IN THE KNOW: A2B Tracking Solutions founder, CEO and President Peter M. Collins has built a company that uses bar codes and digital technology to help the U.S. military and civilian clients keep track of millions of assets from its Portsmouth home.
The U.S. military manages 30 million critical assets every year, from tool cribs in Washington, D.C.'s Navy Yard to Humvees rolling through the mountains of Afghanistan. Keeping track of this material is nothing short of a logistical nightmare.
"This problem has become basically the 100-pound gorilla in the military that's weighing down budgets," said Peter M. Collins, founder, CEO and president of A2B Tracking Solutions Inc. in Portsmouth. "Maintenance of equipment costs billions and billions of dollars."
That's where A2B Tracking Solutions comes in.
The company, which has been operating for 22 years, works with all branches of the U.S. military, and its suppliers and contractors to register and track supplies using bar codes, microchips and cloud-based software. To simplify, instead of manually tracking inventory with a clipboard and stubby pencil, everything is monitored digitally using advanced technologies, allowing for full traceability as products move throughout the supply chain and between different facilities. To date, A2B Tracking's software has registered about 25 percent of all U.S. military assets.
Collins said this software saves the military $3 billion to $5 billion every year. Staff members don't need to waste valuable time manually tracking inventory or hunting for missing products, and the military doesn't waste money replacing lost supplies.
"What might take 30 days to do manually, you can do in a single day with our technology," Collins said.
The innovation also improves readiness and effectiveness. The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps can't conduct missions if they're missing critical supplies.
"There's this continuous logistics need to know what you have, where it is and is it ready to go," Collins said. "[With A2B Tracking] the military can get better insight to deploy and be effective when they go out into harm's way."
At the heart of A2B Tracking's offerings is its UC! Web cloud-based tracking system, launched in 2013. The system uses bar codes to identify, track and report assets. In 2016, it also incorporated the use of Radio-Frequency Identification, or RFID. Scanning using RFID tags is 15 times faster than with bar codes, and it also allows for better accuracy, more precise scanning and a greater amount of information. UC! Web also works on mobile computers, tablets and smartphones.
Collins said the company is experiencing solid double-digit growth year over year. Part of the reason for its success is not just its innovative product, but its long history of work with the military.
In 2004, the Pentagon called on A2B Tracking as an industry expert to help shape its policy on managing assets. The fact that A2B Tracking's technology is military-grade and can be used in the harshest of environments is another factor that sets it apart from competitors.
"It's really where our specialization comes in," Collins said. "Our competitors don't support the military to the extent that we do."
It's not just the military that uses the UC! Web software, though. A2B Tracking also works with colleges and universities, as well as businesses that lease or rent equipment.
"We deal with those that manage everything from 2,000 items inside their own custody up to many millions," Collins said. "Everybody has this problem, but we scale [our technology] depending on the kind of environment we're getting brought into."
Moving forward, Collins will continue investing to drive greater growth. He said A2B Tracking plans to increase support to the software engineering, industrial engineering, and sales and business development areas of the company in the future. •