Barcode Scanning with the iPhone has been Improved

The latest iPhone, the 6S, now has an improved 12 megapixel camera. How does that impact you? If you're using the DataWeld iPhone app, or plan to, it can have a big impact. The app allows an operator to use a traditional bluetooth barcode scanner or the built in iPhone camera. The iPhone camera has always worked, but it was more of a last resort. It took too much time to focus to be practical for continuous scanning. Our recent internal testing has shown the iPhone 6S to read barcodes almost as fast as a dedicated barcode scanner. What this means is that you may want to look closely at the iPhone 6S for scanning purposes. If, after your own testing, you decide to use the camera as opposed to a traditional barcode scanner, then you've saved some money. If you decide to continue using the bluetooth scanner, then you have a vastly improved back up scanner. 

There's an iPhone update!

A newly enhanced and updated version of AcuTrax for the iPhone will be available this May. It will actually make the iPhone work a little more like the other handhelds you're used to using, such as the Janam and the Workabout Pro. When scanning cylinders, the operator will enter the total to be shipped or returned and then start scanning. The program will automatically increment the total number of cylinders shipped and wait for the next scan. 

New Trovan iPhone Reader
In addition to this new version of AcuTrax for the iPhone, Trovan recently released a new transponder reader for the iPhone market. The reader is about the size of a garage door opener and connects via BlueTooth, eliminating the need for cables. The price has been dramatically reduced making the new reader a mere $200. Want to read more? Click here for the PDF.

iPhone Solves the Lot Number Tracking Problem

Since its founding 33 years ago, DataWeld Incorporated, based in Bossier City, Louisiana, has specialized in providing modern day solutions to the age old problems of tracking cylinder assets for the compressed gas distributor.

There was a time when the driving force behind a distributor wanting to track his cylinders was either better asset management, better customer relations, or both. But in today’s world, distributors often are faced with totally different reasons for needing to track their cylinder assets: the United States government.

As an example, for years the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has mandated tracking of lot numbers for medical gases. As anyone who has tried it knows, tracking lot numbers manually is very tedious and very error-prone. Being able to determine where all of the cylinders in a particular lot number are currently located can be even more difficult, if not impossible.

To complicate things even more for the compressed gas distributor, in recent months there has been

quite a bit of conversation about where the FDA is headed in terms of tracking lot numbers for products like CO2 for beverage gases and CO2 for food processing. As it currently stands, CO2 going into food processing requires lot number tracking, while CO2 used for carbonization does not require lot number tracking. But it looks like the FDA is headed that way.

The answer to the headache of tracking lot numbers, as it is with many tedious tasks, is automating the process. Put bar code labels on your cylinders, buy a bunch of handheld computers, and start tracking your cylinders and, more specifically, their lot numbers.

It is a good solution, but many distributors have turned away from tracking cylinders (and lot numbers) electronically because of the high startup costs. But now there is a better solution that lets you track lot numbers without breaking the bank, DataWeld’s iPhone-based cylinder tracking software, AcuTrax.

DataWeld’s iPhone-based software provides the benefits of tracking cylinders and lot numbers without the expense of buying proprietary handheld computers. The iPhone also offers other advantages. One device can be used to track cylinders, communicate, text, provide driving directions (GPS) and even provide digital proof of delivery. The fact that many drivers already have iPhones further reduces the cost.

Instead of writing down serial numbers and lot numbers, AcuTrax gives the capability to enter the lot number and then scan every cylinder in the lot.

When the cylinder is delivered to the customer, the driver simply scans the bar code and AcuTrax keeps track of who this lot numbered cylinder was shipped to. Easy-to-use queries answer all your questions about lot numbers in seconds. 

The government will forever be implementing new policies and procedures that create additional paperwork. DataWeld’s iPhone cylinder tracking software can eliminate much of that paperwork without costing you a bundle. 

Where's the proof?

One of the most common questions our distributors are asked by their customers is "Can you tell me who signed for that delivery?” Another common question is "Can you show me the original delivery document?” Perhaps there is a legitimate concern about an item delivered, cylinders returned or maybe the customer is just trying to avoid paying. Regardless, there normally are only two ways to produce the desired proof for the customer. One is to go through your filing system, get a copy of the original delivery document with all the handwritten notes including the signature and then send it to the customer via fax or email. The other option is to invest in a document imaging system and scan every delivery document. The document imaging option is very sophisticated and works nicely, but can require a large up-front investment.

Now there is a another option, the iPhone. Using the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, you can take a picture of the delivery document immediately after the customer signs it. The image of the document is saved with the date, time and invoice number and these images are automatically uploaded to a designated server via a cellular or Wi-Fi connection.

Once the images are on the server, you will be able to bring them up and email the image to the customer as proof of delivery or to answer their questions. 

The obvious advantage to this approach is that you can provide absolute proof of delivery to your customers without the requirement to invest in a document imaging system. The other advantage is that having each driver capture the image as part of the delivery process eliminates a scanning bottleneck back at the office.