Comfort Systems USA – Mid South; Birmingham, Alabama
As a leading design-build and design-assist mechanical contractor for HVAC, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, Comfort Systems USA’s Mid South division coordinates a large number of personnel, materials, tools and equipment for commercial and industrial projects.
For John Gromko, shipping and receiving manager at the company’s Birmingham, Alabama, location, the most important part of providing customers with a turn-key experience is ensuring parts and equipment like variable air volume (VAV) systems, ductwork, external grills and piping for each project are efficiently and accurately tracked. From the time they arrive at the warehouse or off-site laydown yard to the time they are placed on the project site for installation, Gromko is responsible for knowing where project materials are at all times and for communicating locations and delivery times to foremen and project managers.
Coordinating delivery of multiple pieces of equipment all at once for large-scale projects like hospitals, prisons and universities, including the University of Alabama, Gromko’s work involves a lot of moving parts. For him, accurate check-in, check-out, and delivery of equipment are essential, as misplaced or miscommunicated deliveries can lead to costly project delays.
In an effort to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the company’s existing multi-step tracking process, Gromko was tasked by the company’s vice president of operations to find a better way to track material from the time it is received from the vendor to the time it is delivered to the jobsite. He was then directed by a manager to try a new tool on the market called Duck Pro® by Shurtape® BR Code™ Scannable Solutions powered by the BitRip app. The manager had learned about the product when BitRip co-founder Catherine Chapman visited a local vendor. Gromko then secured his first roll to test.
BR Code Scannable Solutions are scannable labels that feature preprinted dynamic codes that can be stuck to just about any surface and scanned using a smartphone or tablet and a corresponding app called BitRip. Once the code is scanned, the user can upload additional details and information, including photos, and tie the information to the code. Each code scan captures a timestamp and geolocation, and all information can be shared with other users who have the app and access to the code.
Setup in Seconds
Before switching to BR Code Scannable Solutions to track shipping and receiving activities, Gromko and the company’s project foremen and project managers relied on a multi-step tracking process to capture and communicate the delivery and location of project equipment.
For example, when an AC unit was delivered to the laydown yard in Birmingham, Gromko manually recorded when the unit was received and took a photo of the packing slip. That packing list and a photo of the equipment and the data plate were emailed to the project manager, who then had to file it electronically and keep up with it. With multiple units in motion at any given time, using manual data entry and email to coordinate equipment deliveries was becoming untenable.
“Now, when units arrive, I stick a BR Code label to each one and scan the codes on the tape with my phone and the app,” describes Gromko. “Then I have a timestamp and location for that unit, and I can upload a picture of the packing slip and a picture of the unit tag or the unit itself. Each one takes only seconds to create.”
Once a code is scanned, project managers are alerted and can begin tracking the unit’s flow from receiving all the way to the jobsite.
A feature of BR Code Scannable Solutions that Gromko particularly appreciates is the fact that the label accurately tracks where an item was last scanned. In the past, he was able to verify units were delivered to a jobsite, but he could not pinpoint where on the site if an installer was having trouble locating a delivery. Using the BitRip app, Gromko can now add notes to each labeled unit to indicate where the unit should be placed on site — a level of detail that is especially useful for projects that involve multiple floors.
“All I have to do is add a note that says ‘second floor,’ and that unit will go right where it’s supposed to,” says Gromko. “The location accuracy of BR Code labels can typically get an installer within about 20 feet.”
Expanding Use to Other Areas
With BR Code Scannable Solutions and the BitRip app working well in the shipping and receiving department, Gromko is now promoting its use in other areas throughout the company.
“I think BR Code labels would be great for our warranty department, especially for units that we continue to service and maintain over a period of time,” says Gromko. He has also recommended the product and app for use in the service department for easier tracking of service records and for the AP department to keep track of laptop inventory.
Gromko also said that next year he plans to use BR Code labels to create delivery tickets for system builds that are shipped on pallets to jobsites and installed by other contractors.
What is the BR Code Scannable Solutions line?
Duck Pro by Shurtape BR Code Scannable Solutions is a line of scannable labels that features preprinted, dynamic codes. Codes can be stuck on virtually any object or surface and scanned using a mobile device and a free app called BitRip. Once scanned, the user can use the app to upload everything from photos, text documents and PDFs to hyperlinks and voice memos with information and instructions for a project or building material—then link that information to the individual code. Each code scan also generates a timestamp and records the geolocation data.
How to Use BR Code labels in 3 Simple Steps: Stick. Scan. Connect.™
Apply a BR Code label to an object.
Scan label code using a mobile device and the BitRip app to record the timestamp, capture the geolocation data and begin uploading information.