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Author Topic: The inventory control question again...An idea..  (Read 11032 times)

Geri O'Neil

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The inventory control question again...An idea..
« on: September 19, 2006, 09:20:46 pm »

I'm sitting here struggling with my home-made paperwork of inventory tracking, repair tracking, and show schedules, and what a mess. There's got to be a better way, so I've come up with an idea.

There have been several inquiries lately about inventory control, including mine and I've come up with something. I've talked to a couple of folks here and I've come to realize that things like HireTrack, RentalDesk, and a couple of others are fine, but waaay too much sugar for a dime for companies like ours. And trying to learn something like Access or FileMaker to the point of making what I'm looking for is out of the question. So I'd like to propose something to the programmer-oriented member or members of the community. How about we come up with an idea for a simple, no-frills inventory-control program and can be written by someone here and offered for sale to the community whose needs it would suit? I'm talking a program that consists of a database of all of the equipment along with the ability to group together items (such as an FX rack or amp rack). Then you would have the ability to "book" an item or groups of items under two categories, either "show" or "rental", with the booking showing up in the database as "unavailable". A repair-tracking setion would be helpful (what the gear is, what's wrong, who's repairing it, tracking numbers, status in the inventory, etc.)For our needs, it doesn't have to have the value or depreciation listed. A "preventative maintinence" schedule would be cool, but not necessary. It doesn't need accounting capabilities. Personel info would be cool, but not necessary, as would trucking. Client info and/or sales info wouldn't be necessary, either. This would NOT take the place of HireTrack or such programs, but for smalled companies just needing to track where the gear is going, it would be fine. I still haven't found anything commercially available that fits this wish list. Maybe it could be written in modules such as sales, rentals, shows, trucking, personel, but then it would get complicated and encroach on the larger programs.

If this sounds like a doable idea, let's toss some things around. If not, let it crash and burn, won't hurt my feelings.
Gotta run, but I'll get back to this and see what we think...or don't...

(edited for speedy typing, girlfriend rang the dinner bell!)

Geri O
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Jonathan Woytek

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Re: The invenrtory control question again...An idea..
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2006, 10:15:26 pm »

I get paid to do stuff like this as a day job (well, not exactly anymore, but I still do this for pay as a consultant for some folks).  I think it might be interesting to take this on, but I'm going to need some specific help.  

I do have my own little sound company, and I'd love to have something like this--at the very least for tracking my own inventory and "cost to rent", etc.  I've been considering doing something like this for myself a lot lately, but haven't had the real push to do anything about it, figuring that I'd end up reinventing a part of the wheel that's already been invented for people like me.  

That said, I'm not big enough to do multi-part rentals, deal with trucking, etc.  That's a part of the business where I'd need help.  

Geri, if you're getting enough interest, I think that something like this would be worthwhile.  Before we could go very far, we would need to define a concrete set of requirements for "version 1", then we can grow from there.  The requirements will help to drive the decision on what base platform to use for this system, too.  For instance, if a lot of people on both the Mac and PC side want to use something like this, then Filemaker is one of the more obvious choices.  If people using this would be primarily PC-based, Access has its advantages and is easily scalable to larger systems.  If people want cross-platform happiness without the overhead of needing a filemaker runtime or Access, we could roll our own from scratch in Java.  

If you are getting sufficient interest, I'll create a wiki where we can work on the requirements collaboratively.  

One of the primary things that I think we should consider is whether this should be free or pay.  Personally, I don't care.  However, if we are going to do it for pay or any sort of fee, then we're going to have to work-out how that would work, too.  

jonathan
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Geri O'Neil

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Re: The invenrtory control question again...An idea..
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2006, 10:44:45 pm »

I thought I had mentioned the pay part in the original post, but no, I certainly don't expect someone or someones to write something like this for free. I was saying that let's have some ideas about what the program should be capable of, of course to not re-invent the wheel as you mentioned. Then, maybe the program could be offered for sale to the community members who would find it useful. Maybe even a stepping stone to the larger more involved programs. I don't know if this could approached like the Lab Sub project where Tom Danley so graciously provided his time and talents (not to mention possible competition to his future livelihood!) to make the Lab Sub project possible. hat woudl be nice, but I've no knowledge of the amount of work it would take (a LOT, to be sure), so I would not suggest that someone do it for free.

Geri O
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: The invenrtory control question again...An idea..
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2006, 10:58:10 pm »

Jonathan-

I'd be happy to contribute to the "wish list."  I'm not a DB programer, but I know what some of the things to track might be and how they relate to other things.

Count me in.

Tim Mc
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Geri O'Neil

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The database idea subthread
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2006, 11:16:57 pm »

Since I truly believe that the interest is out there ("If you program it, they will come"? Laughing ), I'll start the "official wish list",

Naturally, a maser database to work from. Info such as make, model, serial number, company inventory number. It would have a status listing, such as "available", "unavailable", "Out for repair", "Time for PM", etc.

A "group" database that would be items made up of individual components. A group could be an effects rack, amp rack, or maybe even a console, its power supply, and an EZ-Tilt. I see how this part could get confusing, so it might need some special treatment that anyone might come up with. I imagine that with some folks, the group's contents could change from week to week. That's not a big thing with us at the moment, our racks stay prett consistent.

Once this database is created, you can create a "booking". A booking could be classed as a "show" or a "rental". In either case, the listing would make a change of the item's status in the master database. I like the idea of bar-coding, but that might be too complicated and I do want to keep the program simple.

That's my start of things. I might add or change things as we go.

Geri O

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Adam Whetham

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Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2006, 11:44:50 pm »

I fully agree with this also.

Right Now our company has two offices 70 miles apart. I don't deal with our large production stuff. But i deal with our smaller rentals we deal with.. IE the speaker on a stick rentals with a talking head. (You can get some good income from these) And sometimes Something gets forgotten from a rental. Maybe I might double book a small Mixer. Or over book my PGX Wireless Lapel units.

Right now we haven't even bought software like hiretrack, etc. We just use Outlook on shared callendars so We can see whats going on with each shop.... tentativly see if somethings going out. etc.

If its something basic that does the trick. I Would love to find something simple. like this.

Callendar based.

Creat Job.(auto enter who puts job in. editable later)
Contact info of Job
Drag and drop items under job. (Items in a list organized in groups)
click next
Enter Load in/Load out== Pickup/Drop-off
Load in - Who will be there
Load out - Who will be there
NOTES
Alarm/reminder settings.

Saves after every step.

My basic Idea.

I realy think their is a demand for something like this. I would Love to support it.
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Mark Meagher

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Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2006, 12:50:55 am »

I'm in.

I was looking for something like this a few weeks back, actually started a year or so ago looking to track maintenance.
Most of the stuff that's out there that has interested me is known as "asset management" or "asset tracking" software and can get pretty elaborate and pretty salty, pretty quick.

I agree with everything that's posted so far as I can see a use for most of it in our place. With anything there will be some features and fluff that doesn't apply to your situation but that's ok.

I am particularly interested in the life cycle history of certain pieces of gear, ie: when and where purchased, when repaired, by whom, how much did it cost etc...

If you turn your gear over with any frequency and are constantly buying or selling gear, it can be a nightmare keeping the accountant up to speed on which gear is still on-hand and which needs pulled from the depreciation schedule. Not to suggest any accounting be included in this project but it sure would be nice to run a report with serial numbers and other info on what gear was bought or sold this year etc..

To expand on something already posted...the ability to create assemblies for things that have to be packaged, for instance a mixer and it's power supplies have to go out together and all the other gear that falls in that type of situation. (referential integrity for you programmer types). Our company is small enough that sometimes gear overlaps from one rig to another. A side fill stack on one rig might be a standalone main stack on a smaller rig. So it would be nice to make sure that it wasn't booked to be used in 2 different rigs in 2 different places on the same day.

It also would be nice (or maybe just a fantasy), for those that have web sites for this to be browser based so it could be accessed from the road at any time. OK. Maybe not such a great idea.

I did a bit of development work over the years but I am certainly NOT the one to spearhead this project but will be more than happy to help anyone who is truly an expert.

Didn't mean to write a book here. Just a few thoughts.

Whomever is the man for the job here, please stand up so we can give you the atta-boy and take this thing by the horns and get it rollin'.
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Darren Scaresbrook

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Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2006, 01:10:07 am »

Hi Geri,
Have a look at this website. The program is "Production Assistant", the company is based down here in Aus. I haven't used it personally but I know someone who has it and they seem to be getting along fine with it. I think the pricing is reasonable, I even seem to recall a free version for businesses with just a few users (dont quote me on this!).
Cheers
     Darren

http://www.productionassistant.com.au
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Stuart Hogg

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Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2006, 06:14:12 am »

Mark Meagher wrote on Wed, 20 September 2006 05:50

It also would be nice (or maybe just a fantasy), for those that have web sites for this to be browser based so it could be accessed from the road at any time. OK. Maybe not such a great idea.


When using Filemaker, it is relatively easy to publish the database as HTML. Obviously you then need some kind of password protected way of viewing it, but the basic web-publishing functionality comes out of the box.

This isn't to say "you must do it in Filemaker" - far from it in fact, but I'd expect that similar "webkit" type things will be available for Java, SQL, etc.

The other thing I've seen is a product called SyncDek (google it). Using this product each used keeps a complete copy of the database on their machine, and they are syncronised with each other using an smtp link. This has lower network overheads than looking at web pages, with the bonus being that if you don't have online access you can see everything that is in the database up until the last update, plus you can add bookings and have them sync later.

Syncdek is fearsomely expensive (otherwise I'd be using it for our own databases) but again this might be an approach that could work for a home brew solution.
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Geri O'Neil

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Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2006, 06:25:53 am »

Hi, Darren. Thanx for the suggestion, I have the free version and I think it could be what I'm looking for. But it kinda falls in the "too much sugar for a dime" category. Still, I haven't written it off just yet. Mark keeps talking about a Version 3 supposedly coming out that will have, among other things, barcode capability. Hope it comes out soon.

Geri O
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