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Cleveland Industrial Recycling Putting Our Rugged Tracking Labels to the Test with their Heavy Equipment

Cleveland Industrial Recycling leverages BitRip FREE mobile app, Desktop Pro, and BR CodeTM scannable labels from Duck Pro® by Shurtape® in electrical transformer oil recycling process.

QR Code labels tracking heavy industrial equipment
BR Code™ Scannable Labels stuck to Generator Bushings


When you think about essential services, electrical providers may come to mind. However, you don’t think of the people who respond to collect a blown transformer and then reclaim and recycle these critical components that help power your home or business. That’s exactly what Cleveland Industrial Recycling does, among other things.


The process of heading to an electrical substation that houses one or more blown transformers and getting it to a recycling facility is straightforward, yet it’s a crucial component in electrical delivery. Servicing nearly 10,000 substations throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, New Jersey, and beyond, Cleveland Industrial Recycling (CIR) works with several large energy companies and has built a reputation for safely and efficiently removing, replacing, and recycling heavy industrial and electrical equipment.

Moving Heavy Industrial Equipment
Cleveland Industrial Recycling Moving Heavy Industrial Equipment


The company’s Operations Manager, Corey Herbert, aims to keep these processes running smoothly from start to finish. He supervises two high-voltage crews and teams that process 10,000 blown transformers at any given moment, runs the scrapyard, and oversees myriad other responsibilities.


Transforming Transformers

CIR collects the transformers for scrap, but the bushings on each transformer include oils that require special handling. These bushings, which look like long stacks of discs attached to wires and sticking out of the transformer are typically made from porcelain and are a critical component, providing insulation, conduction, and other essential roles in the reliability of electrical power transmission.

The bushings CIR typically handles are 2-12 feet long, weigh up to 2,800 lbs., and contain 1.5-3 gallons of oil. The Environmental Protection Agency mandates that this bushing oil is recycled, but since some oils contain toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), all bushing oils need to be tested before recycling, and PCB-containing oils need to be processed using specialized systems and equipment.


At CIR’s 74-acre recycling facility, in Ashtabula, OH, the staff opens the bushings and pulls an oil sample, which is then sealed in 20-milliliter vials. The vials are transported about 100 miles south to Hydrodec North America LLC, in Canton for testing. A key partner of CIR, Hydrodec uses proprietary technology to re-refine used and contaminated waste oil creating SUPERFINE™ transformer oil and naphthenic base oil.


CIR recycles PCB-free oil onsite at its Ashtabula facility, and they put PCB-containing oil in a sealed waste container with a hazardous waste manifest and transport it by truck to Hydrodec for processing. The bushing housing is then fully recycled.


Seeking – and Finding – a Simple Solution

In 2023, Herbert’s boss asked him to find a way of showing energy companies and government regulators that they could efficiently and accurately track the PCB oil reclamation process. The tracking solution would need to be able to attach physical assets (transformer casings, oil sample vials, hazardous waste manifests, etc.) with digital files for accountability.


Establishing this connection would allow CIR to acquire a lucrative new line of work and associated contracts, but the solution needed to be simple, dependable, and affordable. Herbert shared this challenge with his contact at Grainger, who suggested a new, simple, and robust solution: the BitRip® app and the scannable BR CodeTM labels from Duck Pro® by Shurtape®. These rugged tracking labels would be perfect for tracking heavy industrial equipment that face the elements.


BitRip seamlessly tracks any type of physical asset using preprinted, scannable BR Code labels, and each code allows users to store massive amounts of data and tracks every scanned location, unlocking field-level visibility. Retired U.S. Marine, Nick Dimitruk conceived the app and labels in field combat operations and later co-founded the company with Catherine Chapman.


When Herbert first vetted the three-pronged solution that includes BitRip’s free mobile app, its Desktop Pro Plan, and the scannable BR Code labels, he thought he might have found a needle in the proverbial scrapyard. “It was almost too good to be true. I didn't believe it at first,” he said, adding that CIR’s CEO was also extremely excited by the possibilities.


The duo conducted extensive research and peppered the BitRip team with tough questions. The other options they found were QR code-based software programs with annual costs starting at around $5,000 plus high ancillary costs, and they didn’t offer the preprinted label that’s associated with a specific digital file in the cloud.


“BitRip is pretty easy. You stick it on there, you create, you link it,” Herbert said. “The biggest thing is when the truck drivers are out in the field, it doesn't take up much of their time. That was the one thing they were worried about,” he added. Herbert estimated that CIR drivers can tag six bushings in five minutes, and that they’ve voiced little to no concern about integrating the solution.


“It’s Literally Stick, Link, and Go”

However, he explained that the other QR-code based options would have taken much longer than five minutes to label a single bushing, because the drivers would need to print the label, stick it, scan it, and break down the mobile printer and equipment. With a small bit of preplanning Herbert can link a scannable label to the job name, the bushing size, and other essential information before a driver even leaves the facility.


He invested in seven extremely durable Google-based tablets designed for rough and dirty environments and preloaded them with BitRip. He and the team quickly discovered that as robust as the tablets are, the scannable BR Code labels are just as tough, if not tougher.


The first time they used the BitRip and BR Code system was a perfect test. “It was pouring down rain and we stuck them on five different places to see what they'd stick to. Even the ones that we put wet on glass and traveled 60 miles on the back of a truck in the rain didn't come off,” Herbert recalled.

BitRip and Rugged QR Code labels tracking assets such as heavy industrial equipment
BR Code™ Labels Tracking Generator Bushings


Shurtape offers a variety of BR Code labels for a variety of applications, including:


•             FL 227 BR scannable paper tape codes are ideal for indoor use, can be torn at any length and will conform to a range of surfaces and substrates while offering easy removal.

•             PC 627 BR scannable duct tape codes are designed for durable adhesion to multiple surfaces, and are constructed with a waterproof backing, allowing for indoor or outdoor use.

•             PSL BR scannable labels and PXL BR heavy duty scannable labels peel off individually for ease of use while providing quick, easy, and permanent adhesion to a variety of flat surfaces and substrates.


CIR uses yellow PXL BR Duck Pro® by Shurtape® BR Code™ Heavy Duty, Permanent Scannable Labels for the bushings and orange labels  for the testing vials. “Our biggest worry was how well the labels were going to stick to the bushing, and once we figured that out, everything else was good,” Herbert said.


“I'm a guy who picks things apart. I want to know where's the fault, where is the weakness? And honestly, I have literally picked this solution apart and I haven't found one yet,” he added.


Expanding to Other Uses

From the outset of their vetting process, the CIR team envisioned using it to meet other everyday challenges. Now, with the bushing oil tracking solution running smoothly, they’re working to use the BitRip and BR Code system for connecting their roll-off boxes (rolling dumpsters containing scrap) with digital files.


“I have 400 roll off boxes and we have no idea where they're at or what is in them,” Herbert said. Using this solution could allow office staff to get box locations every time the code is scanned, and allow CIR drivers, with a quick scan, to pull up data on the box and its contents. Job planning is another area where he envisions this new solution making things easier and more profitable.


CIR is known for having a small but productive team, and their work can get extremely busy based on seasonal demands. For example, in Pennsylvania in late 2023, they tore down a 710,000-lb transformer that powered the city of New York. “We had it torn down in four days. It was 12 truckloads, and we don't torch those apart. We have to tear them apart because you can’t have sparks because of the oil,” Herbert said.


One of the ways the company can tackle these kinds of projects efficiently while staying competitive and productive is implementing solutions like those offered by BitRip and Shurtape. “Everybody's onboard, and likes this system,” Herbert concluded.

Tracking Assets on the BitRip Dashboard
Cleveland Industrial Recycling Tracking Their Assets on Their LIVE Dashboard

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