Your construction team is up against a firm deadline, and you’ve got several full days of work in store to stay on track. When your team arrives at the construction site in the morning ready to get started, you discover that several of your most valuable, essential pieces of equipment have been stolen. When this happens, it not only costs you money, but it can also put you behind schedule for several days while you replace the equipment.
While theft is a serious problem from all businesses, it can be particularly devastating to a construction company. Resources left at job sites typically range from heavy machinery, expensive vehicles, and materials that were directly shipped to the site. Theft poses a range of risks to a construction business, but profitability is the most severe. Replacing and re-ordering stolen equipment and product takes more investments of time, effort and money than otherwise intended.
Further, the construction business is often pushed by tight deadlines and performance expectations. Operational setbacks can snowball into financial consequences, client disapproval, and hinder employee morale. Despite the high risks of theft in the construction industry, equipment is often left at the job site overnight when there is no or little security — making it very easy for someone to slip in and walk away with a company’s essential assets. How can construction businesses prevent theft?
Why Theft Occurs
The lack of security at the construction site is the biggest reason why it’s so easy for someone to steal tools and other equipment. Unlike other industries, your work site isn’t a finished, secure building. While you can light up the area and install temporary security cameras, the bottom line is that there are many ways of entering and exiting a construction site, and it’s impossible to monitor them all.
While external theft is an issue, internal theft also occurs. An employee may walk away with some of your most valuable tools. It can be hard to watch everyone as they leave, and you shouldn’t have to. You should be able to trust your employees. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Even if someone doesn’t walk away with your tools as they’re leaving, they might put equipment near the edge of the work site or even hide it and return for it later.
Once a piece of equipment has been stolen, you have to replace it. Some equipment may not be used that often and may not affect your productivity, but other tools may have to be replaced right away. Until they are, you may not be able to complete certain tasks, and that can make you miss deadlines. This, in turn, can tarnish your reputation and upset your clients. Because of this, you might miss out on another project from that client or from someone that client knows. Overall, one stolen piece of equipment can cost you much more than the price of simply replacing it.
What Can You Do?
What can you do to prevent or minimize theft from your construction site? Fortunately, there are a number of different things. First of all, you can make sure the site is lit up at night. Installing pole lights around the area will help deter theft, plus it will help your crew see what’s going on early in the morning and later in the evening. You can also place security cameras around the site, both pointing inward and outward. Lighting up the area will help these cameras record better images for you to use in case you do see someone stealing something.
If you have the budget for it, you can also hire overnight security guards. This may not always be possible, but many clients will be more than happy to cover the costs of security if you build it into the overall project budget. It may be harder to justify the cost on smaller projects, however.
Keeping a close eye on your inventory begins by physically documenting your resource inventory. Record the serial numbers and any other identifying information about individual pieces of equipment, and make sure to update listings when your purchase and sell items. Performing an inventory count of your equipment on a regular basis may not prevent theft, but will help you identify stolen equipment quickly and narrow down the time in which it went missing.
There are a number of new pieces of anti-theft technology you can also make use of. These devices can be placed inside heavy machinery, or attached to expensive tools and will allow you to track the equipment if it’s lost. These devices will help you recover stolen property, although they may not work for every tool you own.
Reduced Theft Improves Productivity and Profits
By cutting down on theft, you’ll be able to better ensure that your crew is productive every day. They won’t have to worry about not having the right equipment on hand, and you won’t have to deal with finding room in the budget to replace stolen equipment. Your overall profitability and reputation will also improve since you won’t miss deadlines due to lost equipment. While the cost of anti-theft devices, cameras, lights, and security guards may look daunting, the cost of theft is much higher.