NPC Success Study

The Customer

NPC Opens new site is a family-owned company that helps customers meet their distribution and packaging needs both nationally and internationally. Headquartered in Decatur, Alabama, they operate out of a more than 300,000 square foot facility staffed by over 300 employees.

National Packaging Company uses Serif Systems to improve order accuracy with Socket Mobile’s S700 Barcode Scanner and the FileMaker Go® iOS Application.

The Partner

Founded in 1994, Serif Systems Ltd Opens new site is a software developer headquartered in Leeds, UK. Their primary business is developing bespoke software. Serif offers a wide range of managed services, tailored to customers’ requirements, delivering a complete end-to-end solution for their internal systems and connectivity needs. They provide web/solution development, technical and IT support, database development, and in-house design.

The Software Partner

FileMaker Inc. Opens new site was founded in 1998. Headquartered in Santa Clara, CA, FileMaker is an international company whose primary business is database software. The FileMaker platform is software for creating custom apps that work with iPad, iPhone, Windows, Mac, and the web.

The Challenge

National Packaging Company experienced too many input errors from orders kept on multiple pallets for call-off by customers. They had no package tracking process and needed to update their inventory management system.

FileMaker Inc. was running an easy-to-use database software package (FileMaker Pro 12 and FileMaker Pro 12 Server) for order and print processes throughout the company. Unfortunately, once orders were produced and then kept on multiple pallets for call-off by customers, there was no tracking process in place, resulting in the potential for errors and reduced efficiency. With 50-60 pallets being moved each day, the question was whether a simple-to-use, but powerful shop floor system could be implemented to track and report pallet statuses in real-time. Serif Systems was tasked with finding a solution to this problem.

The Socket Mobile Solution

National Packaging Company selected the Socket Mobile S700 barcode scanner because it allows easy access to the iOS on-screen keyboard. The FileMaker GO iOS database application, enhanced with Serif Systems input interface, used an Apple iPod touch protected with rubber anti-shock cases alongside Socket Mobile’s S700 scanner.

Since FileMaker was already running the system, Serif Systems embarked upon research to find an inventory management solution using this established platform. It became apparent that some form of automated barcode input would be the best solution to reduce any data input errors. Serif found Socket Mobile’s range of barcode scanners to be the best option because they are straightforward, reliable and easy to integrate via Bluetooth with iOS devices running the FileMaker Go mobile database application.

The simplicity of the setup doesn’t mean the S700 is without valuable and innovative features.  A feature that Serif saw as particularly beneficial is the double press function on the trigger which instantly brings up the on-screen keyboard for easy data entry – a unique feature for Bluetooth barcode scanners of this type on the market right now. 

Serif Systems wrote a two-step input interface that could be used on any FileMaker Go-enabled device such as the iPad, iPad mini, iPhone and iPod touch. The mobile device connects to the server via wireless extenders put into the factory shop floor. Once Serif Systems found the proper pieces to the puzzle, they began to put them together. The complete solution consisted of the FileMaker Pro Server with FileMaker Go running on an Apple iPod touch device housed in rubber anti-shock protector cases, connected via Bluetooth to a Socket Mobile S700. 

Each customer order would produce pallet labels with unique barcodes. These would be printed next to where the pallets are loaded, using the barcode font software loaded on a PC by FileMaker Pro. Each (pallet) bay has a different set of barcodes. The forklift driver takes the pallet to the correct bay, scans the Pallet Label Barcode, scans the Bay Barcode, then clicks the enter button programmed onto the iPod touch screen. This records the location and completes the tracking process. Serif Systems was able to program in extra features required by the client into the FileMaker system to maximize the reporting functionality; these were minimal and came at a fraction of the cost of an SAP or SQL-based system, which can be five or more times the cost.

The Results

A major national food sleeve printing company eliminate the need for manual paper-based order processing and finally realize their wish to have real-time tracking of pallets and customers’ orders with a logistics management solution provided by Serif Systems Ltd.

Without disruption to their existing order processing system the client now has full access to real-time palletized stock details so that they can provide immediate stock location information to their workers and stock take information to their customers. Errors have been significantly reduced, and some long-missing stock was even located when using the new system! It has been estimated that factory floor staff are saving roughly two hours per day now that they don’t have to complete time-consuming paper records and have reported being much happier in the workplace.  They are working more efficiently and as a result, feel less overstretched and can use their free time to be proactive with activities such as keeping the stockroom tidy and generally attending to tasks more rapidly rather than being reactive.

“The very simple Bluetooth setup to pair with an Apple mobile device (iPad, iPhone, etc) and the one-click set up to integrate with FileMaker Go made development easy. I also found the information and service provided by Socket Mobile and its UK distributor to be first-rate, giving me additional peace of mind in my choice of hardware partner,” said Malcolm Naylor, Lead Developer at Serif Systems Ltd.

Try it free.

Test out our data reading and scanning technology for free with SocketCam. The SocketCam C820 lets you scan directly into your feature application using the camera on your mobile device, ensuring high-performance scanning without the need for an external barcode scanner.