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Production Management


Our client, an on-demand printer needed to manage the turnaround of multiple jobs running simultaneously on an array of printers, binders, shrink-wrappers, etc., before moving to the shipping department for final processing, packing, shipping, and billing. Turnaround time was short. Scheduling required knowledge of the workflow, a matching of job specifications to machine capacity, the certainty that all components of the books were present or preprocessed when the job was ready to run, and an accurate record of the job linked to correct customer information to complete the billing process.

At the time we were called in, our Client relied on a combination of lists maintained by hand on small desktop applications, and accounts updated separately on a mainframe computer. Meanwhile volume was building while customer expectations, driven by a competitive market environment, were forcing shorter times to delivery.

Our Client had a LAN in place to support middle-office functions. They agreed to use Microsoft Visual Basic and Microsoft SQL Server to develop the new Production Manager.


The result is a three-tier client/server application residing on a Microsoft NT server and utilizing Microsoft Transaction Server (MTS) on the middle tier. We assembled the Windows GUI with Visual Basic employing ActiveX components designed and built by DSI to create an object-oriented environment. The "look and feel" is achieved by borrowing the Microsoft Outlook vocabulary of sheets and icons.

In addition, DSI built a browser interface that runs on the Firm's Intranet. This Website serves as an order-entry mechanism as well as a means for customers to track the status of their orders. To support the billing process, DSI created an interface to an SAP accounting installation as well as to some related UNIX-based legacy applications.

The final product is dynamic, familiar, flexible, and extendible. It is dynamic in the manner that it allows managers to track, update, and allocate jobs based on criteria defined by equipment specification and order requirements. It is familiar in that the managing staff already felt at home in the Microsoft Outlook environment. It is flexible in its support of navigation from detail to summary, and in the display methods it supports, from a calendar-based view to traditional charts and graphs. It is extendible in that the object-oriented design supports the easy distribution of information over the manufacturer's Intranet.