Schloetter Chemicals and Paints QA database project
Development of a programme that is exactly the same as it was before but better – bugs fixed, layout improved, seamless evolution from our old system. It has been seamlessly made better.
Schloetter Co Ltd are manufacturers and suppliers of Surface Coatings, Metal Finishing Products Plating Equipment and Industrial Paints. As part of a privately owned worldwide group of associated companies, Schloetter develop, supply and support a wide range of products and processes for the finishing industry. The group has a very strong research and development heritage. Metal plating processes still form the majority the company’s business, for both functional and decorative applications, with complimentary development of paints and lacquers.
The project originated in the chemical laboratory. Schloetter had an existing in-house bespoke laboratory programme, which they used to control data on products and incoming samples. When the IT department closed, the laboratory found themselves with no one on site to support their programme. In addition to needing support, Jim Groom QA Technician was aware that there were a number pf incremental improvements where addressing known errors and bugs would mean that the programme could be improved. The companies’ second laboratory works with paints and was working from traditional paper records. Jennie Hands QA Technician in the Paints laboratory was planning on moving to a duplicate version of the programme use by the chemical laboratory. This meant that the programme needed to be tailored on the special needs of her department, since greater precision in numbers entered was needed. Paint products required data to varying decimal places throughout the system depending on which test is being done. Entering results as a fixed number of decimal places causes rounding problems and inaccurate reporting.
At an initial kick off meeting the existing programme was demonstrated so that the IMS developer had a good understanding of both the functionality and how it was used. Initially the two departments worked together and once the shared ground elements were completed the project split allowing the two separate laboratories to establish testing and functionality for their two different sets of requirements. The focus was on the chemical version of the programme first to form the core for new paint system, then as second phase IMS developed the paint programme. In addition to incremental improvements, there was integration work with Schloetter’s new Sage system to be undertaken. Some information need to be exchanged with Sage to produce documentation for QA testing and to provide the details of the analysis needed. This necessitated IMS working with the Sage development team. The project developed in a relaxed style since the existing programme was adequate for day-to-day activities and the laboratory was able to keep using it until the new system was ready. A parallel test environment was set up and work on the new programme was ongoing over several months with exchange of information until satisfied that everything was ready to launch.
The development and moving to the live system ran very smoothly since the test environment operated in parallel and working with IMS was very easy. Now all test results are in one place and they are much easier to review. Beyond ease of use, a key benefit of the new system is the savings in paper. Previously all records were held as hard copy, the new system replaces this paper-based system. Jennie Hands is very happy with this outcome “Every paint produced is an individual blend so previously every blend number required a separate piece of paper. The new system will eliminate cabinets full of paper.” For Jim Groom the new programme almost feels like he is still using same programme, “the same but better.”