Luminaire Lighting Corporation is an Edison NJ based company which markets vandal resistant lighting fixtures. At the time when discussions regarding our involvement in a project were initiated, Luminaire utilized an internally developed Inventory System (IMS) as a key component in a suite of applications that were used to manage its supply chain and production.
The original IMS is built upon Ashton Tate’s Dbase platform and has provided over 20 years of service. The program still functioned well overall, but management wanted to enhance the system, and it didn't make sense to invest in a DOS based technology at that point in time. The main shortcoming of the original IMS is that Order Tracking was not tied to Inventory Management in any way. Another shortcoming is that the original system has a limitation of 9999 records due to design tradeoffs made when the system was first implemented.
During discussions between Luminaire's President Ron Lipson, and Impact Informatics principal consultant, Dave Brown, a new IMS was envisioned which would provide a number of benefits including:
- Tying Order Tracking to Inventory Management will both enhance operating efficiency and give management a sharper tool for decision support activities as compared to the current IMS.
- In the current system, the operator has to reserve parts on a fixture-by-fixture basis while looking at a print out of an order. The new system will allow all reservations for each of an order’s fixtures to occur when an order is booked. This will be much faster and more accurate then the current system.
- Having instant knowledge of how the current inventory is to be allocated across customer orders should better enable management to meet strategic goals. For instance a potentially big first-time customer could be accommodated rather then a long-time customer whose need is not critical in the event that both have an order for the same fixtures, and there are not enough parts on hand to cover both orders.
- The ability to store information on more then 9999 parts or fixtures at a given time will give management a better historical view of fixture/parts movement.
- All of the search functions in the current IMS require that the user type in the exact part or fixture name to match against. Novice users are not particularly good at this and often need to make several attempts. The new system will utilize SQL’s wildcard operator which will enable a “begins with” style of search. Users will be able to type in the first few characters of the part they are searching for and pick the exact part they’re interested in from the ensuing list of parts.
- The new system will implement searching on combined criteria as well. For instance, users should be able to ask for orders shipped between two dates, belonging to a given sales rep. This type of search is not available in the current IMS
During the development phase of the project, we maintained a test site on the internet. This approach enabled a RAD style of development where small pieces of the project are uploaded at short intervals for testing and feedback. The approach ensured that Luminaire personnel were involved in the design process and that their feedback was incorporated into the design in the early stages. As the project progressed, Ron Lipson. Luminaire's president felt comfortable enough with the progress shown to allow the scope of the project to increase. Most notably, much time was spent developing custom controls, including select and combo controls both of which utilize a fully incremental search.