15 January 2008

Real World Access (34)

One of a series of articles about where Microsoft Office Access applications have found a real-world niche.

 Glenn Lloyd's Distribution

Bulk Product Information Management and Reporting

My client, the regional manager for a major multi-national corporation, is responsible for the storage and distribution of a small variety of bulk products throughout a vast geographical area.

The company operates a main storage and handling facility that periodically receives stock via cargo ship and several sub-terminals located at strategic points in the region.

From the main terminal the company distributes bulk products to the sub-terminals and to industrial customers in the terminal’s vicinity. Sub-terminals, in turn, distribute product to industrial customers within their respective territories. The company distributes and re-distributes its products within the region by bulk highway transport.

The company’s global data handling and reporting system focuses on the 'big picture'. As such, it is not suited to meeting more detailed and immediate management information needs at lower levels of the corporation.

My client required comprehensive and timely reporting of ongoing business activity on a terminal by terminal basis. He had initially asked that I develop an Excel based solution for him.

However, it became clear to me, after reviewing the activities and needs he was expressing, that a worksheet approach would be cumbersome to develop and maintain. On the other hand, the data management aspects of my client’s needs indicated that a database oriented solution would be far more suitable in the long run.

After further review and discussion, we decided that Access would be the appropriate vehicle to implement the solution.

The Access application provides a form-based user interface for the collection and update of manually entered data. The interface also provides for the import of Excel data in some cases.

The system includes on demand reporting of product activity, inventory balances, customer activity, summary sales data, overtime useage, and maintenance and safety activity by product, terminal, region and customer.

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