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sojahseh

Bar Codes for inventory control

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sojahseh    0

Hello,

I have a dilemma which I hope I can get some feedback on from you all.

I run a growing manufacturing business and I am beginning to run into problems with inventory control, more specifically, doing a physical count at the end of each month to post to the books. We are using Macs along with FM Pro 5.

What I am trying to accomplish is to develop a system which will help me track raw material inventories. This would both help me manage purchasing, as well as month end inventory. I need to know if a bar code system would be able to track my inventory in real time. Is it possible to enter an item and then a beginning weight, then track deductions from the original weight?

I may be in way over my head here, but in theory it doesn

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kapaun    0

I am new to this forum thing but would like to help. I suppose you could create a new record for each item with the total weight, then use the scanner to barcode the qty of items pulled from inventory by creating a new record in a seperate file for each scan. Then use a portal or summary type layout that would subtotal the qty multiplied by the weight for that part, and subtact it from the initial record in the other file. You could actually go a step farther by creating an end of the monthe script to export to a "history file" to allow you to start transactions over. Dont know if this helps you at all. I am not a professional developer, but do help people with manufacturing solutions from time to time. Good luck and let me know if I was of any assistance.

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LiveOak    1

As to the barcode part, remember that barcodes are just some text that can be read and typed in by the barcode scanner.

Inventory control is another matter. There are a lot of approaches, especially for raw material. One element I would include is to make all inventory changes by posting a transaction to a transactions file, rather than actually CHANGING the total quantity in a field. The total current inventory is just a sum of all the + and - transactions.

-bd

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sojahseh    0

I must tell you, what I am really grappling with is a framework in which I can accomplish this. I am relatively new to Filemaker but have put together most of the databases that my company uses on a daily basis.

My situation is this. Each month we get in thousands of pounds of raw material, but only in a few varieties. Throughout the month deductions are made from these stockpiles and are used different jobs. I am trying to not so much track the inventory amounts (would be nice), but to ease the month end inventory process.

Would creating a record for each box of material as it comes in the door, then making deductions within the record be viable? Or would it be better to create an Incoming Materials file, then a Materials Used file and do the appropriate math?

Is there anyone who makes a product which could serve as a framework for what I am doing? As it stands right now, I am really short of time. I fear this might take an inordinately long time to create from scratch.

Thanks in advance

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LiveOak    1

I'm afraid you have landed squarely upon the most complex sort of inventory control problem, MRP systems (Material Resource Planning). Companies spend years and years and millions of dollars on such systems. The fundamentally difficult part of the problem is that raw stock is purchased by one unit of meaure and consumed by another. The difficulty comes in with something like say bar stock. If a product requires 1 linear foot of bar stock to make and you have 1 linear foot in inventory, you may still have a problem if the inventory total is made up of three 4" pieces. The problems multiplies with sheet metal which is 2 dimensional. Every type of raw material inventoried presents a multiplier to the difficulty.

If you truly need such an inventory control system, go buy one. It usually take 3-6 months to INSTALL such a system, let alone write one, let alone have a NOVICE FM user write one. The changes of being able to put together an inventory control system as a novice in a short period of time is much much less than winning the lottery.

Having said all that (pretty scary stuff), it might be relatively simple to ease the taking of inventory with FM. All the barcode part is going to get you is eliminate the need to type in the inventory no. of an item and perhaps the location.

-bd

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rhenderson    0

I have a question for you all. Do you have any recommendations on what a Bar Code reader and Label Printer that is compatiable with a B&W G3 USB running Filemaker Pro 5.5? We have a database all setup for inventory control but are looking for time saving devices such as a barcode reader system which would work with our database. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks

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LiveOak    1

The key selection criteria for Mac barcode scanners is 1) Mac support (PC's & Mac's ARE different, most scanners need to be programmed for one or the other) 2) Can you set scan Preambles and Postambles, and 3) can you program the Command (Apple) key as part of a Preable and Postamble.

Why is this important? A preable (automatically typed before the scanned value) of "Command-1" allow you to run the first displayed Scriptmaker script before the scanned value is entered. This script could be as simple as a "Go to Field" to get you in the correct field. A postamble (automatically types after the scanned value) of "Command-2" allows you to run a script after a value is scanned in and trigger post processing to create new records, fill in other fields, etc.

For USB, there is the WelchAllyn Imageteam 3800i Series. I have not owned one of these and determined the ability to programm the Command key, but it is directly USB compatible. The Unitech laser scanners are ADB, but when used with an iMate converter work well and allow the Command key to be easily programmed. For light pen entry, the Percon Mini PowerWedge devices work with the iMate converter and can be programmed for the Command key. It is however VERY difficult to figure out how to do so!

Label printers are a HUGE subject. It really depends upon what size label, in what material, with what adhesive you want. For simple paper labels printed one at a time, use the Sieko label printers and a barcode font package (bitmap). For multiple paper labels (or polyester labels), use a laser printer, sheets of label stock, and a barcode font package. For special materials and requirements (solvent resistance, cryogenic temperatures) the problem is too extensive to discuss here.

If you need to give me a call on this topic:

Brent Dussia

Live Oak Systems

760.728.7046

brent@liveoaksystems.com

-bd

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larosche    0

How does the bar code entry go to Filemaker? We have created some custom software solutions with Visual Basic on a PC, but we use Filemaker as our text/data entry. We then export from Filemaker to our custom program.

We have a serial (RS-232) scanner tied to a PC laptop. I know the protocol for the scanner. When the barcode is scanned the computer is send an ASCII data with the contents of the barcode. Does Filemaker read this like data from the keyboard?

In my case I am storing the exact time when the scan occurred. This system is a scorekeeping system (counts the # of laps, how many laps, etc.).

We are also working on an RFID system, but that requires real time interaction with the serial port (read/write).

Can I get Filemaker to interact with a device driver (DLL)?

Thanks for any help,

Ed

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LiveOak    1

Normally it is the responsibilty of the software supplied with a serial scanner to convert the serial input to emulate typing on the keyboard. If FM has to do this, buy another scanner/software set that fixes this problem.

If you are REALLY a glutton for punnishment you could use a FM serial plug-in to interface with the serial scanner and capture the serial input stream and place it in a field (or if you are really out of your mind, write a FM plug-in yourself). The problem with doing this is that that several code translations can occur as a scan travels through the scanner, becomes a keyboard code, is re-translated to the internal format used by FM. I'm guessing that your FM script may have to translate ASCII codes received in the serial buffer to letters and numbers.

For anyone who has not already purchased the a scanner/laptop, the laptop needs a keyboard port and the scanner should plug into the external keyboard interface on the laptop to emulate typing on the keyboard. All other interfaces are more problematic.

-bd

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larosche    0

LiveOak,

I must be a glutton, because I normally write drivers for the software folks I work with. I need the documentation to write the Filemaker driver. Where can I get this information?

Thanks again,

Ed Larosche

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LiveOak    1

The specification for plug-ins can be found on the FileMaker web site, www.filemaker.com. If this is for your own use, go crazy. If it is for a client, to charge them more for a custom development when a stock solution is available for less cost is less than ethical, IMHO.

-bd

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