Case Study: Budd Van Lines Moving Forward with TracerPlus

March 28, 2024

Budd Van Lines is a moving company with five regional service centers and world headquarters in Somerset, New Jersey. They handle everything from individual moves to full-scale corporate relocations, in all 48 contiguous states and, via trusted agents, internationally. Having started in 1975 with “two trucks and a dream,” Budd Van Lines has been America’s #1 Independent Carrier for 17 years in a row according to the industry’s Trippel Survey and Research.

Budd Van Lines has achieved this impressive record of customer satisfaction by staying true to principles of personalized service and industry-leading innovation, culminating in its patented Load It Once system—a game changer in the industry. When Budd Van Lines wanted to bring that same spirit of innovation to bear in managing its inventory, Pat Diminico, Budd Van Lines’ VP of Information Technology, went looking for a barcode solution that would work for them.

The Challenge

“We have all sorts of equipment that we provide our drivers on our moving trucks,” says Pat. “Hand trucks, dollies, ramps, blankets, packing tape—you name it.” From the start, Budd Van Lines had been keeping track of these expendable and non-expendable items with a manual check-in and check-out process. Pat wanted to find a faster and more accurate way.

That’s when Business Communications Solutions (BCS) located in Raritan, New Jersey, Budd Van Lines’ solution provider for label and barcode technology, pointed them towards Portable Technology Solutions and TracerPlus.

The TracerPlus Solution

“It was the very customizable nature of TracerPlus,” that made it the clear choice, according to Pat. “That we could work with the PTS team themselves to develop a specific portion within the app to create workflow and processes, and the fact that PTS offered a cloud-based solution.” The data centralization afforded by the PTS Cloud allows check-in/check-out information to be shared by all of Budd Van Lines’ warehouses—a qualitative leap forward from the days when each warehouse’s paper records were entered into individual Excel spreadsheets, and a feature that would inspire the company to expand the way it uses TracerPlus.

Implementation and Integration

“The kickoff point for the TracerPlus solution for our project was when PTS developed a check-in/check-out portion of an app within TracerPlus for our specific needs, says Pat. With BCS’s support, Budd Van Lines tested various devices to find the right ones for their barcode-scanning and data-entry needs. The company chose the Zebra M3300 as the scanning device, while they adopted Samsung Android tablets for another phase of the project. Pat set up all the Zebra scanners with TracerPlus, with the PTS team showing him how to update the TracerPlus apps on the scanners.

Pat and this team shipped TracerPlus-loaded scanners out to each warehouse. They put together a training presentation and went to each of the warehouses to explain the new system and the rationale behind it, “and then,” says Pat, “we started barcoding everything—ladders, hand trucks, dollies, even down to quantity level items,” such as packing tape, for which there was a scannable master code off a menu, with the capability of assigning a given quantity. Once all the data was in the system for scanning, they were ready to go.

Expanded Uses

“To the general managers in each of our five warehouses, this was a new world,” recalls Pat. “It gave us accountability and control over the inventory that we have taking place over our whole organization—not to mention the increased efficiency over the hand-written forms everyone had been used to.”

Inventory proved to be a good place to start to get Budd Van Lines’ employees acclimated to bar-code scanning. Pat started to talk to BCS and the PTS development team about what else the company could do with TracerPlus.

 “We wanted to move into managing the storage of customer belongings that come into our warehouse,” says Pat. This was of particular value for Budd Van Lines’ signature service, their Load It Once System, for customers who need their belongings stored between move-out and move-in. Belongings are placed in sealed containers, which remain sealed when they are unloaded from the truck and placed into storage in one of Budd’s warehouses until it’s time for delivery.

“We want to know the information on each container, what move it’s associated with, and where’s the location within the warehouse,’ says Pat. “So, we worked with the TracerPlus team to develop another, similar check-in/check-out process for loading a container with your belongings.”

What Took Days…Now Takes Minutes

“Does TracerPlus prevent errors? Yes. But most of all, it is a time saver,” says Pat. “Before TracerPlus, if a customer needed access to their stored belongings, it meant going into the warehouse and trying to find out where they were positioned and pulling these containers—which are stacked on top of each other—pulling them down, opening them, and asking ‘Are these related to your belongings?’”

General managers would speak of spending entire weekends trying to find a single item in a vast warehouse. Now, they can look it up in TracerPlus, online from any location, by either the name or the order number and instantly they can know which containers belong to that customer, how many there are, and where they are located in the warehouse. Location takes a minute and the whole process of retrieval can be accomplished with an hour’s work.

“Our business relies on our ability to unload our customers’ belongings from the truck and place them into a container,” says Pat, “so we must know which container and where.”

National Inventory Awareness…for a National Company

As a company servicing the entire U.S. with far-flung warehouses throughout the country, one of the most important capabilities that TracerPlus gives Budd Van Lines is integrated access to inventory data. In the days when Budd’s warehouses maintained inventory by transferring paper records to an Excel spreadsheet, Pat recalls, “Each warehouse was an island to itself.” But now, “any general manager in any warehouse—anywhere in the whole company—can quickly know where to find a given customer’s belongings.”

This is important because a customer may, for example, be living in Wisconsin and planning a move to Georgia. Their container would be taken to Budd Van Line’s Atlanta warehouse. “But,” Pat points out, “our Wisconsin-based customer-service office, which started the job, will retain visibility as to exactly where that customer’s containers are stored. It increases efficiency and, most of all, it’s good for our customers to have peace of mind.”

Finding More Uses for TracerPlus

TracerPlus’s flexibility and ease of configuration means that putting it to new uses is as simple as adding an app to the TracerPlus menu—creating a new menu option instead of needing to turn to a new system or piece of software. Budd Van Lines’ use of TracerPlus continues to evolve, with the company now also using it to perform yard checks of their trucks and trailers. Given the 24-hour nature of their business, says Pat, “a driver may pick up a truck when no one else is there, but now they check it out with TracerPlus…and when they arrive at another warehouse it’s checked back in again. So, we have the history, and we know at a glance where it is.” It’s yet another way that TracerPlus is giving Budd Van Lines inventory visibility throughout the entire company.

Pat finds that general managers are coming up with their ideas of how TracerPlus can increase efficiency and accuracy. He tells how one GM had the idea to integrate customer details with the basic order-number info obtained when scanning a container so that it all can come up at a glance when scanning the barcode for a given container. “Once the people who use the software every day get some experience with it, they can see how it can meet their needs. The ability to fine-tune like that is a sign of TracerPlus’s simplicity and usability.”

Cost Savings and Benefits

How has TracerPlus contributed to the bottom line? In addition to the improvements TracerPlus has brought to the customer experience, Pat reports, “there’s multiple levels of cost savings for us with TracerPlus, one is the example of work hours saved in finding items in the warehouse, and that’s significant. Another is having visibility in terms of where our trucks and trailers are, which gives us instant access to finding them with the information being accurate. And we now have full accountability for managing warehouse inventory, with reduced shrinkage and incredible cost savings.”

In sum, Pat says, “I would recommend TracerPlus to other companies and organizations. Between the platform, the great flexibility, and the ease of use…to me, this was the perfect solution and I would recommend it to anyone.”


Inventory, mobile rfid solutions, TracerPlus, zebra technology

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