This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of gasworld. It is reprinted with permission.
Thanks for taking 10 minutes out with gasworld. What have we interrupted in your schedule today?
I’m travelling back to my home in Lincoln, Nebraska. I spent the past few days in Las Vegas attending Medtrade, a trade show focused on the home medical equipment market and medical gases.
You know, it’s amazing how many companies don’t do a good job of tracking their equipment – especially their medical oxygen cylinders. Knowing the regulations and the risks of noncompliance, you’d think they would be more prepared. In many cases, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) could shut down their business for a failed lot recall or undocumented device inspection, yet many continue to take that risk.
Perhaps you could tell us a little about TrackAbout and its role in the gases industry?
TrackAbout has been around for over 15 years. One of our founders, Jim Glessner, worked for Pittsburgh-based Butler Gas Products back in the day. He witnessed how much time was wasted arguing with customers over cylinder balances, correcting data entry and billing mistakes and searching for lost cylinders. He realized that gas distributors could gain significant benefits if only they could manage their business with more efficiency.
TrackAbout was designed specifically for gas distributors by people who understood the nuances of the business. I think that’s what makes us so good at correcting the daily problems they experience, like duplicate serial numbers and lost paperwork, confusing delivered and returned cylinders. I’m so proud to say TrackAbout is considered the cylinder and asset tracking software thought leader. It’s being used by gas distributors in 15 countries and has been translated into 12 languages.
What developments is TrackAbout bringing to the market in 2015?
We are most excited about our plans to enhance our smartphone asset tracking app to include all current cylinder tracking modules. The next to be included are:
- Maintenance, which involves the recording, tracking and reporting of cylinder maintenance, inspection and testing actions, identifies cylinders with maintenance due, and generates maintenance reports for each asset
- Dynamic Forms, which is used to replace paper forms or other systems with electronic data collection
- Proof of Delivery, which allows workers to record deliveries to customers without the need for a paper delivery ticket
- Truck Load and Manifest, module which tracks truck inventories during loading and unloading.
What direction do you see asset management heading in in the future?
We see the supply chain achieving greater efficiency as more suppliers connect more easily with customers and business partners. We’re already doing this at TrackAbout.
Our Follow-On Tracking module grants end-users permission to track and view information about the cylinders at their locations. And our Linked Exchange module connects distributors who both use TrackAbout to share cylinder information and eliminate the redundancy of re-initializing cylinders as they move back and forth.
We also see tracking systems moving from a passive software that provides historical data to one that tells users what to do. And we see an opportunity for further efficiencies by partnering with cylinder manufacturers, retesters and refurbishers to provide distributors with ‘TrackAbout Ready’ cylinders, whereby the cylinders arrive at the distributor already initialized in TrackAbout. The cylinder attributes transfer to the distributor’s TrackAbout system (through Linked Exchange) when they scan the cylinder as received.
We understand you will be speaking at gasworld’s European Industrial Gas Conference this month. Could you give us a snapshot of your presentation?
The session is called ‘In the Cloud – Cylinder Tracking and Management’. I’ll be emphasizing the importance of serialized cylinder tracking to the future of gas distributors. There are significant efficiency gains with the implementation of serialized tracking. I’ll be sharing some of the industry data that TrackAbout has collected over the past 15 years to support that position. I’ll also be discussing the importance of a connected supply chain and what it means to the gas distributor.
What’s the last stamp in your passport?
The last stamp on my passport was the United Arab Emirates (UAE); I flew into Dubai International. My time was spent meeting with prospects in Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman.