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, written by Rhea Healy, originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of gasworld. It is reprinted with permission.
It seems that in today’s world, the need for immediate and mobile data is now the norm, with smartphones and the internet practically essential to keep connected to the world. Any information you desire is now just one click away in most cases.
As these trends infiltrate everyday life, they do of course also extend into the industrial gas industry, where the role of ‘smart’ technology has become a staple asset in cylinder tracking and similar industrial applications, eradicating the traditional pen and paper method of a seemingly distant era.
More and more high-profile companies are implementing tracking systems with ‘smart’ features, but just how much further can this evolve and what other technological trends could possibly emerge from this point?
One of the industries TrackAbout has found success with is called Packaged Gas. Companies in this particular industry make all types of gases, such as oxygen, helium and acetylene for industry, medicine, manufacturing and research. Gas is placed in cylinders, which are then tracked using TrackAbout. Most Packaged Gas companies charge rent on the containers for as long as they’re with the end customers.
Occasionally a gas distributor finds itself with a customer that just refuses to pay its rental bill. TrackAbout’s customer General Welding Supply Corporation (GWSCO) of Long Island, NY recently shared the following story.
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.
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.
Depending on the size of your company and the number of cylinders you have to track, asset tracking software can save you thousands of dollars every year.
TrackAbout customers are achieving significant gains in operational efficiency, cost reduction and revenue growth in several areas.
The evidence shows that distributors tracking 25,000 assets are saving an average of $211,500 ($136,500 per year, plus a one-time savings of $75,000 from not having to purchase new cylinders for a year). For distributors tracking over 250,000 cylinders, the savings amounts to several million dollars.
Download the Asset Tracking Software Savings and Loss Prevention infographic to see the numbers that correspond to your business.
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.