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Tracking Lifting and Rigging Equipment

Kennedy Wire Rope and Sling enlists RFID to improve customer service for a client with global business.
By Barb Freda
Jan 17, 2016

Kennedy Wire Rope and Sling (KWRS), established in 1979 in Corpus Christi, Texas, provides lifting and rigging equipment and systems to construction companies for use in large-scale industrial projects in the United States and other countries. In addition, the firm inspects and certifies the fitness of the materials it sends out into the field—and clients rely on those tests.

One KWRS client (that prefers not to be named) fabricates parts for onshore and offshore construction projects. The client was storing cables, shackles, slings and other parts in containers on job sites, with no reliable system to track and trace those items. Sometimes, it was easier for the client to call KWRS and request a new part than to hunt for the item in the job-site containers.

Wire rope sling storage
"In some cases, a part is worth $10, but other parts are worth $10,000 and more," says Jonathan Cloutet, KWRS' financial manager. If a $10,000 part was sitting at a site ready for use, but no one knew it was there, he says, that was simply an inefficient use of funds.

The client asked KWRS to provide a more efficient method to track and trace its own equipment—comprising more than 6,000 parts—and for the ability to access certification, usage and repair information online. Jeremiah Alspach, KWRS' inside sales manager, was tasked with finding the solution. "We needed to track items where they went, when they went out, who has them and when we get items back," he says.

KWRS also needed a way to store certification information online for the client. When equipment is returned to KWRS, each item is put through a "pull test" to ensure the strength of the load-bearing product. Once the equipment passes that test and is visually inspected, it receives a certificate indicating it is in good working order.

"This client buys products and wants us to store and maintain those pieces of equipment," Cloutet explains. "When they need it in Alaska, for example, we send it. When it comes back to us, we inspect it and store it again until they need it at their next job somewhere else. We track every product for them, hold it in our warehouse on their behalf, make sure it is up to spec and ready to be sent out."

In fall 2014, KWRS adopted an RFID asset- and inspection-management solution from Houston-based InfoChip. "Our customer enjoys using the system," Alspach says. "They are enjoying the cost savings. In less than a year of use, this customer has already saved tens of thousands of dollars."

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