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Cylinder Tracking As A Selling Point

So many cylinders, so little time.Today was quite possibly one of the single most educational days since I have been writing about the gases and welding industry. Several of us here at Welding & Gases Today journeyed over to GAWDA member Haun Welding Supply, located in Syracuse, NY, where Wayne Brownson led us on a nearly two-and-a-half hour tour. (There was just that much to see!) This was the first time I had been to a fill plant, and I came away very impressed with what I saw.

Haun Welding Supply is in the process of building a new state-of-the-art, automated fill plant at their headquarters—I can’t wait to check it out when it’s finished. While we were talking cylinders, I asked him about their cylinder tracking. Wayne’s eyes lit up as he told me that I was looking at “the original cylinder tracker.”

The company tracked cylinders from very early on using a card filing system, before the system went computerized in 1979. At that point, cylinder serial numbers were entered by hand. By 1991, Haun was using bar code tracking, which helped to eliminate the occasional typographical error. Only a few years later, around 1994, they adopted RFID tracking, and have continuously honed their methods ever since.

Apart from the obvious benefits—losing fewer cylinders and creating customer accountability—Wayne explained an additional benefit I had never thought of: cylinder tracking as a selling point. He told us of one specific example of when he convinced a customer to use Haun’s gases for a large construction project because they could track the cylinders. The customer bought in, and when the project was done, 20 cylinders were still missing.

Little by little, more than a dozen were returned by individuals, some who didn’t know where they came from. Without tracking, Haun would never have known the cylinders were from that customer’s project. The customer didn’t know what to do when they received a credit for the returned cylinders—they were so used to being billed by other companies instead of credited.

Talk about leaving a good impression. Not only did cylinder tracking add value on a service level, it literally saved the customer money. You know that customer is going to come back to do repeat business.

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