October 23, 2005
Evolution from "the paper to the pad"........
This product has been around for centuries. From the beginning of Teph Seal in 1979 to November 2010 we used our fair share of paper. In 2005 with 250 locations at the time each location could FAX at least 10 to 20 pages of billing, and payroll to the Orlando Office. And, several pages per location would be faxed to RVP's, and District Managers. That would equate to over 4,000 pages. Per week. FAX machines were burning up on a daily basis. All invoices for billing, and payroll would have to be hand keyed in our billing and payroll systems.
2016 iPad Mini4
The First Mobile Device. The first device would be a rugged Psion Workabout Pro G1. This device had been proven to operate in some harsh environments. We had water, cold, heat, grease, and chemicals. So, we ordered seven devices to get us started. They scanned the VIN number using a laser beam, and it worked quite well. We would connect with Ethernet, or an AT&T SIM card.
The evolution began. We decided to design a software operating system that would operate on a mobile device with synchronization capabilities. A device that would scan, and capture the VIN number. The program would not work using a web based system because this would require a continuous on line connection. Teph Seal has a lot of remote locations. We began interviewing software companies to take on the task. The task would be to turn our cumbersome paper system into a computerized billing, and payroll system. The issue of paper billing, and writing down the wrong VIN number had to end. So, we started the long journey of explaining how our business worked to a team of programmers that had never seen a detail shop. They had no clue that companies actually performed automotive details for other companies.
The First Location. The very first location was Grayson BMW in Knoxville, Tennessee. At the very beginning some will remember in 2006 that syncs could take 30 to 45 minutes. However, the system completely eliminated the paper pile up except for printing out an invoice for our customer. We used a very small mobile Bluetooth enabled printer. This printer is actually being used today. The old paper system at this location would take our Manager about 45 minutes to an hour to do payroll, and billing for our customer. That first day of our new technology we printed out the invoices in just a few minutes, and the payroll/time clock information was automatic. All data was syncing to our website for all to view.
G2 to G3 devices. At this point we had two years of software upgrades and new features under our belt. By the end of 2010 we had successfully converted 250 locations from "the paper" to the handheld scanner. The G2, and then the G3 was introduced during this period. The G3 introduced a 2D imager that allowed us to scan GM QR (quick Response) codes. We developed a parent/child system that allowed us to program several customer account numbers on the same device. This would separate the billing between customers.
June 2008 to October 2010
Omnii RT15 and XT15. Psion was sold to Motorola, and within 6 months Zebra bought Motorola. As companies and technology evolve so would Teph Seal. One of the great features of this device RT15 and XT15 is Wi-Fi. This opened the door to a lot of flexibility to how we would get our devices connected to the internet. We had Ethernet, AT&T, and now Wi-Fi.
"the Pad". Well which brings us to the iPad. Apple had obviously come on strong in the past years and we took notice. We all had iPhones which made us experienced operators. Yea right! The cost of the rugged handheld scanners had gotten out of hand. At this point the company had grown to over 300 locations with 350 customer numbers. We began converting our Windows CE program to IOS. A lot of decisions had to made. We decided on the Mini4 iPad and our connection would be T-Mobile. This would keep us continuously connected. The continuous connection would allow automatic syncs after submitting an invoice. And, will lead us to automatic syncs in the background without interruption to the user. The camera feature will be used to scan the VIN. We will be using a rugged case from Otter Box. Remember the water, cold, heat, grease, and chemicals. The printer would change to a Brother Laser printer. The small ink guzzling printer we mentioned above would finally fad away. The ink savings alone would be easy to justify. Plus the Laser printer is one-third the cost of the old printer.
January 1, 2017 Happy New Year
"the end" At this point the company has grown to over 350 locations with over 438 customer account numbers. We have launched 130 iPads, and half of that number are new locations in newly created regions. We only have about 220 to go to complete the conversion, and it will probably be more before we finish. New ideas will continue progressing our technology forward. The software that is currently being used has evolved from Teph Seal employees, and our customers. We want to push our programming to suit our customers. They make a request of how they would like things to be, and we make it happen. And, we are not done yet.
This evolution has been evolving for Eleven years. It will never stop evolving.
We have come a long way!
"This summary was written, and presented for the education of all our new employees, and for the old ones that forgot."
May 23, 2016
The First Location. The first location the Omnii XT15 was replaced with an iPad was Thornton Road Hyundai in Lithia Springs Georgia. In the past Hyundai was a manufacturer that was very difficult to scan with the Omnii. It forced us to manually input more than 40% of the vehicles. The iPad using the camera feature will reduced that down hopefully to 0%. We will continue to move technology forward. The screen is larger, and users find it's operation very easy. It is the same program just a different look. As time roles on the view will also evolve.