Bar Code Industry News
Have you ever forgotten where you left a tool?
You probably understand the frustration of wasting time searching for it or wasting money to buy a new one. Imagine what a $400 million construction company goes through, sending multiple crews to sites nationwide, performing various types of labor, using a wide range of tools and equipment. Herzog Contracting Corp. faced a major challenge when they realized that for each project, they replaced at least 10 percent of the tools used. The only system in place for organizing and tracking equipment was each crew’s foreman taking tools on the “honor system.” The resulting cost of lost and stolen property was having a major impact on Herzog’s profitability. One project alone resulted in the company replacing more than 1,000 tape measures.
An opportunity arose in 2009 when Herzog signed the contract for constructing Denver’s West Corridor Light Rail Project. The company asked Dynamic Systems Inc., a software company which develops barcode
data collection applications, to help them implement an asset management
solution. The answer incorporated a mobile computing
system with the ability to label and scan bar codes on each tool owned by the company.
There were several things to consider before choosing a mobile computing system. First, the company operates by sending out crews to their work sites. There is no centralized office and usually no Internet. Also, the nature of the work environment called for a heavy-duty solution that would not be affected by dust, dirt, or being dropped on concrete. If bar codes were used, they had to be durable and small enough to fit on any type of tool. Bar codes needed be quickly and easily scanned so that new tools could be logged into the system without interrupting a project.
The complete solution for Herzog’s challenge incorporated Honeywell’s Dolphin 7850 mobile computer
and Honeywell’s Focus 1690 hand-held scanner, with Dynamic Systems’ CheckMate software for tool tracking, and preprinted 1D and 2D bar codes.
Honeywell’s Dolphin 7850 has a user-friendly, touch screen interface, and also has a signature capture functionality allowing tools to be signed out electronically, therefore encouraging responsibility and ownership. The signature also provides a legal record for the company in cases where expensive tools or equipment go missing.
Preprinted 1D and 2D bar codes were designed to meet Herzog’s specific size and durability needs. Honeywell’s Focus 1690 is a hand-held area-imaging scanner that can quickly read these bar codes. The scanner uses Dynamic System’s CheckMate ToolRoom software, which allows information from the bar codes to be loaded into an electronic library for tracking of tools. The software is able to classify tools by value and to monitor more expensive tools more carefully. Without wireless access, the updates are not made in real-time, but they can still be performed a few times a day so that the database can be used to track down the exact location of specific tools at any given moment.
Since employing the new mobile computing and bar code solution in May 2009, Herzog is saving an estimated $20,000 per month due to decreases in tool and equipment loss. The company has been able to see a new sense of ownership and responsibility among foremen and crews. Also, the ability to know where certain tools are at any given point has saved time and increased productivity.
Herzog looks forward to utilizing the same mobile computing and bar code system at other sites, expecting to see the same benefits. The company plans to implement a duplicate system in upcoming North Texas Rail Project.