Pittsburgh Technical Council

Keeping Track

Keeping Track

Article Published: November 2, 2015

By Tim Hayes, Contributing Writer

You take the jigsaw puzzle off the cupboard shelf, dump out all the pieces and start assembling the picture. After getting about half-way in, you start to realize that there’s no way the pieces left will be enough to finish the puzzle. 

Track About 385So, do you start digging into couch cushions and behind the stove to find those missing pieces?  Do you just give up and settle for an unfinished picture?  Or do you figure out a way to accurately track every piece, so that this frustration never happens again?

That decision, in a way, led to the formation of TrackAbout, a Moon Township-based provider of software that keeps tabs on rental equipment for compressed gas companies (with cylinders used on construction sites, at hospitals and other locations) and a host of additional industries.  Formed 15 years ago, TrackAbout today operates in 17 countries around the world—a tremendous story of growth, especially considering the circumstances of its genesis.

“During my very first customer call, I had a guy poking me in the chest, yelling, swearing, telling me he wasn’t going to pay for any lost gas cylinders—and I wasn’t even there to talk about that,” recalled Tim Fusco, CEO of TrackAbout.  “I realized there was a business here in tracking cylinders properly, and came on as a partner with Jim Glessner.  Jim was the gas industry guy and I was the software guy.

“There had to be a better way to track equipment,” said Fusco.  “There is such pain in the compressed gas business.  Lots of frustration with customers, with cylinders being ‘lost’ or otherwise unaccounted for, lots of visits to Small Claims Court, companies losing money unnecessarily.

“Customers and end-users already were spending time writing stuff on paper to try to keep track of what they are renting, how many, have they all been returned, is there any damage?” he continued.  “The TrackAbout solution eliminates all of that inefficiency and reduces the cost of that wasted time.  From five to eight percent of all gas cylinders are unaccounted for on average, and our system helps ensure proper invoicing and collection.”

TrackAbout uses smartphones that customers already have, or the more traditional handheld devices (like delivery services still use).  According to Fusco, his customers want reliable equipment tracking for maintenance and other tasks that eliminate paperwork entirely.

Smartphones provide an ideal medium for the TrackAbout software, he said, adding that handhelds continue to provide a similarly high level of reliability.  There is a minimal charge per phone or handheld for the TrackAbout app, which coordinates and collects data based on a barcode affixed to each piece of equipment to be rented, which includes gas cylinders, beer kegs, dumpsters and more.

“Our business is different, because instead of tracking deliveries only—as a FedEx does for packages, or a retail store does for merchandise—we’re tracking items that will be coming back to the customer after the end-user has rented them,” Fusco said.  “TrackAbout works in the real world.  If this problem didn’t happen daily, people wouldn’t need us, but it does happen.  We take messes and clean them up.  We see this as a great opportunity for the world to be more efficient.”

Read the entire issue of TEQ Magazine right here.

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