An App That Improves Equipment Asset Management

Keeping track of tool use among its employees was sometimes difficult until Thompson Family Plumbing & Rooter adopted the ONE-KEY app from Milwaukee Tool

An App That Improves Equipment Asset Management

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Embracing new technology that improves operating efficiencies and profitability has played a large role in the growth of Thompson Family Plumbing & Rooter of Hesperia, California, since its inception in 2013. A good example is the ONE-KEY app from Milwaukee Tool, an equipment- and tool-management system that helps the company determine where tools are and which technicians are using them.

“It’s a revolutionary and unsung product, way ahead of its time,” says Devynn Thompson, who co-owns the business with her husband, John Thompson. “And the app is absolutely free. It’s a great product for streamlining and automating your business.”

The system uses geofencing technology — essentially software that utilizes GPS or radio-frequency identification to define virtual geographical boundaries — and a small, low-profile Bluetooth tracker called a TICK to track tools. The TICK is weather-resistant and can be either glued, screwed, riveted or strapped on a tool. (TICKs are available for as little as $19 at home centers and plumbing suppliers).

Thompson Family Plumbing started using the ONE-KEY system about two years ago, and it instantly proved to be game-changing technology. “We had issues with not knowing where equipment was,” Devynn says. “Employees weren’t checking things in and out, which was creating headaches.

“I was losing my mind trying to track down things like inspection cameras, minijetters, our Warrior trailer jetter (Spartan Tool) and so forth. I would have to go through invoices trying to piece it all together, like a sleuth. As a business owner, you don’t have time to do that. You need to be working on your business, not micromanaging your business.”

But ONE-KEY changed all that. Now all Devynn has to do is call up the app on her cellphone and she knows the location of, say, the Warrior jetter and who is using it. It also records tool-utilization data and provides maintenance alerts. And it’s all paperless.

“That’s all important because some of these tools are very expensive assets,” she says.

Moreover, if a tool gets lost or stolen, its serial number and maintenance logs are stored in the ONE-KEY system, which makes it easier to file insurance claims.

Devynn says the app can even be used to designate a particular tool as stolen. And if other contractors are using the ONE-KEY system, they’ll get a notification if the stolen tool shows up on their job sites (as long as it’s within 100 feet of their cellphone or tablet). “It’s amazing technology,” Devynn says.

As for the cost and return on investment, Devynn says a roughly $20 TICK is a small price to pay to ensure tools are trackable. “A lot of contractors will say that’s too much money,” she says. “But can you really afford to lose a $20,000 inspection camera because you didn’t want to spend $20?”


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