I need your advice on developing an factory pr. tracking app

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Lachie Dazdarian
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I need your advice on developing an factory pr. tracking app

Postby Lachie Dazdarian » Feb 11, 2013 22:22

Hi.

I'm trying to lobby in my company for a new program for tracking daily production because the current one is driving me crazy and can't even support the newest size of our production park (since mid 2012!). The management doesn't want to deal with this problem at the moment, while I think it's critical (we are growing; and I'm masking the problem with the extra effort put into manual data collecting, from which I’m getting sick off), so I would like to do some research beforehand before making my case in front of the bosses, and explore the possibility of doing this program myself, that is, finding the best tools for it. So I'm looking for some advice, opinions from proficient programmers, possibly those experienced in programming professional business applications, on my problem.

What this program should do?

Well, currently it comes down to inputting products in rows representing production lines, with data like norm, worker and number of produced units, all in an excel like table (I think the current program was done in Visual BASIC, but very poorly coded and cumbersome to use), which then calculates the daily production, in units and revenue, and also calculates some other data, like maximum capacity, money lost of machine adjusting (when switching from one product to another or on machine breakdown), etc. None of this data is saved in any useful database, in the current program. It's basically a fancied up spreadsheet.

This is how it looks like:
Image

But my idea is only to copy its appearance roughly.

My vision of the new program is for it to be split in two modules, to break the workload of data inputting and maintaining the database it in two parts.

The first module would be used to input the data for each production day by the production department. Their job would be to input, for each production line and each shift: the product/norm (saved from day before), worker (saved from day before) and the number of produced units. Because of the intensive production cycle, the program would have to allow 4 workers per shift (they jump from one production line to another production line) and 4 products per production line (per day). It would be like a table with big rows representing production lines (definable and addable in module 2) with 4 sub-rows inside them for 4 possible products. The program would have to allow choosing workers from a database (drop-down list), as well as products, but it should also allow inputting new products manually, as we introduce new products on daily basis. Other boxes to fill out would include stuff like the number of work order, machine adjuster names, and control room staff on call for that shift.

My idea is to separate the shifts in clearly divided sections (but last products on each production line would be "pulled" from one shift before) maybe sheets, but exiting/entering new shifts would have to be visually noticeable, as I imagined the data for each shift to be filled out by that shift supervisor.

This data would be saved in some undefined file format, but readable by the second module.

The second module would be the program we have now, but instead of having to manually collect and input this data in the program, I would load up these files, fix mistakes, input the prices for new products (if such appear), check or fill out work order boxes if they have been omitted, press on the CALCULATE button, and viola! Get the result I want.

The new functionalities we don’t have now, but really need to implement would include:

A proper database that stores data (or reads it from daily production sheets) for each worker (what he did each day, what product, on what line, how many pieces he produced, etc.), as well as for each product (through time, on what production line that product was made, by which worker, ...etc). It would also allow separating the products according to customers and storing that data in a database, from which I could extract the number of pieces and/or revenue for any desired period.

Each product would be defined by 5 elements: name, price, raw material, customer (always the same for a specific product) and empty 5th element for any usage we might find necessary.

Another functionality would be the print-out of two reports, of informative nature. One for warehouse personnel showing which raw material entered the production according to which work order, and the other for logistics, containing information on which finished products entered stock according to what work orders / order numbers.

In my rudimentary programming knowledge, I think this can be done in 16-24 hours, if the programmer is well instructed, and has a good breakfast. :)

But I would like to get your opinion on the complexity of this program, your estimate on the number of hours necessary to produce it, and maybe if you are willing to guess a ballpark figure for such application.

I would also appreciate your advice on which programs/compilers/libraries would be the best tools to produce such application.

Thanks guys!
TJF
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Re: I need your advice on developing an factory pr. tracking

Postby TJF » Feb 12, 2013 7:10

Lachie Dazdarian wrote:But I would like to get your opinion on the complexity of this program, your estimate on the number of hours necessary to produce it, and maybe if you are willing to guess a ballpark figure for such application.

I would also appreciate your advice on which programs/compilers/libraries would be the best tools to produce such application.

For me this sounds like

  • FreeBasic
  • GTK
  • SQLite3 (or MySql)

Lachie Dazdarian wrote:In my rudimentary programming knowledge, I think this can be done in 16-24 hours, if the programmer is well instructed, and has a good breakfast. :)

Say weeks instead of hours (and concentrate on coding, not on breakfast ; ) to end-up with a prototype for both moduls. But each solution generates at least two new requirements and you'll need 16 to 24 month to be satisfied with your product (some new data evaluation, printing of reports, data archiv, error handling ...).
anonymous1337
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Re: I need your advice on developing an factory pr. tracking

Postby anonymous1337 » Feb 12, 2013 15:02

An application like this would probably take a few hours to get at least one bit of important functionality prototyped and a couple days (6 - 8 hours a day) to prototype most of the app with at least 1 - 2 common use case scenarios. Additional architectural aspects of the project - security, localization, plugins, user logins, email alerts, error logging, data syncing across machines, "user friendliness", reports, etc. - will take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on how much they're needed, the developer's familiarity with these concepts and how well-synced stakeholders are. That will produce a proof-of-concept and tell us whether or not it's something we want to invest serious time in.

After that, most development would consist of sketching out use case scenarios/workflows and performing the development necessary to support them. Assuming simple workflows take a few hours or less (click x, see confirmation message y, arrive at z) and more complex ones take several days (intensive planning, development, iteration), we're looking at anywhere from weeks to months of additional development before one user or user group would consider the product satisfactory.
Lachie Dazdarian
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Re: I need your advice on developing an factory pr. tracking

Postby Lachie Dazdarian » Feb 12, 2013 22:27

Not sure I like what I hear TJF.

I will try to see if I can speed it up by devising very specific wish-list and visual appearance of the application, and see if I can find someone to prototype it quickly. I know exactly what I want to the last detail, and most "advanced" functionalities, are nothing but plain reports from well constructed databases.
ike
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Re: I need your advice on developing an factory pr. tracking

Postby ike » Feb 12, 2013 23:06

vb6 + http://www.grid2000.com/images.html

I use this grid for 6-7 yeras (save it own format and export to xls, pdf)

I wouldnot use any database for this. Just Grid and save as xls
BasicCoder2
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Re: I need your advice on developing an factory pr. tracking

Postby BasicCoder2 » Feb 13, 2013 10:44

[delete]
Last edited by BasicCoder2 on Feb 15, 2013 20:18, edited 9 times in total.
St_W
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Re: I need your advice on developing an factory pr. tracking

Postby St_W » Feb 13, 2013 13:01

I'd take C# for that:
  • Its completely free, no need to buy extra components. Visual Studio Express is free also for commercial use.
  • Includes a great and powerful UI-Designer for both WinForms and WPF, no matter what you choose
  • LINQ to SQL allows really easy Database queries in your code - you can choose nearly any DB you want.
  • A powerful Grid Control is provided out of the box
  • ...

I wouldn't use FreeBasic for that, because fast UI-prototyping is definitely one of the weaknesses of the FreeBasic Tools. (FbIde doesn't support any UI-Design; FBedit only provides a simple Dialog Resource Editor, which makes it complicated to create the code afterwards; and other IDEs are still to come).

I wouldn't use at all something completely outdated, unsupported and discontinued like VisualBasic 6.x and previous versions.

I also doubt that 24 hours is a realistic number - even if you use C#. I would assume that you need some weeks for that, even if you're an experienced C# developer. If you use FreeBasic or similiar language it probably takes months to realise that.
anonymous1337
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Re: I need your advice on developing an factory pr. tracking

Postby anonymous1337 » Feb 13, 2013 17:13

I also doubt that 24 hours is a realistic number - even if you use C#. I would assume that you need some weeks for that, even if you're an experienced C# developer. If you use FreeBasic or similiar language it probably takes months to realise that.

I think it depends on how well the requirements are understood.

C#, ASP.NET, IIS, SQL Server Express, SQL Server Management Studio Express, Microsoft SQL Server Roles/Permissions for ASP.NET, MVC 4, EntityFramework, jQuery, jQuery UI, Zurb Foundation/a CSS framework, Visual Studio, possibly Team Foundation Server, Ninject, log4net and MVC Mailer.

I've been thinking of the tools I'd use to start on something like this. I do think 24 hours is way more than enough time to get something substantial done - assuming that time is spent on actual development, not just project planning, correspondence, etc.

And that's as a web app. Absolutely nothing wrong with WPF - form (sic) what I've read about it, it's pretty awesome :)
petan
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Re: I need your advice on developing an factory pr. tracking

Postby petan » Feb 14, 2013 13:58

If builded on FBGFX elementary commands, I see this build in days by skilled FB coder (numeric data jobs), with daily time consuption of 8-10 hours.Max deadline must be under 4 weeks to full operational level, t.m. proggy works OK with final layout of data in/out/read/save.Only small graphics layout changes after.

Remembering times I had payed jobs& working sometimes 20 hours daily under time pressure.
NEVER more.

Don't worry to add this as new simple project for simulating a primitive datasheet with fixed formulas / as teaching material for people /.
Growing from mind pseudo-code to changeable routines with advices of forum members, I see no problem.

Pete
petan
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Re: I need your advice on developing an factory pr. tracking

Postby petan » Feb 15, 2013 9:51

Just only short mindshot ;) ,U 'll need such as>

* start/stop proggy
* set/enable scene
* set colors
* load images to building report
* set/define/create/load data structure/arrays/variables
* check, log-in/out user+timestamp
- enable user access/write rights
* show main menu of allowed actions
- actions
- read/fill/print/save allowed fields
- saving with user ID+timestamp identification
- print XX.YY.ZZZZ day's ALL prodigy report
- print XX.YY.ZZZZ day's partial prodigy report of something
- set/check day
........
- ??? ( some anothers )
- End of prog

Pete
Merick
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Re: I need your advice on developing an factory pr. tracking

Postby Merick » Feb 16, 2013 17:51

If I had to make something like this, here's how I would do it:

step 1:
download Open Office (http://www.openoffice.org/)

step 2:
go to the Open Office forums (http://forum.openoffice.org/) and read through everything I could find on building a multi-user database, maybe post a diagram of what I needed and see if anyone would be willing to take me through the steps needed to turn the diagram into a working database.

Why create a whole new program when there is a free and open source app that can probably already do everything you want?
Lachie Dazdarian
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Re: I need your advice on developing an factory pr. tracking

Postby Lachie Dazdarian » Feb 16, 2013 22:22

Thanks. I checked some of OpenOffice Base features, and it seems quite powerful. But the key word here is "probably".

I'm really convinced that I need something code generated, because this is not an app that will only be used by me, it will need to black box a lot of things, and there are some specific details I don't think any Spreadsheet + Base type of program can handle.

This is the idea of module 1, as an excel file, if you are curious: http://lachie.phatcode.net/module1and2_layout.xls
Image: http://img651.imageshack.us/img651/5059/module1png.png

A detail I forgot to mention in the idea spreadsheet. Example: when a product in row 1 for a specific production line from shift 1 ended, that row must be greyed out in shift 2. If the next product in that production line also ended in shift 2, in shift 3, first two rows should be greyed out (unavailable). For every new day (shift 1), all products start in row 1. So you see, a lot of little details easily solved in any programming language, but when using stuff like Excel and its variants...cumbersome. Maybe macros, but it's back to programming. Why not using it from the start?
Last edited by Lachie Dazdarian on Feb 16, 2013 23:15, edited 1 time in total.
BasicCoder2
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Re: I need your advice on developing an factory pr. tracking

Postby BasicCoder2 » Feb 16, 2013 23:03

Is there any reason not to use Visual Basic to automate an Excel implementation?
Lachie Dazdarian
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Re: I need your advice on developing an factory pr. tracking

Postby Lachie Dazdarian » Feb 16, 2013 23:16

I'm somehow convinced Excel can't do all I want, despite VB macros. Maybe I'm wrong, but if I'm already going have to learn VB myself, I rather create a full blown VB app that interacts with an Access or SQL database.
BasicCoder2
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Re: I need your advice on developing an factory pr. tracking

Postby BasicCoder2 » Feb 17, 2013 0:08

[delete]
Last edited by BasicCoder2 on Feb 17, 2013 21:23, edited 1 time in total.

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