Bar Coding Eases Invoicing Headaches

Using bar codes to track hazardous waste via computer can be an essential supplement to your software system. Dale Zinkgraf of Computrak Data Systems Inc., Minneapolis, said bar coding can help a hauler to:

* track waste from pickup to destruction;

* give customers a detailed invoice with the number of containers and pickup and incineration dates; and

* save money and time on invoicing.

Containers are tracked from the pickup point by serial numbers that provide proof that each container has been properly des-troyed. Customers are not billed until every container reaches the incinerator. Invoices list serial numbers and weights so customers can preweigh containers to ensure the hauler has properly recorded them.

"Not only does it provide legal coverage, but it allows a lot of checks and balances," said Bob Engelking of Environmental Solutions, a Minneapolis-based disposer of medical waste. "The customer has control over the system because they put the serial numbers on boxes themselves."

Engelking said the system saves him both time and money while providing more information to the customer. Before software implementation, employees were sending out 1,000 hand-typed invoices a month - a complex process that took three weeks he said. Since bar coding, the invoicing staff reportedly has been reduced by 50 percent.

Salespeople also are allowed more flexibility. "We've designed a system that can handle virtually every combination of pricing for each individual client," explained Zinkgraf. "For example, if customer A will be charged a consistent 50 cents a pound and customer B will be charged 30 cents a pound for the first 100 pounds and 10 cents thereafter, it's possible to track."