The Customer


National Packaging Company uses Serif Systems to improve order accuracy with Socket Mobile’s Barcode Scanner and the FileMaker Go® iOS Application.



The Partner


Serif Systems Ltd was founded in 1994, headquartered in Leeds, UK. Their primary business is developing Bespoke Software. Serif offers a wide range of managed services, tailored to customers’ requirements, delivering a complete end-to-end solution for their internal systems and connectivity needs. They provide web/solution development, technical and IT support, database development, and in-house design.



The Software Partner


FileMaker® Inc. was founded in 1998, an international company headquartered in Santa Clara, CA. Their primary business is in database software. The FileMaker platform is a software for creating custom aps that work with iPad, iPhone, Windows, Mac, and the web.




The Challenge


Reduce National Packaging Company’s input errors from orders that are kept on multiple pallets for call-off by customers with no tracking process.

FileMaker Inc. was running an easy-to-use database software package (FileMaker Pro 12 and FileMaker Pro 12 Server) for the order and print processes throughout the printing company. Unfortunately, once orders were produced and then kept on multiple pallets for call-off by customers, there was no tracking process in place, resulting in the potential for errors and reduced efficiency. With 50-60 pallets being moved each day, the question was whether a simple to use, but powerful shop floor system could be implemented to do the tracking and report in real time. Serif Systems was tasked to find a solution to this problem.




The Socket Mobile Solution



The Socket Mobile 7Ci barcode scanner was selected because it allows easy access to the iOS onscreen keyboard. The FileMaker GO iOS database application enhanced with Serif Systems input interface used the Apple iPod touch protected with rubber anti-shock cases alongside Socket Mobile’s 7Ci scanner.

As FileMaker was already running the system, Serif Systems embarked upon research to find a solution using this established platform. It became apparent that some form of automated barcode input would be the best solution to reduce any data input errors. Serif found Socket Mobile’s range of barcode scanners the very best option because of its straightforward, reliable and easy integration via Bluetooth with iOS devices running the FileMaker Go mobile database application.

The simplicity of the setup doesn’t mean the 7Ci is without valuable and innovative features.  A feature which Serif saw as particularly beneficial is the double press function on the trigger which instantly brings up the on-screen keyboard for easy data entry – a unique feature for Bluetooth barcode scanners of this type on the market right now. 

Serif Systems wrote a two-step input interface that could be used on any FileMaker Go enabled device such as the iPad, iPad mini, iPhone and iPod touch. The mobile device connecting to the server by wireless extenders put into the factory shop floor. Once Serif Systems had the individual parts to the puzzle, they began to put the pieces together. The complete solution comprised of the FileMaker Pro Server with FileMaker Go running on Apple iPod touch device housed in rubber anti-shock protector cases and the Socket Mobile 7Ci.  Each customer order would produce pallet labels with unique barcodes. These would be printed next to where the pallets are loaded, using the barcode font software loaded on a PC using FileMaker Pro. Each (pallet) bay has a differing set of barcodes. The forklift driver takes the pallet to the correct bay, scans the Pallet Label Barcode, scans the Bay Barcode, then clicks the enter button programmed onto the iPod touch screen, therefore recording the location and completing the tracking process. Serif Systems was able to program in extra features required by the client into other parts of the FileMaker system in order to maximize the reporting functionality; these were minimal, and at a fraction of the cost of a SAP or SQL based system which can be five or more times the cost.




The Results



A major national food sleeve printing company eliminates the need for manual paper-based order processing and finally realize their wish to have real-time tracking of pallets and customers’ orders with a solution provided by Serif Systems Ltd.

Without disruption to their existing order processing system the client now has full access to real time palletized stock details so that they can produce immediate stock location information to their workers and stock take information to their customers. Errors have been significantly reduced, and some stock which had been missing for some time was even located when using the new system! It has been estimated that factory floor staff are saving roughly two hours per day now that they don’t have to complete time consuming paper records and have reported being much happier in the work place.  They are working much more efficiently, feel less overstretched and can use their free time to be proactive with activities such as keeping the stockroom tidy and generally attending to tasks quicker rather than being reactive.

“The very simple Bluetooth setup to pair with an Apple mobile device (iPad, iPhone etc) and the one click setup to integrate with FileMaker Go made development easy. In addition, I also found the information and service provided by Socket Mobile and its UK distributor were first rate, giving me additional peace of mind in my choice of hardware partner,” said Malcolm Naylor, Lead Developer at Serif Systems Ltd.