Program is in beta test with industrial users both on the jobsite and off
When Bosch introduced its Bluehound asset tracking solution to select customers, the focus was on builders on the jobsite. That’s still the case. But a great beta test site has turned out to be a rental equipment and supply house that works with its customers.
Cole Breese, inventory warehouse manager, 365 Equipment and Supply, Barrington, Ill., knows an advantage when he sees one. “We’re always looking to get better,” said Breese of the company’s decision to test Bluehound. “We’ve been testing this out on a big project for about seven months. We need to see where equipment has been so that we can optimize asset availability, verify quantity access and monitor records tied to individual assets.”
Getting the Jobsite Running
365 rents everything from power tools and work platforms to cranes and front loaders, in a market area that stretches from Chicagoland to Milwaukee. The company is a one-stop shop for contractors, sub-contractors and municipalities. 365 also sells power tool accessories to support its rentals.
Ryan Braschko, warehouse manager at 365 Equipment and Supply, says there are 7,800 pieces of equipment in the company’s fleet. Up to this point, the company has relied on traditional methods to track when products were rented, when they left a site and when they were returned. If a product stays in the field, the 365 team has limited information as it moves from jobsite to jobsite.
With Bosch Bluehound, Braschko can accurately track every job an item has served, as well as duration and status. While 365 hasn’t implemented the entire Bosch solution, the pair notes that Bluehound has been able to complement and enhance their current system. Bosch tracking tags can be placed on every piece of equipment so it’s easier to see where an item is in real time. The 365 goal is to replace the manual tracking/static bar code-following computer software system that captures tool serial number, jobsite name and contact information for the foreman at a single jobsite.
Efficiency of Asset Flow
Bluehound development has pushed the Bosch research team to consult with everyone from jobsite managers to company owners, from site owners and general contractors to developers and sub-contractors. Bosch has also talked to distributors about how sales representatives find products when they’re in the field.
Even with the diverse feedback Bosch has gathered, there’s no test site quite like 365 Equipment and Supply. “Most of the adjustments we’ve made to Bluehound were influenced by our experience at 365,” said Eli Share, mobile and IoT lead, Bosch Power Tools. “We’re working to be the software link between the tool crib and the jobsite. We’ve seen the influence this technology can have here.”
Share notes that one of the biggest challenges for their customers is that tools and equipment walk from jobsite to jobsite. Nothing has been stolen, but no one in the organization knows which site has what products and equipment. There’s no clear reporting, yet some companies generate thousands of pages of paperwork. He observed that many man-hours of manually checking and verifying records doesn’t prevent lost and stolen items.
What’s clear is that companies want to know where tools and equipment are located all the time, including small tools. One of the things that makes Bluehound attractive is that users can immediately tell if a product is lost or stolen due to manual status updates in the system. And that’s related to the tag.
“On the jobsite, people see the tag – that’s a theft deterrent to start,” said Braschko. “But the real value is that it saves time by showing equipment location on a map.” And any discrepancy about tool location can potentially be cleared up with a single phone call.
The Service Angle
In the case of 365, it’s less expensive to repair serviceable tools rather than having to replace them on a regular basis. With Bosch Bluehound, users know what the maintenance history is so repairs can be completed in a proactive manner. The system also reduces the reliance on manual maintenance administration.
“Everything we need is there in Bluehound,” said Breese. “The system was raw when it first came in, but the team has built up a hierarchy of asset tracking, locations and other details. Initially, we didn’t know what to expect, but we knew this was an opportunity to improve our business.”
The lifecycle for products at 365 is remarkably consistent: small tools, three-to-five years; larger tools, five years; laser measuring tools, seven to eight years. Efficiency and cost savings come when Breese and Braschko know where tools are located all the time rather than having to purchase replacements.
Today, 365 Equipment and Supply buys more tools than it takes in return, but that’s now a product of growth. Throughout the course of its short history, 365 has seen its business grow and become balanced season to season. With Bluehound, the company has been able to optimize asset availability, quantity access and records tied to individual assets. And these functions can be done from anywhere.
“This is the first time we’ve used a live tracker,” said Braschko. “It’s been good.”