5 things every equipment manager should do

Being an equipment manager is not for everybody. Sure, aunts and uncles might think you just “take care of your company’s equipment”, but in reality, the job comes with a shopping list of responsibilities. Some of these you can share, some you have to handle mostly by yourself. Kudos, equipment managers of the world!

For the uninitiated, we made a little list. From purchasing and maintaining to the eventual liquidation of an organisation’s assets, here are the 5 things every equipment manager should do.

  1. Purchasing, renting, maintaining, repairing and cleaning equipment 
    Equipment managers are the mother or father figures who make sure the equipment room holds all the equipment users need to do their work. An important part of this is budgeting and making business cases for new purchases. But not every item needs to be bought. If a certain project requires a very specific item, the equipment manager arranges the rental. Should multiple requests come in for that item you don’t own yet, perhaps there is a business case to be made for purchasing it.

    Equipment managers also make sure equipment lasts as long as possible by properly maintaining, repairing and cleaning it. This is called asset lifecycle management. If equipment breaks or becomes obsolete, it’s their job to replace it. Needless to say, great equipment managers plan for replacements in time.

  2. Inventorizing, tracking and auditing the equipment
    Equipment managers need to document in great detail which assets they hold. This is vital for accounting, but also to better understand how the equipment is used and if this is the most cost-efficient way.

    Keeping inventory goes hand in hand with tracking down missing equipment and keeping people accountable for the equipment they use. The more detailed your inventory, the easier it is to track and the less time is wasted if something does go missing. For example, it’s smart to include chargers and cables in your inventory list, and to document assets down to the serial number rather than just the model. This pays dividends when it’s time for your annual equipment audit.

  3. Keeping the equipment room organized so everything can be found
    What you store is important, but how you store it matters too. A lot, in fact. Without a clean and well-organized equipment room, equipment will not find its way back to its rightful place, and vital pieces will go missing. How are you, the users and potential other equipment managers going to find the right asset then?

    Say no to lost equipment, and invest time in setting up a well-functioning equipment room. That entails to-dos like deciding on an open or closed equipment room, grouping items together by category or by kit, defining different areas for accessing and for assembling equipment, and deciding which gear belongs together in a kit. Marking shelves and racks the right way is the final step every equipment manager has to take.

  4. Implementing a foolproof system for equipment booking and checkout
    What good is a well-structured equipment room filled with state-of-the-art gear if there’s no proper system to book and pick it up? Here is where workflow starts to matter, as every stakeholder benefits from a smooth process. Ideally, users want to browse a database of equipment, find what they need, check the item’s availability, make the reservation, and then come get it. Equipment managers should aim to spend as little time and manual work as possible on preparing the booked gear. 

    It goes without saying that equipment kits should be complete when picked up. Arriving at the set with components missing is likely the most annoying thing to happen to a creative. It’s even more annoying than that other big no-no: the dreaded double booking.

  5. Get insights and learn where to improve
    This is perhaps the most surprising task on an equipment manager’s to-do list. But don’t skip it! You see, a lot happens inside and outside of the equipment room, often with expensive gear, impatient content creators, and/or complex workflows. So equipment management lends itself well to continuous evaluation and process improvement, closely related to the above tasks. What do you currently have in store? What is popular, and what is not? Which items can be moved to a storage shelf in the back, and which should move to the front? Which assets are often requested together, and could become a kit? Planning future purchases also gets easier if you ask the right questions. Based on current usage, how long will these camera lenses last and when should you buy new ones? Equipment managers can use this data to make business cases in time.

    Highlight this task if your inventory is growing. A scaled-up equipment room almost by definition serves scaled-up needs, like expensive video shoots or big volumes of users. With this comes the need for better tools for insights and oversight. CHEQROOM offers a complete overview of all your gear. Check it out here.
Extra tip!
Sometimes it helps to be a gearhead. Just ask Ronnie den Heijer, equipment manager and camera operator at MediaMonks. Users don’t always know what they need, so an equipment manager can play an advisory role.
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