ERLANGER, Ky.-When setting out to computerize his Erlanger retreading plant to paperless operation about 18 months ago, Bob Sumerel, owner of Bob Sumerel Tire Co., had several objectives in mind. Whatever system was installed would have to: eliminate the need for paperwork, improve customer service and increase operating efficiency, while reducing costly mistakes.
The result of Mr. Sumerel's $100,000 investment is the TireTrac 2000TT, a system using bar code labels in combination with durable, hand-held computers.
Developed by Barcoded Management Systems of Centerville, Ohio, the system also is designed for maximum ease of operation.
``We love it,'' said Mr. Sumerel of the computer set-up-which he predicts will serve as a model for a more extensive tire identification system under development by the firm's materials supplier, Bandag Inc.
In researching an article for the American Retreaders Association's Tire Retreading/Repair Journal, ARA Executive Director Marvin Bozarth toured the the Sumerel Tire plant, asking employees about the tire-tracking system. ``To a man, every one of them was enthusiastic,'' he said.
The company uses the hand-held computers to record all work performed on a tire at every stage of the repair or retreading process.
Information recorded in the field using the hand-held units is downloaded to the company's main computer every evening. This makes it possible to report the status of a customer's tire whenever requested.
But the system yields considerably more information as well, Mr. Sumerel pointed out.
Thanks to its new tracking system, he said, the company is now able to tell the fleet owner his tire rejection and adjustment rates in terms of tire size, brand, age ``or just about any way the customer wants it.''