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iOS and DataFlex coexist in Saturn Software System’s bar code reader app


“By using the DataFlex WebApp and scanning the bar codes the client achieved their goal of reducing the number of end user steps while capturing large amounts of data.” Reed T. Hamel, Saturn Software Systems

Saturn Software Systems mostly serves 100+ client volunteer and paid fire departments in the USA with their Fireplan Software products, focusing on records management. The product suite includes features that support state retirement programs for volunteer firefighters, as well as the LOSAP program that tracks the attendance of each firefighter each year, and other fire department-focused applications.

Recently Saturn has expanded their offerings to include supporting a small manufacturing facility with the development of their Lot_EZ bar code scanning application for Windows desktop and web clients using DataFlex 18.1’s latest Windows and web technologies.

“I got a telephone call in April of 2011 asking if we could come over to talk about building a 1-file database to track something called a Move Ticket,” explains Saturn’s president and lead developer Reed T. Hamel on the events that started their new product line.

“I asked how they got my name, and she said one of the employees, a local volunteer fireman, referred my company. It turns out he is the former chief of one of our Volunteer Fire Department clients.”

Reed says that the challenge the manufacturing client H. Galow Company, Inc. faced was to record a large number of data entry transactions in the easiest way possible with the fewest number of end user interactions.

“By using the DataFlex WebApp and scanning the bar codes, which in turn updates Lot_EZ, the client achieved their goal of reducing the number of end user steps while capturing large amounts of data. Plus, the Lot_EZ application also enables the client to maintain ISO 9000 2008 certification and to comply with FDA regulations.”

Lot_EZ Barcode ReaderThe software also enables the client to achieve higher levels of traceability in manufacturing processes by tracking each step/process, and sub process, and documenting and certifying them.

Along with capturing large amounts of data and reducing employee interactions, Reed says that employee accuracy for each process/step has improved, as well as more accurate reporting, going paperless, and improving operational intelligence by using Lot_EZ for database queries.

In addition to DataFlex, Reed also uses PDF Creator and an Apple iPod with an Infinite Peripherals’ Linea Pro 5 bar code scanner with the Pistol Grip attached to complete the system, which has been evolving over the past four years. The application runs on all recent Windows OS’ distributed across 20 clients and one server.

As Reed describes the system, “The scanner fits around the iPod and scans the bar code right into the text window of the web app. This is cool because after reading/displaying the bar code in the window, it automatically inserts a tab and then finds and displays the record. The user then taps a blue Continue button and enters the quantity and selects which machine number that processed the part. On the save it records the user login name, date, and increments the step/process number.”

“I’ve been using DataFlex for a long time – I use it exclusively,” says Reed. “The Studio’s app development tools and frameworks are fast and easy to use - it took our senior programmer Erik Zimmerman no time to get a prototype up and running. The source code from Lot_EZ and the WebApp are compatible which saved us time and money.”

Reed’s team started building Lot_EZ with Visual DataFlex 16.0, and has migrated the app forward from that point through the latest DataFlex 18.1 release.

“The new Grid features in DataFlex 18.1 are very helpful, and the web framework is a home run for us.  We’ve had no problems using DataFlex on various versions of Windows OS’ on clients.”

In the end, what matters most is what the client thinks. H. Galow’s Project Manager, Michael Galow, says, “Lot_EZ provides a greater degree of flexibility to address changing needs, and has the capability of being integrated with other business systems. This flexibility gives us the ability to simplify the production processes/steps while also having the capability of a good database system for record retention, retrieval and reporting.”

Lot_EZ Screen Shots

The Lot_EZ Dashboard

Lot_EZ Dashboard

The Enter Quantity Screen

Lot_EZ Enter Quantity Screen

The Edit Record Screen

Lot_EZ Edit Record Screen

The Choose Printer Screen

Lot_EZ Choose Printer Screen

The Print Move Ticket Screen

Lot_EZ Print Move Ticket Screen

 H. Galow Company’s Orlando Lopez using the iPod/Lot_EZ WebApp

Lot_EZ bar code reader in use.