Packard Labs – Bristol
You've heard the phrase
'HP Invent'; this is where they do it.
HP Labs regularly
produce a number of computationally-intensive
console mode (DOS
box) programs that need to be run repeatedly
different input data. The programs compute
mathematical models that take a long time
to run, but are very
important to HP's on-going research.
engineers who produce these programs needed
a way to
the programs into a 'processing farm'
so that they could be run automatically and
in order to speed up the overall throughput.
Additionally, the engineers
required a way to monitor what was going on and
cancel running programs if necessary. Also, output
from the programs which had previously appeared
on screen would have to be captured.
database file is used to record 'Jobs' that
required. A Delphi user interface modelled
on Explorer was provided so that a small number
engineers (5 or so) could submit, monitor and
control jobs executing on a large 'farm' (up
300) of PCs.
Installed on each PC in the
'farm' (normal user's PCs throughout HP Labs)
is a service application written in Delphi which
downloads programs and data to be run on the user's
PC during idle time. When each program is complete,
its captured output is placed back into the Access
database for the engineers to view. In this way,
it is possible to leverage the power of hundreds
of PCs without their users being aware of any
performance drain. As the average PC spends more
than 90% of its time idle, this solution represents
a huge increase in throughput for this very important
part of HP.
Flowmetering – Stroud Case Study 1
Flowmetering manufacture magnetic flowmeters
ranging in size from 6 to 2000mm in diameter.
measure the flow of water (or oil, or beer etc.)
by measuring the effect that the moving liquid
has on the magnetic field generated by the meter.
For these meters
to be useful, it is vitally important that they
are properly calibrated. Danfoss have 5 "Calibration
Rigs" on-site in Stroud ranging in output
from 3 to 1500 Litres-per-second. A solution
required that would fully-automate these rigs
under the control of a single PC per rig.
one huge robot, each rig is composed of a weighing
machine, many valves, laboratory counter, digital
voltmeters, water pump and so on. many different
hardware interfaces have been employed such as
GPIB, RS232, HART, OPC to communicate with disparate
devices using a number of industry-standard and
proprietory protocols. This is a large project,
with approximately 30,000 lines of Delphi code
written so far. 2 rigs have been commissioned
so far, with the remaining 3 to be completed
by April 2003.
Healthcare – Luton
Healthcare are the UK's leading manufacturer
of hospital bed systems, offering a comprehensive
range of products ranging from simple anti-bedsore
products to full-blown intensive care systems.
Additionally, Huntleigh have a sizeable rental
business covering both long and short-term rental
of their bed systems. Huntleigh Healthcare are
a global company, also having rental businesses
in the U.S., Australia and France.
ageing rental invoicing system needed replacing.
A much more comprehensive system was specified,
encompassing not only invoicing, but asset-tracking,
depot and laundry management and a high degree
of integration with distributed devices such
MultiSoft UK have provided
Informix development and UNIX C development
skills and advice regarding methodologies. Many
technologies have been employed such as MSMQ,
Web Services, COM, DCOM and SQL Server Merge
MultiSoftUK have written UNIX C programs that
can post messages into MSMQ on Windows 2000
Such cross-platform integration essential in
real-world systems, but can very often be the
to achieve. MultiSoftUK's experience at both
UNIX and Windows development makes it the ideal
for this kind of development.
In addition, the Huntleigh
Rentals system is a true global system, being
both multi-language and multi-timezone on each
client. An on-going project in four phases,
1 went live in April 2002 and phase 2 went live
in February 2003.
Flowmetering – Stroud Case Study 2
to by Danfoss personnel as 'T' Factory, they
have instituted an assemble to order manufacturing
system that requires warehouse staff to complete
the customer's order from sub assemblies kept
in stock. Software was required to instruct
personnel on which assemblies should be combined
to complete a customer's order. Additionally,
documentation and packaging labels needed to
be printed and the serial numbers of the assemblies
used allocated to the customer's order for traceability.
main manufacturing and planning is handled by
SAP, MultiSoftUK had to work closely with Danfoss
staff to achieve the proper level of integration
required. Once the SAP data was made available,
MS SQL Server was used to store details of uncompleted
production orders, minimal bills of materials,
assembly stock levels and assembly serial numbers.
A Delphi application was written to allow the
warehouse staff to 'Complete a Production Order'
by simply nominating which assemblies were being
allocated to it from a drop-down list. Upon
the Production Order as complete, all documentation
and packaging labels were printed out using
Reports. Completed order data is then loaded
back into SAP nightly. As a result, Danfoss
to significantly stream-line their production
facility, reduce customer lead times and complete
the development of the software with no customisation
of SAP itself thus keeping project costs low.
Outdoor Marketing Systems is a Bristol-based
Bill Posting company with satellite branches
the south east. In addition, Postaweb are the
producers of the Postaweb online Bill Posting
verification system that is used by a number
18 so far) Bill Posting companies country-wide.
Due to the
distributed nature of Postaweb's business (a
database in Bristol and 21 satellites) a solution
was required that properly implemented an n-tier
Borland's 'DataSnap' distributed technology,
have produced a set of Client and Middle-Tier
applications that allow Postaweb to manage their
distributed data effectively. The whole system
is run through a web-based application server
with an Interbase 6 database tier.