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Onsite Mechanic Firm Manages Inventory via RFID

Armored Diesel Repair & Services developed a Smart Trailer that delivers internal benefits and lowers customer downtime and costs.
By Samuel Greengard
Apr 24, 2016

Armored Diesel Repair & Services, in San Antonio, provides mechanic services for the trucking and equipment companies that, in turn, provide services for energy firms operating in Texas' Eagle Ford oil basin. Typically, when a vehicle or massive pump requires repair, it is dropped off at a service facility—sometimes located far away, and often for days or weeks. "We deal with chemical and oil and gas companies that must keep their vehicles and pumps in tip-top shape," says Larry Mueller, Armored Diesel's VP of research and development. "Our value proposition is that we repair and maintain equipment onsite."

In order to execute on its business model, Armored Diesel places large trailers, which store equipment and parts, at customer sites. "Some of these locations are in remote areas, and we have to make sure we have the parts we need onsite," Mueller says. "Otherwise, we wind up with drivers spending hours driving back and forth to grab additional parts."

Armored Diesel Repair & Services' Smart Trailer
After Armored Diesel was formed in 2013, the company's owner, Andrew Hernandez, began seeking a better method of tracking parts and supplies. The company also wanted to be able to identify which parts were being used and by whom, for the purposes of authentication and invoicing. "We couldn't go with a bar-code system," he says, "because parts and supplies get dirty and it wouldn't work correctly."

In 2015, Armored Diesel adopted an RFID inventory-management solution designed to keep the trailers well stocked, and to speed up service and repair for customers. The Smart Trailer solution, which has been deployed at one customer site, has reduced truck and pump downtime by 20 to 40 hours per month (the value of one hour of downtime equals more than a $1,000 for these chemical firms, Mueller explains). In addition, the system is helping Armored Diesel to trim internal costs and operate in a more agile and flexible manner. The firm now sees fewer inventory and ordering errors, he says, and mechanics in the field are far more efficient and productive.

Getting Into Gear
In February 2014, Armored Diesel turned to Chicago-based RFID reseller Netoria Technologies (recommended to Mueller by a coworker at a previous job) and Dubai-based DominateRFID, which has an office in Duluth, Ga., to serve as consultants on the inventory-management project. Mueller worked with a colleague to sort through all the issues and develop a strategy.

Armored Diesel wanted to develop a system that could track inventory within a trailer and record who checked out which parts—and transmit that data to the company's warehouse. "The goal from the start," Mueller says, "was to introduce a system that's as easy to use as scanning items at a Home Depot store."

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