and loans.
Budgets tend to be strict and have little room for unnecessary equipment procurement. Thus, an organization should keep a close watch on the equipment they loan out to avoid unnecessary loss due to inefficient loan management.
Management of equipment reservations and loans can also be quite time consuming at worst. Investigation of possible problems can be difficult if you have to search through various notebooks and Excel files for the relevant information.
Efficient management of loans and reservations can thus provide significant cost-savings. In order to efficiently manage loans in your organization, we advise you to implement the following best practices:
- Ensure open exchange of information regarding the equipment available for reservations with the users making reservations as well as on the equipment reservations with those responsible for equipment management.
- Create a clear template for reservations and let your users know about it
- Implement an equipment reservation system
The Finnish Trail Equipment Management service is used by various educational institutes, public sector operators, and businesses to manage equipment reservations in particular. If you would like to know more about using the service, you can book a free demonstration