Tool and Material Management Systems

Tools and Material Management Systems


Iris D. Tommelein
University of California
Engineering and Project Management Program
Civil and Environmental Engineering Department
215-A McLaughlin Hall #1712
Berkeley, CA 94720-1712, USA
Tel: (510) 649-9253
Fax: (510) 643-8919




Poor tool and material management hampers daily operations and can damage your business. The cost of owning and providing tools may be a small percentage of the cost of doing construction work, but it can significantly impact labor productivity and the quality of work performed.

Poor practices in tool and material management can be indicative of other systemic wastes hidden in your company’s day-to-day work, such as lack of planning, poor scheduling, poor housekeeping, unsafe work, and problems with quality. Tool and material management includes identifying the needed tools and materials, acquiring them, and issuing them to the fabrication shop, job site or service truck for use or installation. It also includes returning or disposing of excess materials and managing the return, maintenance, repair and replacement of tools.

This guide provides practical considerations, tactics and processes that apply specifically to managing tools, equipment and off-the-shelf, consumable materials. It provides an easy-to-reference list of considerations, tactics, and processes for implementation and ongoing improvement. Additionally, the study details the four step process (Plan, Do, Check, Act) as a way to foster learning and create a culture of continuous improvement.