A leading manufacturer of tools for professionals in the expert trades asked B-Three Solutions to create a customized inventory application to replace a paper-based equipment tracking procedure. The application produced an immediate reduction in personnel costs – at least 2.5 person-days per month.
The system keeps track of the items made available to employees through the client firm’s Employee Tool Lending Program, which is offered as an employee benefit. Under that program, employees are able to borrow (for their personal use) tools that the firm has manufactured, and also tables, chairs, and various event-related supplies.
B-Three designed and developed a custom .NET web application that enables the client firm to:
- Track the inventory of the Employee Tool Lending Program.
- Automate the browsing, reserving, and check-out of equipment by employees.
- Streamline the return process, in which the borrowed equipment is re-stocked.
One way of looking at the new inventory application is to consider the points where it is deployed around the client firm’s facility:
- Employee Kiosks. Centrally located employee kiosks provide the primary access points for participants in the tool lending program. Employees browse through an illustrated equipment inventory. They can submit requests to check out equipment that is in stock, or reserve items that are currently checked out. An employee checking out equipment receives a printed receipt with directions to the pickup location, information on pickup and return procedures, and the due date for returning the items.
- Guard Shack. The guards control access to the equipment locker, and are responsible for the handover of items to the employees who have arranged to borrow them. When a guard receives a printed receipt from an employee picking up equipment, the guard confirms the pickup by updating the corresponding transaction record.
- Repair Shop. Employees return borrowed items to the front desk of the Repair Shop, where the items are checked back in and examined before being returned to the equipment locker. Both steps – check-in and re-stocking – are confirmed through transactions in the application.
- Administrative Office. In addition to standard functions, such as maintaining four categories of users, the system administrators maintain the inventory database.
In addition to the PCs at these four locations, the application can be accessed through tablets or PCs connected to the firm’s intranet.
The system is written as an ASP.NET 4.5 MVC web application, following the MVC design pattern of development. It utilizes a SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition database to store all of the required configuration and transactional data of the system. Microsoft Entity Framework is utilized for object-relational mapping of the database.
Following successful deployment of the inventory management application, the client firm expressed its satisfaction by coming back to B-Three with its requirements for another custom software development project.