Intelligent Document Handling
SpaceTec Solutions assist CCS to provide efficiency eServer IBM System i solutions for Belmar Engineering.
Belmar Engineering Services Limited is one of Scotland's most advanced subcontract precision engineering workshops, servicing the oil and gas industries in the North Sea and world-wide. An imaginative and on-going program of reinvestment in computer based technology has meant that Belmar Engineering work at the very frontiers of technology.
For David Reid, Joint Managing Director of Belmar, it was essential that a reliable and cost effective computer system was installed to support the needs of the business.
Email and Fax
An initial area of concern for Belmar was the distribution of purchase orders to suppliers. Each PO was to be printed out individually onto pre-printed stationary and posted to the relevant supplier. Not only was this procedure time consuming and costly in terms of the printed stationary, postal costs and man time but it also meant a longer lead time to receive the goods.
Belmar outsource all their IT to Castlehill Computer Services (CCS) Ltd who work closely with SpaceTec a leading supplier of print solutions for the IBM System i. SpaceTec recommended the BlueSeries solution which allows distribution of the print spool via either fax or email.
Belmar are now able to distribute their PO’s directly to the suppliers, cutting out the extra man time, the cost of pre-printed stationary, postage and delays. Not only does this save money, but it also helps to make the business more responsive and efficient. The BlueSeries installation was the first of a series of SpaceTec products supplied by CCS to Belmar. Having now seen that the IBM System i could be utilised in a more efficient manner Belmar decided to investigate further.
In order to create a form on the IBM System i Belmar were using a combination of Word and Paintbrush. This procedure was very time consuming and and small changes would quite often lead to a mismatch between the form and the overlayed text. Once again SpaceTec were able to supply a solution in the form of a product called InterForm400.
InterForm400 includes an easy to use, versatile graphical design tool that provides easy handling of graphical design elements and "drag & drop" formatting of spool data. The Designer interfaces directly with the InterForm400 software on the IBM System i. InterForm400 allows Belmar to create new, or update existing forms design very quickly, simultaneously making forms available for production printing or e-mailing. InterForm400 also interfaces with BlueSeries allowing the forms created using InterForm400 to be distributed as described earlier.
IBM System i
Belmar are committed to the IBM System i because of its stability. David Reid the Managing Director of Belmar said
"Our computer systems must be available 24 hrs per day, any downtime can result in significant lost production. For us, stability, reliability and security are the most important features of any computer system. Firstly the AS/400 and now the IBM System i were chosen for this task because only these systems were capable of meeting our needs."
A critical issue for Belmar is back up. Off site backup is handled by CCS and is automated on the IBM System i. The onsite backup however is a different matter as there are no onsite IT personnel at Belmar. It is not the back up which causes the problem but the lack of personnel to change tapes and the requirement for regularly cleaning of the tape drives. To avoid changing media the back up uses the IBM System i internal DVD writer and the ZipSave/400 compression software. The DVD writer does not need to be cleaned as frequently as tape drives and the file compression of 80-90% ensures the backup fits on to a single DVD.
Belmar work to high quality specifications, each job or activity results in a considerable amount of documentation. Most documents are created by copying a pre-existing document and making the appropriate modifications. Each document contains graphical images and format information as well as useful data, due to the nature of Word each time a document is saved it must be saved in its entirety. With up to 20 documents per job, there is a considerable amount of duplicated information stored in each document and a corresponding requirement for a significant amount of space in the back up.
The challenge for Belmar and CCS was to provide a more efficient way of storing the data. One alternative solution was to use an external company who would provide a file server where all the data could be stored. Belmar were reluctant to go down this route due to the security and access issues associated with storing the data offsite. CCS once again approached SpaceTec who suggested the IceBreak product.
IceBreak is an advanced, yet easy to comprehend server technology, which enables web applications to be easily created on the IBM IBM System i server platform. You can even reuse your RPG coding skills and legacy code.
By using IceBreak, Castlehill are able to develop a web based solution that integrates InterForm400 with IceBreak. Users of the system will be presented with a document template on a web page that will be completed by the users in the same way as the Word documents they used previously. However, only the text input by the user will be saved reducing the storage requirements considerably. All images and page formatting requirements are built into the template and do not require to be saved with each document. The users will see very little difference, the document will resemble a Word document so there will be no need for extensive training. Not only will this result in the backup requiring less storage space on the DVD but also provide Belmar with the ability to follow the progress of each job from start to finish with an easy and instant retrieval solution for all documentation.
Although the development of the above solution is currently in progress there are already plans to integrate many of Belmar’s other procedures, an example of which is the Job Costing/Accounting System into the Icebreak solution.
Syd Nicholson of Castlehill Computer Services said
"I have been working with SpaceTec for many years and have watched the product range develop. The solutions they supply are reliable, useable and cost effective. As an IBM System i specialist it is important to supply the client with the right solution and as such it is necessary for me to evaluate all relevant offerings. I have found Icebreak to be an excellent easy to use product and its performance far out surpasses its competition, many from very well known large companies."
Belmar Engineering Services Ltd., weld overlay specialists and precision engineers. Belmar was incorporated in 1975 to supply a wide range of sub-contract engineering and complete manufacturing services primarily to the petrochemical industry. The range of services provided by Belmar include welding, weld overlay, horizontal and vertical boring, and CNC turning.