Nowadays, no computer system is an island. The role of an IT company such as Ten-25 Software is not merely to provide a good core product, but also to offer solutions to issues of interoperability, which is to say ‘the ability of software and hardware on multiple machines from multiple vendors to communicate’. As information technology permeates throughout a timber business’ operations, the need for communication between systems become more and more important.
In the case of Hoppings Softwood Products, the issue was to maximise the potential of their new Tallybeam machine from Systek Control Systems. This clever product measures each piece of timber as it leaves the mill and counts the quantity of each of the lengths. It then drives the packing machine and produces pack labels with the required content information on.
Ten-25’s task was to integrate the PC-based Systek software with Hoppings’ UniSTRIP system, which runs on a Unix server. The key issue was to file share information to keep stock control records up-to-date with what stock had been machined. UniSTRIP now takes the daily mill production data from Systek and uses it to update relevant Production Orders and amend the Finished Stock quantities of those products.
As Hoppings’ Company Secretary David King says, the Systek interface “allows us to transfer detailed information into UniSTRIP stock control much more quickly, and of course accurately” than manual entry. Taken in connection with the pack labels produced by UniSTRIP from the receipt of Imported Contracts and Landed Stock from UK suppliers, Hoppings can now know what is in each of their packs, and fulfill their customers’ demand for packs with specific length requirements.
The next step for Hoppings is to use the new Swedish and Finnish standards for XML document exchange to streamline the process even further. David King is confident that the XML interface will ultimately create a seamless process so that “a shipper’s file will end up as goods in stock, with labels produced to our specification”.
At Ten-25, we believe that projects such as XML are the way forward for computing, allowing the different platforms within a company to talk to each other and create a truly integrated IT solution.