Software giving companies better control over tank cleaning operations

April 4, 2017
TANK wash facilities need to collect data quickly and efficiently to better control operations, including tracking fleet and customer wash tickets by unit and wash rack, integrating to accounting and dispatch applications, and tracking wash bay costs for analysis, according to Sergio Ramirez, solutions engineer for TMW Systems.

TANK wash facilities need to collect data quickly and efficiently to better control operations, including tracking fleet and customer wash tickets by unit and wash rack, integrating to accounting and dispatch applications, and tracking wash bay costs for analysis, according to Sergio Ramirez, solutions engineer for TMW Systems.

Speaking during National Tank Truck Carriers’ 2016 Tank Truck Week, Ramirez said the tracking requirements include:

•  Identifying what cleaning actions must be performed for specific commodities. What type of conditions do you have to do with certain commodities? What is it that you’re hauling?

•  Tracking what cleaning processes were performed in which wash bay, and the time taken for each.

•  Producing a cleaning certificate indicating what cleaning processes were performed on a vehicle. “What does that cleaning certificate look like? It’s never one standard certificate. Sometimes you just need a printed repair order.”

•  Historically tracking when and what cleaning processes were performed on which vehicles. “What are we using to clean the vehicle with what has been going in and out of it? Especially when talking about kosher units.”

•  Expensing and/or billing-out (and invoicing) specific wash processes at a variety of charge-out rates.

•  Easily and quickly recording the information without massive or complicated clerical efforts.

•  Capturing information to provide reporting for state and federal governmental oversight agencies.

•  Interfacing transaction data into your G/L, accounts receivable, or accounts payable.

•  Scheduling and predicting required recurring cleaning activities on specific vehicles.

•  Collecting and tracking heel from each wash and the barrel number it was collected in.

He said TMW’s TMT-AMS platform has some proposed benefits, including: control over employees’ work schedules, activities, and costs; identifying wash types, sales, margins, cost of goods sold, and frequencies; planning, scheduling, and viewing wash orders in different stages; managing inventories if required, and accounting for fees and services; controlling internal and external customers with a variety of options; and providing checklists, SSRS reports, images, and detailed instructions.

He said it can be accomplished with software through touch screen technology that provides simple, easy, and accurate data capture. There are two methods:

•  Method I. Wash tickets are created by the shop planner or the dispatcher and can be assigned to the wash bay.

•  Method II. Wash tickets are created by wash bay technicians at the time that cleaning is required.

“The main difference is that when techs do the work themselves, it is a much more straightforward process,” Ramirez said.

The default screen includes the company, its customers, employees, parts shop inventory, the assets that are going to be cleaned, and the accounting systems that are involved.

The POS Shop Scheduler sets the workload.

“If we’re looking at this from a retail perspective, we want to be able to schedule items into it,” Ramirez said. “You might have different wash bays for tankers, tractors, trailers. So we can actually schedule these in. You only have so many hours in the day, and maybe your tank wash only operates in certain hours of the day.”

He said the Shop Planner is for generating and managing open orders.

“We can actually schedule repairs that need to be done,” he said. “Or wash tickets. And actually track what is being done and who is working on it. Dispatchers can generate orders and apply previous commodities hauled and the next planned load to determine the type of wash operation required.”

On the interactive work station, technicians log in to work. It tracks each wash technician for the payroll timecard.

Technicians click on an assignment. Each unit is tracked into the wash bay, and there is time tracking for the length of the wash. A tank wash order is created. Header information includes unit information, repair details, meter readings, and scheduling. Component codes correspond to the types of washes or services. After that, complaint codes and reason codes are applied.

“You can use this for accounting purposes,” he said. “Was it related to an accident? Was it related to other conditions?”

When orders are created, templates can be utilized for easier order creation, plus instructions, parts, services, and fees. Orders can be selected by various filters, newly created or listed in the queue.

Techs can input additional fees or charges. The RO section includes specific details regarding the order activities and those items to complete the required tasks. Images can be included by management when creating orders or by techs using a camera. Images, instructions, or documents can be included by dispatch or management when editing, creating, completing orders, or by wash techs using a camera. Images help document issues and can also be used for providing technical documents or instructions for wash techs.        

Additional fees or charges can be made based on a specific fixed rate—non-inventory-related items. Specific additional services can be added by techs or management with user-defined categories as needed. Technicians can requisition specific materials or parts.

He said detailed check-off lists can be created for any type of service provided. Electronic date time stamps are generated by techs using a touch screen or tablet for recording all of the required information. Additional details can be included in each line.

On the work card, the wash orders can be printed for operators to use as a guide, if paper is still required or desired for operations, including checklists and a diagnostic definition that can be associated to a type of service.

Management can close or complete orders to generate invoices or simply close out transactions. Order details can be audited prior to final completion. Invoices are user-definable and can be created using Crystal Reports or SSRS for a specific design. An unlimited number of pricing tables are possible to meet unique requirements.

Customers can have individual pricing tables, conditional rates for other equipment, sites and grades. Invoicing parameters can be input for credit, terms, payment methods, and unit profiles.

Employees can have different roles assigned, tasks, authorities, skill sets and tools, just to identify a few different options, along with images and documents.

Unit profiles can contain a wide range of information for tracking details related to wash bay activities, maintenance, costs, interfaces to finance, mobile communications, dispatch applications and identification parameters.

Parts can be used for charging out specific types of services, fees or other related expenses. Inventory items can also be charged out for items such as seals, gaskets, or hoses. An unlimited number of price types can be created and associated with price tables.

How do you get operations involved?

“This is the biggest thing,” he said. “A lot of times this could be dictated from the dispatch folks. The dispatch folks know what it was carrying before it went into the wash and they’re going to know what it’s going to be hauling when it goes out. That’s going to dictate what type of wash we need. Maybe I’m hauling brine and I’m going to haul brine again. Or I’m hauling something where I need to do a full detailed sanitization and get it ready. I can generate wash certificates and email them out. I can hand it to the driver and make the driver sign it, or it can be electronically signed.”    ♦