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RFID Helps U.K. Tool-Rental Company Better Serve Customers

Speedy Services' on-site solution provides continuous access to equipment, to meet work crew schedules.
By Bob Violino
Jul 09, 2012Speedy Services, a U.K provider of equipment rental and support services to the construction, infrastructure, rail and industrial sectors, faced a problem. Although customers can have equipment delivered to their sites—Speedy maintains a fleet of 1,200 vehicles—or collect the equipment from one of the firm's 320 nationwide depots, some of its clients wanted a more specialized level of service: an on-site depot offering flexible hours to accommodate their work crews' schedules.

Some of these clients included the United Kingdom's largest construction and industrial services companies, and Speedy knew it had to meet their demands or risk losing them as customers. But providing such a service would require a delivery van containing a large stock of tools and equipment, as well as a Speedy employee dispatched to each customer's site to conduct transactions. That amounted to a costly service, says Glyn Matthews, Speedy's senior IT project manager.


Speedy's managers envisioned a mobile equipment "pod" that could be installed within a standard Euro shipping container, or in a preexisting building.
In September 2010, Speedy began seeking a better method of serving customers on-site. Managers believed that if they could create a self-service equipment storage and rental system, it would be a cost-effective way to provide the continuous access that clients needed to meet work crew requirements. It would also enable Speedy to service clients lacking geographical access to its depots.

Speedy's managers envisioned a mobile equipment "pod" that could be installed within a standard Euro shipping container, or in a preexisting building. Such a solution would require an automatic method for tracking equipment and managing rental fees. The managers had read case studies about the use of RFID in other industries, and thought the technology might be a viable option.

While developing the concept, they thought damaged items could be placed within a designated area, and the RFID system could automatically notify Speedy when the tools required replacement. They also hoped to develop an extranet, dubbed "My Speedy," to offer customers complete visibility into their current usage of equipment and incurred charges. "Customers would also benefit by paying rental fees only when the equipment is actually in use, reducing their costs," Matthews explains.

The extranet could benefit Speedy as well. By having all transactions instantly visible to customers via My Speedy, it would reduce paperwork and customer service calls related to deliveries and charges. There was another potential benefit to the self-service solution, the company notes: it would require fewer equipment drops at each site, thereby reducing delivery fleet mileage. And that, in turn, would help to keep CO2 emissions in line with the company's ongoing commitment to improving the environment.
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