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Warehouse System - Case Study
This bespoke application was written for a London based company who hold and distribute stocks of printed materials and promotional items on behalf of blue chip clients. They have a number of warehouses where goods are delivered, stored, collated and dispatched. There is a web front end for their customers to check stock levels and request items. All items are photographed with a digital camera as they are delivered which helps identification and gives an image for the web site.

Warehouse staff use wireless barcode scanners to move and track items in the warehouses which automatically download their data into the database whenever they are placed in their docking cradles. The system will print barcode stock labels and bar-coded job sheets for packing staff who simply scan a barcode when each stage of a job is complete. This allows office staff and customers to monitor the state of a packing job without the need for PCs and the overhead of data entry in the warehouse.

The Web Interface
Another nice feature of the system is the ability of users to customise the web front end to match the corporate colours and logos of the client and hence provide a more transparent service. The web pages look up their settings from the database depending on who logs on. So for example someone from British Airways logging in to send a box of corporate brochures to their New York office would see the site in red white and blue with BA logos. Someone from Virgin Atlantic while seeing essentially the same layout of information would see the site in red and yellow with Virgin logos.

The software includes a simple to uses tool built into the contact management section of the software for office staff to set this up for each new customer selecting colours from a pallet and adding logos from files.

Some Other Features
Stock items can be held in multiple locations located by warehouse, sector, aisle, bay and pallet. Every single location has an associated charging rate to automatically calculate storage charges and invoice customers.

Total stock figures are broken down into on order, in stock and allocated stock with each item clearly showing each of these together with all locations where it is held.

Low stock alerts are handled by a daily report for regular items and automated emails to the relevant manager for critical items.

The Contact Management module integrates with Outlook for emails and Zetafax for desktop faxing and all communications are logged. Each company can have multiple contacts and each contact can have multiple phone numbers, fax numbers, email addresses, mobile numbers etc.

There is document management included for scanning delivery notes and other paperwork relating to stock items.

A comprehensive set of reports is included and training was given in Seagate Crystal Reports for the client to have the skills to create their own in future.

The system has proved very successful, improving stock traceability, job tracking and the web front end has been used as an effective marketing tool helping to win major new contracts.

The software is written in Visual Basic with a Microsoft SQL Server database and ASP based web pages.

A link to their Sage accounting software is provided by an end of day CSV export.

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