Upgrade Your Hardware
Using obsolete hardware and operating systems is not doing your business any favors. Updating a few of the machines your operations are built on - scale house PCs and printers, especially - can cut the time spent on daily tasks in half, which means big gains in productivity and revenue. Let's start by looking at your computers' operating systems.
Upgrade All PCs to Windows 10
Microsoft Windows continues to be the top operating system in our industry, and Windows 10 has been available since 2015. If your business is still operating on older versions of Windows 7, Vista, or even Windows XP, now is the time to evaluate the high level of risk involved with using outdated systems.
Running older operating systems at your pits can actually cost you time and money. Not only are they slower and prone to system failure, but they also increase your risk of malware infection and catastrophic data loss. Your scale house is ground zero for your business operations, so why expose your computers to unnecessary risk? Embrace change, make the leap, and upgrade your OS. If cost is an issue, research options for upgrading the PCs you already have. In some cases, you can still get Windows 10 for free.
Establish an Internet Connection at Your Scale Houses
We realize that ultra-fast broadband connections aren't always feasible in a rural bulk material plant, but you don't need a powerful connection to keep your ticketing data safe. If you can use a mobile phone at your scale house, you can set up a simple mobile WiFi hot spot for your PCs to connect to. Typically, ticketing data packets are so small, it should only take a few minutes at the end of each shift to back up your sales data to a cloud storage database of some kind (or even better, a cloud-based scale management system - we'll get to that in a moment). Make it happen. The next time you have a lightning storm and your scale house PC is toast, you'll be relieved to find that your sales data from the past week wasn't wiped out.
Dump Your Dot Matrix Printers
Dot matrix printers were invented in the 1950s. At this point, these printers are inefficient, difficult to maintain, and require expensive supplies that have become increasingly harder to find. Worse, they are often incompatible with newer programs and operating systems. It's time to sell or recycle your dot matrix printers and buy a LaserJet. Rather than dealing with the hassle of a specialized ticket size and format, consider using a standard 8.5" x 11" perforated ticketing paper (2, 3, or 4-part). Perforated paper is readily available from most suppliers and is much less expensive than carbon matrix paper.
Clean Out Unnecessary Wires & Outdated Hardware
Are your scale houses jam-packed with cables, monitors, PC towers, modems you don't need anymore, printers, and documents accumulated over the past 10+ years? Time to visit your local electronics recycling center.
Keep what you actually need, toss what you don't, and make room for a better way to run your operations. Let's move on to Step 2.