This story comes from Louise Pickett, TrackAbout Senior Support Specialist.
It’s always fun to get out of the office to see what our clients are up to. They are always doing interesting things. And now, with the TrackAbout smartphone app, the tasks are so much easier from anywhere.
It was a beautiful spring day in California, and I was at a client site for a new implementation training. I suggested ahead of time that we visit a customer close by to perform a customer audit to ensure accurate balances. So after lunch at the local burrito place, Bob, Rachel, Umberto and I hopped in the car and headed over to see one of their customers. Mike, our client’s sales rep, met us at the customer location since he had nurtured a good relationship with them.
Mike selected a great customer for this audit. They create displays for all kinds of conventions and trade shows. Their location is a huge warehouse, with stations for welding, for woodworking, for any kind of creating you can imagine!
We all got out our smartphones and started scanning cylinders as part of the audit. When we thought we were done, I logged into the TrackAbout website, right from my smartphone, and checked the customer’s balance. We were three scans shy of what TrackAbout thought they should have. So we walked all over the warehouse, searching for more. In the process, we found Stormtroopers and Pokémon eggs, as well as a two-story, wooden house which was under construction, all right there inside the warehouse. This was pure geek heaven!
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 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.
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.”
According to the Association of Energy Service Companies (AESC), oilfield thefts amount to an estimated $1 billion USD annually. Stolen equipment ranges in value from $100 to $10,000 USD or more per item and includes laptops with proprietary information, control panels, pipes, valves, heavy equipment and anything else that isn’t bolted down, as well as some things that are.
Clearly, there’s a problem. What’s interesting is that many of the well service companies we’ve contacted deny ever having anything go missing, whether stolen or unknowingly misplaced. I suppose it’s not surprising really. We’ve seen this scenario before.