Start small and plan to grow
We are often asked if we can supply a Barcode System or if we can Bar code Enable an ERP system (or other business software system).
After asking a few basic questions, we often find that what is actually required is either an inventory control or an asset tracking solution.
These are usually but not always stand-alone systems with no or at most very minimal (simple) integration with other existing business systems.
We refer to these as Point Solutions.
For simplicity our Point Solutions can be categorized into: Basic, Advanced or Very Advanced and typically consists of a small number of common components:
- Barcode (or RFID) scanning / data capture hardware and possibly a label printer along with self adhesive labels or tags
- Software (either simple data capture software and/or backend application or database software along with connection software (middleware).
- Services (Professional and/or Technical services provided directly by Comware or a Comware partner)
If there’s no formal description of the current business processes, our preferred approach to scoping one of these solutions is a structured method which we find most effective.
- Discuss with key personnel the following:
a) what business problem(s) are they trying to solve?
b) have they already imagined a solution that could be used?
c) what is the relative importance of each of the features required?
d) what are the Return On Investment / budgetary considerations?
- Briefly review the existing core business software (or ERP systems) “native” capabilities.
- Identify any “certified” 3rd party products that are available for the existing core business software (or ERP system).
- Briefly review the universal Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) that Comware supports.
- Compare what customer wants with what is available (from 2, 3 & 4 above) and identify feature / function overlaps as well as any gaps.
- Decide if one or more may suit, or if a custom / hybrid application is more appropriate.
- Determine customers capabilities & desire to implement using own in-house resources or if a turn-key solution is more appropriate.
- Outline a Solution Roadmap comprised of either a native, 3rd party or COTS solution; or a custom / hybrid solution, as well as estimated costs for associated hardware, technical and professional services.
Determining the functional & financial requirements is an essential process.
If this can be achieved by a phone call or two plus some desktop research then it is usually considered a pre-sales activity & we don’t charge for it.
However if this can only be achieved with several hours of customer engagement plus additional desktop research; our professional services fees will apply.
If faced with a potentially major, high value project, we do encourage our customers to consider simple, low cost Point Solutions that provide significant benefits in a short time and create a path to success.
Sometimes thinking outside the square can be a suitable way to get started or perhaps even solve the primary problem(s) completely.
- Two way sync of batch data with item look-up
- Two way sync of batch data with MS Excel
- Two way sync of batch data with an existing database (e.g. MS SQL) or a custom application
Below are some examples of data capture solutions that Comware has either developed or enhanced along with the identification methods used:
- Gas cylinder tracking (1D durable barcode)
- Strawberry punnet packer identification (1D / 2D barcode)
- Hay bale origin (1D barcode)
- Product sample tracking (1D barcode)
- Work in progress (1D barcode & HF RFID)
- Document tracking (1D barcode & UHF RFID)
- Quality control system (1D barcode)
- Car park access with pre-paid ticket (1D barcode)
- Freight sorting & tracking (1D / 2D barcode)
- Returnable container (pallets, stillages) tracking (1D durable barcode & UHF RFID)
- Equipment & tool tracking (1D durable barcode & UHF RFID)
- Blood bag labelling & process improvement (LF RFID)
- School Science Project results consolidation (2D barcode)
These solutions often consist of a number of different products that have been identified as the most appropriate and cost effective for a specific data capture problem.
- Pre-printed durable barcode labels combined with a custom database and a mobile barcode terminal running a custom data capture program.
- Fixed barcode scanners on a conveyor capturing barcode data which is recorded in a custom database on a PC 10+ metres away.
Many of our solutions include (where possible) relatively low cost “configurable” products, combined with our extensive experience in order to provide our customers the maximum benefits, for the least cost, in the fastest time possible.