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The Inside Track: TrackAbout Support Team Shares Favorite Features

Alex Neubert, the newest member of the TrackAbout Support and Implementation Team, polls her co-workers about their favorite TrackAbout feature they think our customers will love.

Jessica Gullickson

November 1, 2016

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Feature Spotlight - Maintenance Action Schedules

Our ongoing Feature Spotlight series highlights one important tool in the TrackAbout toolbox to help you operate more efficiently and maximize the utilization of your assets in any asset management programs.

Action Schedules: Stay Ahead of Asset Maintenance

If you invest in portable physical assets, you already know having an effective asset maintenance or management program helps ensure your assets are available when your customers need them and that they are in safe working condition.

But what tools do you have in place to ensure you are handling maintenance proactively rather than reactively?  TrackAbout’s Action Schedules feature allows you to stay ahead of asset maintenance.  Know what’s coming due and address maintenance issues ahead of time to keep your inventory in service and ready for use.

Jessica Gullickson

June 17, 2016

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Feature Spotlight - Consumables and Hard Goods

Our ongoing Feature Spotlight series highlights one important tool in the TrackAbout toolbox to help you operate more efficiently and maximize the utilization of your assets.

Consumables and Hard Goods Delivery and Billing

What are Consumables and Hard Goods?  As opposed to Rental goods, which are rented out to customers and then returned to you, Consumables and Hard Goods are items provided to your customers that you don’t expect to have returned.  These could be items such as medical tubing, welding wire, gloves, goggles, etc.  You may not need to track each of these items individually, but you need to know how many and of what type made it to the customer.  You can deliver these, and bill them, right out of TrackAbout.

Jessica Gullickson

May 19, 2016

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Feature Spotlight - Capture GPS Coordinates

Each Feature Spotlight highlights one important tool in the TrackAbout toolbox that helps you operate more efficiently and maximize the utilization of your assets.

About GPS Capture (Smartphone Only)

TrackAbout is excited to announce the following enhancements to our iOS and Android apps.

  • Being able to capture GPS coordinates during mobile transactions, and
  • The display of maps on the web site that show asset and transaction locations in mobile geotagging.

Get better information about your inventory.  Know where your assets are when you need them.

These features are available to TrackAbout's iOS/Android subscribers and must be enabled by our Support team. Contact support@trackabout.com for assistance.

Jessica Gullickson

March 21, 2016

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Laser Scanner or Imager for Barcode Asset Tracking - Which is better?

Many of us think of lasers when we think of scanning barcodes. Indeed, lasers were the dominant scanning technology for the first several decades of the barcoding industry. Around 2007, new imaging technology became competitive with lasers. Today lasers are no longer the best choice in all (or even most) scenarios. So the question remains between laser scanners versus barcode imagers: which should you choose for your business?

Dr Evil Meme: Frickin Laser Beams

 

In this chapter, we’ll explore the barcode scanning technology that is being used successfully for asset tracking. In keeping with the theme of this book, we won’t be going into great detail about how the technologies fundamentally work. Instead, we’ll focus on what you need to know to make a wise choice in technology and have good outcomes depending on your particular use case.

We'll explore:

  • Ability to read the most barcode symbologies
  • Reading a barcode on a screen
  • Reading at a distance
  • Motion tolerance
  • Reading poor quality barcodes
  • Lighting conditions
  • Discrimination
  • Labels

Larry Silverman

March 9, 2016

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Pitfall: Serial Numbers are Not Unique

Choosing a Tracking ID

When tracking your equipment, every item must have a unique identifier (ID) assigned so the system can tell them apart. This can be called the “tracking ID”, “tag ID” or “barcode”.

But how do you choose the format of that unique ID in your serial number tracking system? What do you encode into the barcode?

Depending on your industry, this might already be decided for you. The GS1 organization helps many industries standardize their barcodes. As a company, you would register a globally-unique barcode prefix with GS1. Your company is then free to use the remaining space in the barcode to encode your own unique numbers.

If GS1 barcodes aren’t right for you, then the most important thing is that you choose numbers that are going to be unique among all your supply chain partners, among all their assets and all the systems they might use.

Many assets have serial numbers assigned by the manufacturer. The serial number may be on a sticker, a metal plate, or indelibly stamped or engraved into the asset.

TrackAbout recommends capturing the serial number in the asset tracking system whenever possible. The serial number serves as an extra way to find an asset should the barcode or RFID tag become unreadable or lost.

You might think, “Hey, the manufacturer went to all this trouble to stamp this serial number on here. It’s unique, let’s use it as our tracking ID.” Please believe me when I say this is a Really Bad Idea.

Larry Silverman

February 26, 2016

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Feature Spotlight - Shortcut Barcodes

Our ongoing Feature Spotlight series highlights one important tool in the TrackAbout toolbox to help you operate more efficiently and maximize the utilization of your assets.

Shortcut Barcodes

Did you know you can save time and reduce errors by barcoding objects besides your tracked assets?

TrackAbout provides a feature that allows you to create barcodes for items like trucks, equipment used in production, even personnel numbers.  These barcodes help your operators enter information more quickly and without the potential errors caused by manual data entry.

Jessica Gullickson

January 18, 2016

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Use Shortcut Barcodes to Accelerate Your Work

Speed Up Work with Shortcut Barcodes

If you only think of a barcode as a tracking ID, think bigger. Shortcut barcodes can be used as work accelerators enabling great gains in worker productivity.

A shortcut barcode is a custom barcode that speeds data entry or makes the software do something other than just collect data. Whenever there's a chance to scan a barcode rather than type or tap on the screen, we try to use a shortcut barcode.

TrackAbout's mobile apps support shortcut barcodes in many places. We’ve worked with our customers to accelerate mobile workflows in dozens of ways through the clever use of well-placed custom barcodes.

This chapter will discuss several uses of shortcut barcodes that we've implemented in TrackAbout.

Larry Silverman

December 16, 2015

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Barcodes: A Brief History

The first barcode, with a design like a bullseye, was invented in 1948 by two Drexel University students named Norman J Woodland and Bernard Silver. They were interested in tackling the problems of the supermarket industry, which sorely needed a better method of inventory management and customer check-out. The pair received a patent in 1952. Long story short, it worked in the lab but was wildly impractical due to the limitations of the technology of the day.

Bullseye Barcode Design from Patent US2612994

The first practical implementation of a linear barcode came in the 1960s. The Association of American Railroads sponsored the project and Sylvania (Needham, Massachusetts) built the KarTrak ACI (Automatic Car Identification) system.

David J. Collins, an MIT graduate, designed the system. He had become aware of the need for tracking rail cars while working for the Pennsylvania Railroad as an undergraduate.

Collins' KarTrak system used a pattern of 3M Scotchlite blue and orange strips which encoded mainly ownership details and a unique car number.

KarTrack ACI Barcode
"KarTrak code" photo by Quinn Rossi - http://www.flickr.com/photos/theeskimo/4898894840/. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

Larry Silverman

November 19, 2015

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Feature Spotlight - Truck Manifests

Our ongoing Feature Spotlight series highlights one important tool in the TrackAbout arsenal to help you operate more efficiently and maximize the utilization of your assets.

Truck Manifests

TrackAbout helps with government compliance by generating truck manifests for assets loaded on your trucks.  Prevent errors due to manual entry while getting your drivers out the door faster.

Government agencies such as the Department of Transportation (DOT) in the US require trucks to maintain accurate manifests of their cargo.

This feature is available to TrackAbout Core Tracking clients who subscribe to our Truck Load and Manifest module.

Jessica Gullickson

November 19, 2015

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