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Cleaning Up with Bar Codes

ServiceMaster uses barcodes to track equipment at worksites

Opportunity: eliminate loss of mobile cleaning equipment

ServiceMaster was founded as a moth-proofing company in 1929 and expanded to carpet cleaning in 1952, establishing one of America's first franchise businesses. Today, the company operates eight businesses, including over 4,500 ServiceMaster Clean franchises providing cleaning and restoration for homes and businesses. While each ServiceMaster Clean franchise offers different services to meet their market needs, all deliver services that require a diverse array of mobile equipment – dehumidifiers, ozone generators, water extractors, duct vacuums, etc. – that can be misplaced while cleaning sites affected by floods, earthquakes or fire. "Lost equipment was costing me $20,000 each year," said Doug Mascari, a franchisee specializing in water and fire damage in Maryland. "Items went from one job to another, wouldn't be inventoried and would get left behind."

Solution: barcode-enabled asset tracking

ServiceMaster developed Mobile Service Manager – a proprietary system – to accurately inventory and track equipment using barcode labels. The serial number of each asset is tied to a barcode number and the Web-hosted system uses handheld computers to scan assets during every phase of a project. Mascari was among the first franchisees to use barcode tracking as a means of reducing time and money spent on lost equipment. "We scan equipment repeatedly – from our warehouse to the truck to the room and in each room," said Mascari. "Then we reverse the process when leaving." Chris Smith follows similar protocols and was another early adopter of the system. His growing franchise serves the Texas coast east of Houston, where restoring hurricane-damaged property is part of their business. They even provide board-up services in advance of storms. Mascari and Smith both purchase their barcode nameplates from Metalcraft at the recommendation of the franchisor. The Iowa-based manufacturer of durable barcode labels and nameplates has been supporting asset tracking applications since 1950. "Metalcraft has the right products for my equipment and great customer service," said Smith, who has mechanically fastened barcodes to his plastic equipment. "We use rivets to hold some of them in place; it's most definitely worth the effort."

Result: dependable visibility for cleaning equipment

For Smith, Mascari and other ServiceMaster Clean franchisees, adoption of MSM and use of Metalcraft barcodes has resulted in increased productivity and reduced administrative burdens. Equipment is visible and easy to locate. "We have 100 percent tracking now," says Smith. "We know what is where." Mascari's use of MSM, supported by a warehouse manager, means his more than 800 assets are easily located. He can more confidently place equipment on job sites for extended periods, saving money. He is investing in Wi-Fi connections between his handheld scanners, trucks and MSM servers, too. "We have minimal equipment losses annually now," Mascari said. "It's very easy and has been very smooth so far."