Staying up-to-date in the technology aspect of the industry is one of the reasons the Cline Tool and Services Co. stays ahead of the game.
As such, Cline was recently named AutoCrib Inc.’s premier distributor for 2013.
Cline works with AutoCrib to supply companies with automatic dispersal systems, similar to vending machines, for its parts and tools. These machines can disperse everything from wrenches to gloves.
Cline Tool President and CEO Jim Long said the new technology allows management of companies to get a better understanding of where their supplies go.
“It’s pretty cool technology,” Long said. “(What is happening is) for people sitting in the corner office, now all of a sudden they have access to this data. They are able to understand, they are able to look (at their company), see who is spending the money, where is all this stuff going (and it helps) give them the opportunity to control cost much better.”
He said the old way of checking out tools proved to be less efficient.
“The way their tools and supplies in the factory used to be delivered is that (if) a guy needed something, he (would) walk over to a central tool crib,” Long said. “There would be a tool attendant, and he would check it (the item) out and fill out the forms, and he (the tool attendant) would give him what he needed.”
“Now the employee walks up with their employee card, they swipe it, and now the machine knows what department they are (from), who they are (and) what they have access to,” Long continued. “Then they say, ‘well, I need this item,’ and pictures will come up and he can pick (what he wants).”
Long also said one of AutoCrib’s machines can hold up to 5,000 items.
“It’s almost like a sandwich machine,” Long said. “It rolls around, the door opens and the guy takes what he needs. We’ve been leaders in this technology. It’s all company based. We can see the (minimum and maximum stock levels). We can see who is taking what. We have vehicles that go out and service all around central Iowa and refill this stuff.”
Being a businessman himself, Long knows the importance of knowing where supplies go.
“They (businesses) knew they spent all sorts of money to make these factories run, but they didn’t know who was using stuff and where it was going,” Long said. “Now they can take and compare (data).”
The information can help show companies who is using what items, with a potentially unlimited market.
Long said the technology is relatively new.
“The technology has been available for about the last 10 years, but what (has) been happening is the cost of the hardware has come down,” Long said. “Now we can do a lot more because of cloud computing. It has made the hardware come down less because you don’t need computers in every piece of equipment. What you need now is basically an internet connection for them.”
What makes Cline’s services so unique is they do not charge vendors for their products until they are physically removed from the machine.
Since Cline has many years of experience using the technology, it has given them a leg up on their competition.
Long said the technology has opened doors to fields in their industry by not only storing items, but seeing where items are.
“We have customers now that put a gauge in,” Long said. “They’ve got a gauge that may cost them $5,000, (and) they go to find it, they don’t know where it’s at in the factory (under the old system).”
He explained the AutoCrib system can show who has the part, if it is checked out, what machine it is in, how many of them are in the facility and if a part or tool is not returned, management will be notified.
He also said the machine can restrict who can gain access to parts and stop items from dispensing if the part is past its expiration date.
“There is a lot of automation that we can do when we set it up,” Long said.
The AutoCrib system program is growing in popularity, and Long said he only expects profits to expand with the new technology.
“I think that within a couple of years, probably better than 50 percent of the product that we sell will go through some kind of automatic system,” Long said.
Staff writer Matthew Shepard may be contacted at (641) 792-3121 ext. 425 or firstname.lastname@example.org