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TSC Business Solutions Ltd has recently completed the implementation of a barcode system to improve the efficiency of the Property Services store for New Forest District Council. The system enables stock transactions to be updated directly into the council’s Agresso Local Government ERP Platform from wireless hand held terminals without the need for middleware. 

Geographically New Forest District Council is the second largest District Council in the UK with 80,000 homes and over 250,000 people in its catchment area. Employing 1,400 staff the council region incorporates a national park and five leisure centres. Headquartered at Lyndhurst in Hampshire the council runs a busy Property Services department managing 5,500 homes and a number of sheltered accommodation properties and hostels. 

Ian Smoker, the Procurement Manager for Property Services, said “Our stores had always been run with pen and paper and, although efficient in its own way, we needed to improve and streamline the process. We felt that introducing barcodes was the way to do it”.

Situated at the Marsh Lane depot the centralised store for Property Services provides tools and raw materials for 80 tradesmen in Building Works, and for the “Street Scene” division that provides janitorial services for all the public toilets in the region, together with waste sack requirements for Environmental Services.

The stock system has been managed using UNIT4’s Agresso Local Government ERP Platform since 2002 but the use of paper forms and requisition dockets and the manual entry of the data from the forms led to stock inaccuracy and incorrect stock turns resulting in over stocking, obsolete stock and wasted money.

Agresso is a fully integrated role-focused ERP solution, ideal for service or people based organisations that need financial accounting and other back office software integrated with a broader range of core business functions in a single unified Platform. As a long-established global business solutions provider, UNIT4 helps dynamic organisations to embrace change simply, quickly and cost effectively.

TSC Business Solutions Ltd were awarded the contract to provide a solution using barcodes and hand held terminals that linked directly to Agresso.

With offices in Pewsey in Wiltshire and Perth in Scotland TSC is a premier provider of barcode tracking and identification systems. With a combined experience of over 50 years TSC supplies barcode scanners, label printing systems and portable data capture solutions to the retail supply chain, warehousing, distribution and logistics companies as well as councils and the NHS.

TSC implemented a system using Psion Workabout Pro hand held terminals with 1D barcode scanners linked to the stores Wi-Fi network. The software on the terminals was designed to provide a number of simple screens that enabled the users to book materials out to tradesmen against job numbers by scanning the barcode on the stock item and the job sheet. It then immediately updated the stock information within Agresso over the Wi-Fi network with no need for manual intervention. The system also enabled the entry of stock requests from hand written stock requisition forms. A stock take feature was also included. The main challenge to the implementation was the task of labelling the stores so a label printing system was provided to enable the stock and locations to be labelled with barcodes.

“The integration of our software into Agresso couldn’t have been easier and the technical support from UnNIT4 was second to none” said Keith Waterhouse of TSC, lead developer for the project.

“The new system now allows us to maintain a three months stock turn on the 2000 line items in our store” said Ian Smoker. “Projects like the boiler replacement program, loft insulation updates and bathroom and kitchen refurbishments are all now faster and more efficient. The immediate update of Agresso means time is saved on manual entry. The system has been accepted well by the staff and the greater accuracy has enabled us to reduce our stock significantly and save money. We are very pleased with the system and with TSC”

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