The average service technician van probably has well over $10,000 in tools. Heading to a specialty job and you may even have close to $20,000 in equipment sitting in the van. Between $500 multimeters and $750 manifolds, the value of equipment in a single van is tremendous.
Thankfully, technology is keeping up, and affordable tool trackers are now available that can make it possible to track down your tools if they happen to go missing.
Most of these depend on Bluetooth connections, which means they only work when in range of someone else with the same app on their phone, but the range is long enough that they can usually be tracked to inside the building you were last working, or even be picked up by someone else who happens to have that same app on their device.
Lets take a closer look at some of the most popular options out there – three Bluetooth trackers and one tracker that can locate your gear almost anywhere in the world.
Tile was one of the first on the tracker scene, launching back in 2015. Their small tags can be attached to your equipment, and tracked through the Tile app. The main advantage of Tile is the number of people who have the app installed. All these people essentially become part of your tracking network.
If a tool “walks away”, the Tile tag will ping every single Tile app it encounters, and that phone will then send the location of the ping to the Tile servers. In other words – not only will your own Tile app allow you to locate your tag when it is in the vicinity, but you'll benefit from tens of thousands of other people as well, greatly increasing the chance that you'll be reunited with your tool.
The tags come in a variety of sizes – from traiditional keychain styles to more industrial versions that can be attached directly to your equipment.
Tile tags start at $24.99 and are available directly from Tile.
DeWALT Tool Connect Tag
DeWALT understands the value of their own tools and not only do they offer add-on connected tool trackers, similar to Tile, but they also have an entire lineup of connected tools and attachments to add connectivity to existing tools.
The DeWALT Tool Connect Tag (seen above) can be glued, riveted or screwed directly to equipment. The tag communicates with the DeWALT connected app, which also functions as a tool inventory manager. Like Tile, the “last seen” feature allows you to locate the last place the tool was seen, but it only connects to your own app.
The DeWALT Tools Connect Tag is IP68 waterproof and has a battery designed to last up to 3 years. You'll find the entire lineup of these connected tools over at the DeWALT site where they start at $99.99 for a 4-pack.
Milwaukee TICK tool and equipment tracker
Another popular tool and equipment tracker is the Milwaukee TICK. Like the DeWALT, this tool can be glued, riveted or screwed onto equipment, and is tracked through the Milwaukee ONE-KEY inventory application. Tools can be pinged to locate up to 100ft away, and the ONE-KEY app keeps track of locations, like the other trackers in this article.
At just $24.97, the TICK tracker is one of the cheapest dedicated tool options out there, and are sold at a variety of retailers. To find your local retailer, visit the Milwaukee TICK page.
Tracki GPS enabled tracker
All of the previous trackers are designed to rely on Bluetooth. This makes them very small, and ensures their batteries will last for years. But what if the equipment you are tracking is very expensive, and may never be found again if it is out of range of Bluetooth enabled devices? Then you will need to look into GPS/cellular enabled trackers like the Tracki seen above. These trackers have integrated GPS and connect to cellular networks to report their location.
Downsides are their larger size, shorter battery life and required monthly fees for the cellular connection, upsides are that you can track the exact location, and never have to worry about hoping it is in range of a Bluetooth device running the app needed. The size means these trackers are primarily designed to be installed inside a tool bag, larger piece of equipment like a vacuum pump or even inside your work van.
The devices themselves are quite cheap, around $29, and they come with a built in international SIM card. Subscriptions start at $10/month, and increase depending on how often you want to track the location. You'll find more information on the Tracki GPS tracker on their site, along with links to their Amazon store.