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techdirections May 2013 : Page 22

Tool and Supply Management Keeping Track of What You Have and What You Need By Chris Zirkle zirkle.6@osu.edu I N education in recent years, an increasing emphasis has been placed on accountabil-ity of all types, in part because of public pressure, but also because the use of com-puters simplifies audits and record keep-ing. Computers make it easier to keep track of data and also make it easier to point out when things go wrong. Career and technical education and technol-ogy education (CTE/TE) programs are especial-ly vulnerable because of the ways they differ from strictly academic courses: O CTE/TE involves equipment, supplies, and services, O CTE/TE is more costly than most academ-ic programs, O CTE/TE frequently involves unusual cash-flow procedures, and O CTE/TE may involve the sale of services and purchase of parts and supplies. This article addresses concerns of materi-als and tools management that are of critical concern to all CTE and TE educators. A review of this topic is of benefit to both beginning and veteran instructors. O arranging for broken equipment to be repaired. Many instructors struggle to find the necessary time to cover all of the assigned curriculum, so extra time spent on these tasks can be overwhelming. If teaching time is reduced as a result of addressing these concerns, that loss represents the great-est cost. Materials must be available when needed, and these activities should simulate business/industry and/or the postsecond-ary setting as much as possible. Tools The management of tools of all types is a key skill for CTE/TE teachers. A tool may be something as simple as a pair of scissors, or it may be a power tool such as a circular saw. In either case, procedures must be developed for the care of the items. If not, they can easily be damaged, misplaced, or stolen. Their loss can have a financial impact if they have to be replaced, or in extreme cases, such as at a cor-rectional facility, dire consequences may arise if they fall into the wrong hands. Some key tool storage principles can facilitate tool management. Frequently used tools should be located near the primary work area, to save time and to allow for quick visual inspection. Special equipment should be issued as needed, not put into general circulation. Tool panels on the walls of the classroom/ lab or within a tool cage or tool room, with painted outlines for each tool, offer a conve-nient way to ensure that tools are returned to the correct storage location. If needed, there should be tool storage cabinets to keep specialty tools safe and secure. If students have their own tool kits, these also should have a secure storage space. Students should label their tools for identification Addressing Formidable Tasks Because of the points listed above, and perhaps others, poor management practices are especially noticeable, costly, and audit-able. Accountability is not without other types of costs. In some cases, 25% of a CTE or TE teacher’s time may be consumed with non-instructional activities involving such material control and maintenance issues as: O getting supplies for the classroom and lab, O dealing with tool problems, and Chris Zirkle is an associate professor, Depart-ment of Workforce Education and Development, College of Education and Human Ecology, Ohio State University, Columbus. 22 tech directions X MAY 2013

Tool and Supply Management

Chris Zirkle


Keeping Track of What You Have and What You Need

IN education in recent years, an increasing emphasis has been placed on accountability of all types, in part because of public pressure, but also because the use of computers simplifies audits and record keeping. Computers make it easier to keep track of data and also make it easier to point out when things go wrong.

Career and technical education and technology education (CTE/TE) programs are especially vulnerable because of the ways they differ from strictly academic courses:

• CTE/TE involves equipment, supplies, and services,
• CTE/TE is more costly than most academic programs,
• CTE/TE frequently involves unusual cashflow procedures, and
• CTE/TE may involve the sale of services and purchase of parts and supplies.

This article addresses concerns of materials and tools management that are of critical concern to all CTE and TE educators. A review of this topic is of benefit to both beginning and veteran instructors.

Addressing Formidable Tasks
Because of the points listed above, and perhaps others, poor management practices are especially noticeable, costly, and auditable. Accountability is not without other types of costs. In some cases, 25% of a CTE or TE teacher’s time may be consumed with noninstructional activities involving such material control and maintenance issues as:

• getting supplies for the classroom and lab,
• dealing with tool problems, and
• arranging for broken equipment to be repaired.

Many instructors struggle to find the necessary time to cover all of the assigned curriculum, so extra time spent on these tasks can be overwhelming. If teaching time is reduced as a result of addressing these concerns, that loss represents the greatest cost. Materials must be available when needed, and these activities should simulate business/industry and/or the postsecondary setting as much as possible.

Tools
The management of tools of all types is a key skill for CTE/TE teachers. A tool may be something as simple as a pair of scissors, or it may be a power tool such as a circular saw. In either case, procedures must be developed for the care of the items. If not, they can easily be damaged, misplaced, or stolen. Their loss can have a financial impact if they have to be replaced, or in extreme cases, such as at a correctional facility, dire consequences may arise if they fall into the wrong hands.

Some key tool storage principles can facilitate tool management. Frequently used tools should be located near the primary work area, to save time and to allow for quick visual inspection. Special equipment should be issued as needed, not put into general circulation.

Tool panels on the walls of the classroom/ lab or within a tool cage or tool room, with painted outlines for each tool, offer a convenient way to ensure that tools are returned to the correct storage location. If needed, there should be tool storage cabinets to keep specialty tools safe and secure. If students have their own tool kits, these also should have a secure storage space. Students should label their tools for identification purposes, perhaps with a permanent marker or an engraving tool.

Tool Distribution Methods: A number of approaches for distributing tools exist. The first is the “honor system,” which is not necessarily a system but is based on the notion that all students are organized, responsible, and honest, and will always return any tool given to them. This is likely an unrealistic assumption.

Another method involves the exchange of an item, such as a disc with a number on it. When students need a tool, they give a disc to a tool room staffer for the tool they want to check out. If a tool turns up missing, it can be traced by the number on the disc. Slips of paper can be used in lieu of a disc, but these may not be secure, since they can easily be altered. The same is true for sign-in/ sign-out sheets.

Students should be actively involved in tool control. They should rotate work time in tool storage and checkout. They should be involved in looking for missing and broken tools at the end of the lab period. They can also help check and maintain lab-owned tool kits. In this way, they develop responsibility and knowledge of tools, and the instructor’s time burden is lessened.

CTE/TE instructors are legally responsible for tools in their labs. Tool losses are a serious concern, since tools are expensive and represent a fiscal investment of public funds. A good security system is essential to prevent theft or “borrowing” of equipment. An effective tool distribution system encourages good work habits and sets an example of experience in a real work setting.

Supplies
Accountability for instructional supplies is also important. Supplies are continually used, and keeping track of them can be a challenge for the CTE/TE instructor. Supplies include things like paper for printers, shop towels for an automotive technology program, and disinfectant wipes for a health technology program. The costs for these items can rapidly escalate if there’s no system in place to ensure their efficient use.

Supplies for CTE/TE programs at the secondary level are generally provided, although students may pay for them in part through a lab fee. Individual lab fees are very common in postsecondary programs. In either case, most supplies used on a daily basis are distributed by the instructor.

Instructional Supply Inventory:
To know “where you are” and to establish an accurate budget, a CTE/ TE instructor must maintain a reasonably accurate inventory control system. Most school administrators require that instructors do so (or they should). A good system will prevent running short of necessary supplies and on the other hand prevent instructors from “stockpiling” or having too much of certain items and not enough of others. A good inventory system is especially important when there are multiple day/evening programs, and classrooms/labs are shared.

Control of waste and pilferage of supplies is difficult where there is no control system in place. As with tools, the honor system can be problematic here, since students may appropriate supplies for use outside the program and tend to be careless with supplies even when using them in the lab if they have unfettered access to an unending supply.

In this regard, CTE/TE instructors must develop students’ skills in the proper and efficient use of certain supplies. For example, with shop towels in a graphic arts lab, students must be encouraged to take more than one “swipe” at a printing press roller when cleaning a press, before discarding the towel. Similar examples can be found in other labs.

When students are purchasing supplies as they are needed (instead of paying an up-front lab fee), issuing supply cards can be effective. Supply cards can be sold by the office or school store (in this way, a bonded person, not the CTE/TE instructor, handles the cash). The instructor punches a card or removes coupons then hands out supplies. Or, if students are involved in the supply system, a student supply room attendant can hand out supplies and keep the inventory record up to date.

For consumable supplies, a perpetual inventory system is advised. The CTE/TE instructor subtracts the amount of supplies issued from that on hand for an up-to-date inventory, then orders more when stock goes below a certain point.

Customer service supply: CTE programs have a long history of providing “customer service” programs. These programs take in work assignments from personnel and departments within the school or school district and perhaps the local community. Examples would include an automotive technology program that provides basic automotive maintenance to school district employees.

For these activities, a separate school fund is established. It is generally a “rotary,” or rotating, fund that is self-supporting. As supplies are used, funds taken in for customer service activities are used to replenish them. These supplies should be kept separate from the instructional supply inventory, although this can be difficult to document.

Other supply issues: While ordering supplies for a classroom/ lab is generally the responsibility of the CTE/TE instructor, purchasing, paying for, and collecting money for these items should not be. CTE/TE instructors should let bonded school personnel handle any cash involved in the purchase of supplies. CTE/TE instructors should not keep cash on the premises, in file cabinets or desk drawers. CTE/TE instructors are also discouraged from using unaudited cash accounts. Violating any of these practices can lead to unnecessary work, unwelcome scrutiny, and potential negative incidents.

Having systems of accountability in place for all aspects of classroom and lab management is essential. If systems are not in place, the CTE/TE instructor opens him- or herself to possible charges of mismanagement or negligence. Time spent devising these systems is time well spent.

Read the full article at http://www.omagdigital.com/article/Tool+and+Supply+Management/1385021/156877/article.html.

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