Shortcut Barcodes – Feature Spotlight

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.

TrackAbout

The Code 128 Barcode Symbology

This is a free preview chapter from the upcoming eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Barcodes for Asset Tracking authored by TrackAbout's Chief Technology Officer, Larry Silverman. If you’d like to be notified when future chapters are shared, please sign up.

  

We covered the Code 39 barcode symbology in a previous chapter. Now we’ll tackle Code 39’s little brother, Code 128.

Code 128 is an improvement on Code 39. It was designed to be more compact than Code 39 and it is about 30% narrower. This means more data can be encoded in a smaller space. It also means spending less money on ink or toner.

Here is the string 1234567 encoded using Code 128.

Code 128: Code 128 Symbology

Here is the same string 1234567 encoded with Code 39:

Code 39: Code39 Symbology

You can see it takes a lot more bars to encode the Code 39 version. Code 128 is more efficient.

Everyone loves efficiency, BUT creating Code 128 barcodes is more complicated than creating Code 39 barcodes.

In keeping with the theme of this book, we’ll try not to get bogged down in the complications. Instead, we’ll narrow our scope to just what you need to know to get the job done.

TrackAbout

Software User Conference or Family Reunion?

I’m sitting around the table after dinner, and like most everyone else I’m listening to Jim, Louise, and Jessica sing an old but familiar tune while they sway together arm in arm. The murmur of a few muted side conversations over coffee and dessert doesn’t seem to bother them at all, and they even get some help from some of the rest of us during the chorus. Their song concludes to the sound of some encouraging applause and perhaps a little laughter. The smiles and chatter carry on.

Jim, Louise and Jessica sing What a Wonderful World

If it sounds to you like I’m describing some kind of Dickens-esque family gathering, you might be surprised to hear that this is actually a scene from a software user conference, namely from the most recent TrackApalooza. Last month we closed out this 2015 edition of the TrackAbout user conference with a dinner at the historic Allegheny County Airport, and it was there inside a charming little Art Deco building that the impromptu musical number took place.

Trackapalooza Evening Festivities

A lot of companies like to remind the public that they are family companies. Some might be multinational corporations whose major shareholders just happen to share a last name, but others are truly multi-generational affairs where each employee has a genuine interest in seeing the business, and their family, succeed. TrackAbout falls much more in line with this latter type of company. And though you won’t find the lot of us sharing a last name, what you will find are people who share the same vision and dedication to success.

TrackApalooza Dinner

The mood at TrackApalooza indeed feels something like a big reunion, where the entire TrackAbout family comes together. I’m being honest when I say that we employees at TrackAbout really look forward to meeting our customers. The dedication to success I mentioned is not just something that we employees give only to the company or to one another, but something we genuinely want for each and every one of our customers. In fact, the most important part of our TrackAbout family is our customers, and what TrackApalooza is really about is getting the opportunity to stop everything (literally everything–the entire company shows up) to sit down and chat.

Listening to the customer

The conversations go both ways. As much as it’s our opportunity to present workshops, share exciting new features, and discuss future plans with customers, we get the opportunity to listen. What’s working great for you? What can we help you understand better? Where can we help you get even more value? What killer new feature would you love to see? A brainstorming session over coffee and cheesecake can turn into next week’s project.

TrackAbout and its Customers

After the conclusion of the the first full day of the conference I found myself having a drink with a customer I’d never met or even spoken to before that day. Yet we chatted easily, only a little about assets and software at first, but then mostly about where we grew up, the struggles that each city had gone through, and what we both thought was bound to be a bright future. A week or two after the conference had ended, our Support Manager assigned me a small project working with that same customer. I called him up to get things kicked off, and immediately (at least I’d like to think) we had a good rapport to get things off to a good start. We had looked each other in the eye those few weeks ago, we’d watched Jim, Louise, and Jessica sing. And I think we both felt that we are working towards the same goal and vision–that the future was bright.

TrackApalooza Collage

 

If you’re a customer who’s been to TrackApalooza before, you know what I’m talking about. But if you’re a customer and a member of the TrackAbout family who’s still skeptical about all this talk of shared vision, dedication, and goals, I can only tell you this: watch your email for the next edition of TrackApalooza, and come to the family reunion. Then tell me if you don’t see it too.

The TrackAbout team at TrackApalooza 2015

TrackAbout

TrackAbout Release Notes – December 2015

TrackAbout is always putting out new features and improving existing ones. Below, you’ll find information about some of the recent changes coming out of TrackAbout.

If you have questions about how you can start using any of these new features please reach out to our Support team at support@trackabout.com.

Features and Updates

Maintenance Tracking – Increased Support for Dynamic Forms

TrackAbout’s mobile apps allow clients to capture information about maintenance performed on their assets.  Painting, inspections, cleaning, re-valving… you name it and our clients are capturing it.  Maintenance tracking has become so popular our clients need the application to take operators through more forms and faster.

This month we’ve increased support for larger numbers of maintenance dynamic forms to load more quickly on handheld devices.  Get your assets through service quicker to get them back out into active inventory.

Read our Trackabout Wiki about Maintenance and Dynamic Forms for more information.

This enhancement is automatically available to clients using Core Tracking with Maintenance Dynamic Forms on our TAM6 application.  If you are not yet using TAM6, (or are not sure!), feel free to contact our TrackAbout Support team to get you set up.

 

Faster Asset Lookups during Sort Trip Load and Wireless Lookup

Your operators need to get through their handheld actions as fast as possible and with accurate data.  We have made some changes to our TAM6 application to make sure it takes less time when looking up assets during

  • Sort Trip Load – known as “Picking” and used in preparation for Delivery.  This action is available to clients using our Proof of Delivery module.
  • Wireless Lookup – used to pull current info about an asset).  This action is available to any Core Tracking client.

This enhancement is automatically available to clients using Core Tracking on our TAM6 platform.  If you are not yet using TAM6, (or are not sure!), feel free to contact our TrackAbout Support team to get you set up. 

 

iOS and Android Features –  Delivery Support for Not-Scanned Assets

TrackAbout is continuing to port features to our TA Mobile applications for iOS and Android products.  For this release, we now support Not-Scanned Assets for inclusion during the complete delivery process.  This means in addition to capturing information about tagged assets out to customers, you can also track non-tagged assets by product and quantity.

Users are led through screens to enter the Product and quantity of Not Scanned assets to be loaded or delivered.

Smartphone_NS Delivery

Not-Scanned Items can be included during the following actions:

  • Load Truck
  • Delivery
  • Unload Truck

This feature is available to any TrackAbout smartphone subscriber with Core tracking.  See our TrackAbout website for more information about Smartphone

TrackAbout

Use Shortcut Barcodes to Accelerate Your Work

This is a free preview chapter from the upcoming eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Barcodes for Asset Tracking authored by TrackAbout's Chief Technology Officer, Larry Silverman. If you’d like to be notified when future chapters are shared, please sign up.

  

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 shortcut barcodes.

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

TrackAbout

What Makes a Great Barcode Label?

This is a free preview chapter from the upcoming eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Barcodes for Asset Tracking authored by TrackAbout's Chief Technology Officer, Larry Silverman. If you’d like to be notified when future chapters are shared, please sign up.

  

“Will it last?”

We get that question a lot. In TrackAbout’s 15 years of business, we’ve had the good fortune to see our barcode labels used in the harshest, most challenging environments in the world. We’ve learned the hard way what makes a great barcode label that lasts. TrackAbout sells asset tracking barcode labels to most of our customers.

You might think a label is a label is a label, but you’d be wrong. There are features you can tweak to arrive at the best label. In this chapter, I’ll focus on exactly what you need to know to make a great barcode label for use with an asset tracking system.

Typical roll of highly durable barcode labels from TrackAbout

TrackAbout

TrackAbout Release Notes – November 2015

TrackAbout is always putting out new features and improving existing ones. Below, you’ll find information about some of the recent changes coming out of TrackAbout.

If you have questions about how you can start using any of these new features please reach out to our Support team at support@trackabout.com .

Features and Updates

Performance, Performance, Performance!

You spoke and we heard.  TrackAbout has spent time over the past few months making performance improvements on the server side.  We know it’s important for the system to be accurate and fast.  Along with the many changes made to TrackAbout behind the scenes, we’re making sure you see performance improvements while using our TAM6 application during

  • Device synchronization
  • Wireless lookups and validation
  • Maintenance dynamic form processes

and on the TrackAbout website during

  • TrackAbout rental generation
  • Physical inventory reconciliation

The core change that made all the above possible is a sizable architectural change designed to further isolate customers from impacting each others’ web site performance during times of heavy processing.

These changes are automatically available to all TrackAbout clients.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TrackAbout

The Code 39 Barcode Symbology

This is a free preview chapter from the upcoming eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Barcodes for Asset Tracking authored by TrackAbout's Chief Technology Officer, Larry Silverman. If you’d like to be notified when future chapters are shared, please sign up.

  

Demystifying barcode symbologies

What is a Barcode Symbology?

If you’re learning about barcodes, you’ll quickly come across the term “symbology”. The easiest way to think about symbology is that it’s the look and feel of the barcode. A barcode symbology is a specification that describes how a certain barcode looks and how it does what it does.

More than a hundred different symbologies have been developed since the invention of the barcode. Many are obsolete and have been replaced with more robust, readable symbologies. Many aren’t used in typical asset tracking applications. We’ll focus on the barcode symbologies that we see most often in asset tracking software and applications.

We see the following symbologies most frequently in asset tracking applications:

  • Code 39
  • Code 128
  • QR Code
  • Data Matrix

In this chapter, we’ll focus on Code 39.

TrackAbout

Barcodes: A Brief History

This is a free preview chapter from the upcoming eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Barcodes for Asset Tracking authored by TrackAbout's Chief Technology Officer, Larry Silverman. If you’d like to be notified when future chapters are shared, please sign up.

  

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.

TrackAbout

Truck Manifests – Feature Spotlight

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.

TrackAbout