This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of CryoGas International. It is reprinted with permission.
Award-winning author Thomas Friedman said, “Big breakthroughs happen when what is suddenly possible meets what is desperately necessary.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/16/opinion/friedman-come-the-revolution.html) Friedman was referring to the “college education revolution” where advancements in technology made it easier for more people to receive a college degree for a lower cost via an online platform. But history is full of big breakthroughs resulting from innovations that filled a desperate need. The printing press gave greater access to information and set the stage for a transformation of social literacy. The steam engine enabled growth of the railroad and boosted intercontinental trade. Electricity sparked a host of other inventions that account for most of our modern life. And now, cloud technology and mobile computing are changing the way compressed gas distributors operate.
This article was written by Stuart Radnedge of gasworld and originally appeared in the May 2015 issue. It is reprinted with permission.
Technology, and the advancement of it, propels innovation – influencing changes for a better, more efficient mode of conducting everyday life. The late, great, co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, once stated, “Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”
This couldn’t be more true a description than that of the humble telephone – or its development into what we now know as the smartphone. Once the wired telephone lost its cabled connectors, boundaries were broken – and a tool for long distance communication between humans suddenly became limitless. It’s only over the last 15 or so years that the smartphone has become the fully integrated companion to our lives.
And in this In Focus… we look into the positive effect that smartphones – and technology as a whole – has had on the tracking, scheduling and telemonitoring sector of industrial gases.
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.
TrackAbout is committed to helping our customers achieve their goals. No matter what industry they serve, all of our customers have common objectives of saving money, increasing revenue and improving productivity. A few of them took a break from TrackApalooza, our annual user conference, to describe how their companies have benefited from our asset tracking software. Hear what they had to say in the video below. Read about other customers on the Stories section of our website.
This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of gasworld.
Smartphones and other sophisticated mobile devices have taken the world by storm – fundamentally changing the way many of us interact and work every day. People can now carry a small, relatively inexpensive powerful computing device with internet connectivity with them wherever they go. This has meant that, for better or worse, more people find themselves ‘always connected’. However for businesses, especially industries that manage lots of assets, these devices are nothing short of a positive game changing force.
This article was written by Helen Carmichael of gasworld and originally appeared in the December 2014 issue. It is reprinted with permission.
Cylinder tracking is an essential tool for managing a company’s prized assets. Now by deploying cloud data storage and mobile devices, Lockhouse has created another level of asset management for end-users. Helen Carmichael reports.
Recent years have seen an inexorable move towards electronic and bar code tagging and tracking of cylinders among many distribution companies. Although these strategies have saved a lot of time and paperwork, they have also revealed a few problems along the way. Companies have reported trying a number of bar coding strategies before finding the right one, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagging is expensive, may have reliability issues, and also may not be totally future-proof as technology moves forward.
According to Tim Fusco, CEO of asset tracking software company TrackAbout, “for customers who are using RFID, it is expensive, and they are locked into a single track. Barcodes or QR codes are more flexible.”
QR codes (Quick Response Codes) are a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) originating in the Japanese automotive industry, and now cropping up increasingly on our products – which we can scan for more information using our mobile phones. By its choice of QR codes attached on a coated label, Lockhouse intends to use the devices already in everyone’s pockets to find and recover lost assets, says Lockhouse Head of Marketing and Strategy, Cassie Glessner. “Lockhouse is an internet web application,” she told gasworld. “The user scans the code on an asset with their mobile device, and brings up a specific page on that asset. Simultaneously, the location from the GPS on the user’s phone or other handheld device is paired with that asset.”
Lockhouse, then, provides a registry for gas cylinders and other assets that connects different data systems to create a more efficient information exchange between the industry and its users.
Originally published in CryoGas International.
Like it or not, we live in an age of connectivity. It seems like everyone has a smartphone and soon every thing will have some way of communicating through the Internet. Technology is taking us places people only imagined a few short years ago. The Internet is no longer only something we log on to for work or for play or to find a good deal.
The Internet of Things (IoT), where objects are equipped with identifying devices or machine-readable tags like barcodes or RFID chips, is transforming daily life. This smart technology tracks aging family members’ routines and issues an alert if disruptions occur. Smart thermostats use sensors, real-time weather forecasts and the activity in your home to reduce monthly energy usage. Smart machines avoid downtime with embedded sensors that enable maintenance to be scheduled ahead of a failure.
Across every industry, companies are discovering new ways to use smart technology. TrackAbout and its affiliate company Lockhouse are revolutionizing the way industrial gas suppliers and distributors think about their assets.
Originally published in HomeCare magazine.
As your reimbursement, regulatory and business environments continue to evolve, you’ve probably looked at how to reduce costs on multiple occasions. You’ve had to make some difficult decisions. One thing is for sure, you don’t want to incur additional expenses. But, what if an expense could yield new cost savings and efficiencies and pay for itself in less than a year? Asset management software can do exactly that.
Lockhouse will use a few key attributes of a cylinder (including serial number and other
properties) to uniquely identify assets with a readable code. This code then becomes the Passport Tag™ for that cylinder, which accesses a web-based application containing updatable information about each asset in real time. Manufacturers and owners can add important critical information, and can receive feedback and GPS coordinates of the asset from the operator.
Tim Fusco, TrackAbout’s CEO, likes to call Lockhouse a “virtual neck ring.” Since its inception, the industrial gas industry had used neck rings and other markings on cylinders and other packaged gas containers to indicate ownership. With so many acquisitions among packaged gas suppliers over the years, today neck rings are not always correct or useful. Lockhouse is a Virtual Neck Ring that indicates ownership and links to dynamic critical safety and inspection information as well as any other information that the owner wants to make public.
This story originally appeared in gasworld.
New Mexico-based Argyle Welding Supply is reaping the rewards of partnering with TrackAbout, after the asset management solutions provider helped the company to overcome a number of data challenges.
Headquartered in Albuquerque, Argyle Welding Supply is a family-owned wholesale distributor of industrial, medical and specialty gases, welding equipment and supplies, with branches in Las Cruces (New Mexico) and El Paso (Texas).
Despite its success in the market, the company had still been faced with challenges; a lack of reliable data to provide accurate billing, resolve customer disputes and account for cylinders had a negative financial impact.
“We now have the evidence to back-up our claims in customer disputes. We can provide our customers with specific detail as to the exact cylinder, order number and delivery date and time.”
“We never want customers to take their business elsewhere so we found ourselves caving in because we didn’t have the indisputable back-up we needed,” said Jim Wright, President of Argyle Welding Supply (right). “It affected our business financially as we were often writing off lost cylinders and rental revenue, not to mention the time spent arguing these disputes.”
The company turned to TrackAbout, which offered proven success in overcoming everyday obstacles that hinder the collection of detailed and correct information, leveraging technology to eliminate the inefficiencies of traditional paper-based systems. Data is collected at key stages via mobile handheld computers, smartphones or tablets, providing timely, accurate information that is free of manual keying errors.
“What really amazed me was the ability to capture cylinder history,” said Wright. “We now have the evidence to back-up our claims in customer disputes. We can provide our customers with specific detail as to the exact cylinder, order number and delivery date and time. We can even tell them when the cylinder was scanned on and off the truck. This adds legitimacy to our claims and it has reduced dramatically the financial issues we’d experienced.”
Armed with accurate asset balances, Argyle was able to start billing for the cylinders that weren’t accounted for. “We increased our rental income by about 6-8%,” he said. “Overall, TrackAbout enables us to do a better job,” said Wright. “We will never forget to bill for a 2,000 lb. bulk tank again.”