Inventory Control: Using Software to Control Hardware

When you hear the words “software engineering” the logical conclusion is that software is involved, which is true. What is less obvious is that a lot of software is written for the purpose of controlling hardware.  
 
Since the beginning of the industrial age, people have used technology to improve their businesses. More recently, the development of the Internet of Things (IoT) has made it even easier to use hardware technology to solve business problems, and the possibilities are endless! Bit-Wizards has done a number of these projects over the last few years, several of which are related to inventory control.  
 

Reduce Laundry Losses  

Southern Management Group manages vacation rental property in the Florida Panhandle. As a vacation destination, there is a lot of property to manage. One of those aspects is housekeeping, and more specifically, the laundering of linens. Recent stats show that the company had about $1 million a year in lost linen which includes the obvious, like sheets and towels, as well as items like comforters, bathmats and kitchen towels.    
 
To combat this problem, we designed a custom solution that prints a ticket for each bag of linens going to or from a Southern Management Group laundry facility, providing them with an inventory control and management system. Some properties have 10+ bags for each turnover. Those tickets are easily scanned by their laundry facility staff using a handheld scanner. This system allows them to keep track of what linens have gone out, and more importantly, understand which ones haven’t been returned so they can track them down if needed.  
 

Fingerprints for Logging Loads  

Davis Mills is a logging operation that has loggers coming in around the clock. It was difficult for them to track exactly which loads were assigned to what logger/logging company. As a result, it was hard to manage inventory on location and to keep track of how many loads had been offered to specific companies according to their contracts.  
 
Bit-Wizards built a custom solution that scans a driver’s fingerprint when they arrive at the scale house. Based on that, only loads for that logger are made available for pick up. The application we built associates a logger’s fingerprints with their specific logging company, so Davis is able to use this process to keep track of how many loads are offered to any given company. With this, they are more easily able to report against their contractual obligations.  
 
  

Custom Engraved Chalices 

In a case unrelated to inventory, we used software to help Anheuser-Busch program an engraving kiosk for their Stella Artois product. Anheuser-Busch designed these kiosks to use in bars and at special events, so they needed to be durable and user friendly. The hardware itself was built in Colorado, but Bit-Wizards provided the programming that tells the laser engraver what to etch on a glass Stella Artois chalice.    
 
There is a touch screen on the engraver that walks the user through the process of choosing an icon for the front and optionally for the back. It also allows users to enter a name to be engraved on their custom glass. Bit-Wizards built a portal that tracks each kiosk across the country, provides software updates wirelessly to the kiosks, and allows custom icons to be included on the kiosks for special events (like the Super Bowl)!  Learn more about this project here.
 
These are just a few of the cases where we used software in conjunction with hardware to solve a company’s problem or innovate a process. These projects involved technology like barcode scanners, biometrics, and lasers, but we’ve also done work with mobile phones, tablets, electronic scales, RFID, and a number of other things to develop solutions for our customers.  
 
If you’re interested in a project that uses software to control hardware, contact the Bit-Wizards Software Engineering team today! 
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Darin Smith, Project Manager
Darin R. Smith

Project Manager

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