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Success Story - Avery Weigh-Tronix

Project Details  

Avery Weigh-Tronix


Modernization


Manufacturing


jQuery Mobile, HTML5, Offline functionality, Mobile signature capture


WebSmart ILE

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Mobile web application with offline functionality provides return on investment in less than one year

Avery Weigh-Tronix partnered with BCD's Professional Services team to develop a mobile web application that would enable their service technicians to complete work orders while servicing scales in the field, regardless of whether or not they had an Internet connection.

The service technicians don't even remember the old way of doing things and they love it.

Trevor Fawbush, VP of North America Service


Challenge

Avery Weigh-Tronix's primary business goals were to:

  • Improve business processes, efficiencies, and accuracy of work order reporting.
  • Reduce costs associated with administrative paperwork, inventory control and invoicing.
  • Eliminate handwritten invoices and certifications that were previously faxed, mailed and/or physically handed out to the responsible parties.
  • Reduce data entry errors from processing and rekeying approximately 7,500 sheets of paper each month.
  • Improve customer service.

"We were looking to get more real-time invoicing and real-time data," says Trevor Fawbush, Avery Weigh-Tronix's VP of North America Service.

Solution

Avery Weigh-Tronix partnered with BCD's Professional Services team to develop a mobile web application that would enable their service technicians to complete work orders while servicing scales in the field, regardless of whether or not they had an Internet connection.

The web application was developed with WebSmart ILE and:

  • Uses jQuery Mobile UI to give it the modern look and feel that end users expect from a mobile application.
  • Uses cutting-edge web technologies (mobile, HTML5, offline functionality, signature capture) while leveraging the power and stability of IBM i.

The project was initially rolled out on the West Coast (NA), with Avery Weigh-Tronix's Canadian and Irish service divisions now modelling similar projects to this one.

Offline Functionality

Avery Weigh-Tronix's service technicians frequently visit job sites where Internet access is unavailable (wifi, 3G, 4G). As a result, they required an application that would continue to work even without an Internet connection. The solution uses Web SQL with HTML5 local storage to fulfill this requirement.

When the application is initially accessed with an Internet connection, it downloads the data and populates the local SQL tables. If the user is accessing the application for the first time, or if the layouts of tables have changed, they are created or replaced, then populated with data from the DB2 database on the IBM i server. The local tables include customer service calls, customer scale data, the service technician's inventory, work order header/detail, as well as various lookup tables for drop downs and standard notes that are added to the work order. Local tables are created and subsequently accessed via SQL using JavaScript.

When the service technician opens a call and begins adding data for the work order, which includes scales details, parts, etc., all of the data is stored locally. When they return to the list of orders for the day (not actively working with an order), the program knows that it can safely sync with the server. The sync process uploads completed work orders and downloads any new orders that require service. This happens periodically throughout the day and only sends data that has changed to minimize the volume of data uploaded.

Signature Capture

Avery Weigh-Tronix is also able to capture the client's signature on a tablet and automatically email PDF work order summaries that include the customer's signature. A jQuery plugin captures the signature using the HTML canvas element and saves it as a JSON string. The resulting string can be stored in the local database and subsequently sent to the server along with the work order detail on the next sync.

Order Completion and Acknowledgement

Following synchronization, a process is executed on the IBM i that formats the work order and generates an order summary. The summary is a PDF document that is emailed to the customer contact. It includes all of the order details, parts used, sundry items, costs and certifications. The signature captured is embedded in the document. In many cases, this document will be in the customer's inbox moments after they sign the work order.

The order details then feed directly into Avery Weigh-Tronix's ERP system for inventory management and invoicing.

BCD Professional Services

By partnering with BCD's Professional Services team, Avery Weigh-Tronix was able to capitalize on BCD's experience in developing hundreds of IBM i web applications across many industries. In addition to the actual development, BCD assisted with the project's business analysis and shared insights for features, like inventory management, that weren't part of the initial spec. BCD and Avery Weigh-Tronix also interviewed key end users as part of the development process to solicit early feedback and get buy-in from all levels of the organization.

Results

The solution's benefits are numerous and have fundamentally improved Avery Weigh-Tronix's business processes. Because day-to-day operations are more streamlined, they have not only saved significant time and money, but improved customer service as well. Some customers have even taken the time to communicate how much they prefer receiving digital reports over mailed or faxed copies.

Avery Weigh-Tronix has also seen the following results:

  • Return on investment in less than one year.
  • Real-time access to data has reduced the time between job completion and invoicing from 7-12 business days to less than two business days.
  • Eliminating the need for paper has resulted in $24,000 annual savings on paper, toner and printer/fax maintenance.
  • Marked increase in accuracy as parts and pricing is validated by the application. Also, there are noticeably fewer data entry errors because the solution has eliminated rekeying.
  • Saved time by giving the organization real-time access to an order's status. Previously, service managers sorted through files or made phone calls to find the information.
  • Without the need to rekey data or file paper, administrative staff have been able to invest time into more strategic projects like marketing. "It's a non-quantifiable return, but it's one that has been very valuable to us," says Trevor.
  • Improved customer service with system-generated work order summaries that include links to customer feedback surveys.
  • Noticeable improvement in physical inventory. Their LA office reported that their annual physical inventory takes half the time it did before the solution was implemented.

"This project has given the IT department a better understanding of the commercial world as well," says Trevor. In order to successfully implement the solution, Avery Weigh-Tronix's IBM i programmers had to think about how a service technician's process could be improved from start to finish. The project has also increased the IBM i programmer's visibility with the company's service technicians, and many of them are now on a first-name basis with the service technicians.

Finally, the solution has been a success among end users. "The service technicians don't even remember the old way of doing things and they love it," says Trevor.

About Avery Weigh-Tronix

Avery Weigh-Tronix is a division of Illinois Tool Works, a Fortune 200 company with over 820 business units worldwide. With over 250 years of experience, Avery Weigh-Tronix designs, manufactures, markets and services a broad range of high quality industrial products and weighing systems. Avery Weigh-Tronix is one of the world's leading suppliers of weighing solutions.

By drawing on the latest research and technology from around the globe, Avery Weigh-Tronix offers a product portfolio that is second to none: providing business focused products and solutions under several of the industry's most established brand names, including Avery Weigh-Tronix, Brecknell and Dillon.

 

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