EPA’s Pesticide Container and Containment Regulations created a lot of anxiety and uncertainty in the ag distribution world when they went into effect in August of 2011. Like any new wave of regulation that’s plopped on top of a system so engrained in day to day business, bringing mini-bulk and IBC containers into compliance with the rules would require new tools and processes.
Some 18 months into new rules, inspections and enforcement will be coming to ag distribution facilities in earnest through 2013 and beyond. And one company that has been working hard to get distributors and retailers over this challenging regulatory bump is AGinfoDATA.
The MN-based company has been involved in container tracking solutions since the mid to late-2000s, but over the past two years has been specifically focused on the new container regulations. It has succeeded with a combination of responsive customer service and flexible software solutions to meet the needs of any retailer or distributor.
[Webinar On Demand: Mini Bulk / IBC Container Compliance and Recycling: Best Practices from TPSA]
“We’ve dedicated ourselves to being a trusted source on EPA best practices and emerging technologies,” said Kent Fiebelkorn, president of AGinfoDATA. “We have focused on providing best of breed, Web-based technology from EPA compliance tracking solutions to warehouse management/inventory management solutions utilizing barcode scanning technologies, as well as best practices in EPA compliance education services to the ag industry.”
Education and access to expertise are table stakes for AGinfoDATA with regulatory compliance. Through its own internal expertise and access to regulatory officials at EPA, the company is able to bring clarity to complex regulations for retailers and distributors. It has also been actively providing educational opportunities through the medium of webinars. From June 2011 through the first quarter of 2013, AGinfoDATA has hosted more than 20 webinars for the distribution channel to promote understanding and interpretation of the regulations.
Jeff Doll, equipment sales and marketing manager at Winfield Equipment, a strategic partner with AGinfoDATA and a reseller of the company’s products and services, says that AGinfoDATA has filled a void in the industry. “They are able to offer the expertise and products that are needed for our customers to become compliant,” says Doll.
Labels And Tracking
AGinfoDATA’s services range from the basic to the intense when it comes to container compliance. For example, Val Stopher, procurement analyst for J. R. Simplot, says the company has been using AGinfoDATA as its supplier for compliant labels and tamper-resistant safety ties. “A lot of the labeling that we are putting on containers today as far as anything we are repackaging, AGinfoDATA has been supplying the labels and doing a great job,” says Stopher. Overnight printing and delivery of orders is also a key benefit.
“They have also sent out information several times on the different labeling guides and how to use them, which we share with employees,” notes Stopher.
Next up on the scale of offerings is trax360, a subscription based software solution that allows the user to easily label and track any bulk or mobile asset with barcode labels and scanning equipment provided by the company.
The software continuously tracks the status of warehouse assets from minibulk containers to chemical pumps and other valuable assets that must leave the facility. This is in addition to recording and reporting on any activity related to barcoded equipment, such as when and where tanks are filled and the product it contains.
MFA Inc. has been using the tank tracking capabilities at its main warehouses for about 18 months, and Jason Paris has been pleased with the results so far. “When my warehouses are not complaining, it’s a good thing,” he says.
In particular, Paris is using the system to track expensive stainless steel shuttles. “We want to know where each and every one of those is so we know where we have to pick it up,” he says.
Paris expects the reporting mechanism that triggers a warning when a tank needs to be taken out of service based on the EPA regulations will make staying compliant much simpler.
One company that has been using the whole breadth of AGinfoDATA’s offerings is Minnesota-based WCI, one of the earliest customers of the program. “We use it for inventory of properties, tracking the assets out to the customer and back, and really the entire history of what’s been done to the tank,” says Dennis Setzephandt, bulk manager for the distributor. “It pretty much covers all our liabilities and provides full documentation.”
WCI has deployed the system at all of its four fill stations where repackaging takes place, and at all loading docks where products ship out. “It records the bill of lading, the type of asset and the product it contains, and it pretty much handles any of our containers, including propane,” says Setzephandt.
One of the key benefits for WCI has been controlling liability and risk. “I can definitely say that having all the documentation has saved us quite a few times over the years.”
Finally, Setzephandt says it allows him to be proactive and accurate in retrieving products recalled by manufacturers. “We can reach out to customers if a manufacturer would decide for any reason to recall a product, and tell them not to touch it, or if they did to document exactly what they did with it and to stop using it,” he notes.
Beyond regulatory and inventory management concerns, distribution professionals are telling AGinfoDATA that there is a critical need for telemetry solutions, including better dispatching, fleet and asset management, and remote inventory monitoring to keep up with ever moving people and resources.
“Therefore, identifying a straight forward yet robust solution to meet these needs across the fuel, grain and agronomy departments for our cooperative customers has been a strategic focus for us as well,” notes Fiebelkorn.
For more information, visit the Website at www.aginformationdata.com.