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Oxford Instruments Builds Microsoft Access Web App

Oxford Instruments builds web app for preventative action using legacy Microsoft Access database.Manufacturing company builds web app for preventative action using legacy Microsoft Access database.

About Oxford Instruments

Oxford Instruments plc is a leading provider of high technology tools and systems for industry and research.

Situation

Oxford Superconducting Technology, a company of Oxford Instruments plc, has a corrective and preventive action (CAPA) system to identify and fix any issues in its manufacturing process, and to institute safeguards to prevent these problems from occurring again. Oxford was managing the second part of this system — preventive action—with a legacy Microsoft Access desktop application.

The company was experiencing scalability and performance issues with the Access desktop database and needed to migrate the backend from the MS Access workgroup-class database to a robust enterprise SQL database. The migration, however, introduced a whole new set of problems, because the old Microsoft Access front end didn't map well to the SQL fields on the new back end.

Complicating this, company officials decided the time was right to modernize the application to take advantage of the web and, ultimately, mobile devices. They wanted a contemporary cloud-based system that would let shop floor workers reliably manage preventive action efforts directly from their tablets as well as desktops. Raising the stakes even higher, company officials set a two-month deadline to prototype and produce the new custom web app.

Solution

Leading the project was Oxford Superconducting Technology's Business Analyst Sagrika Mehta. While Mehta holds a computer science degree and has experience in database management, she focused her career on IT analysis rather than programming. She started to work on scoping the project, and estimated the app build would require a large team of skilled programmers and lots of late-night man hours. Hearing this, a colleague recommended Alpha Anywhere.

Mehta downloaded Alpha Anywhere from Alpha Software's site and started playing around with the RAD IDE. To her surprise, in just two days she had prototyped three mission-critical forms. She leaned back in her chair and realized Alpha Anywhere could get Oxford on the fast track to launching their new preventive action app, and at a substantial cost savings to boot. One month later, Mehta had completed the design, build, and test of the new application.

Using Alpha's myriad RAD components, wizards, and "coding optional" technology, she rapidly and visually designed the database, forms, and business logic; and then connected that design to cloud, mobile, and desktop user experiences — all with no past programming experience.


Sagrika Mehta built a Microsoft Access web app."I was never keen on programming until I found Alpha Anywhere. The platform has shown me how easy it can be to build enterprise-grade, mission-critical apps. My colleagues are telling me I deserve a 'Best Programmer Award,' but the real honor goes to Alpha."

- Sagrika Mehta, Business Analyst, Oxford Superconducting Technology


Benefits

When Mehta unveiled the app, her colleagues told her she should get a "Best Programmer Award" for her amazing results. Alpha Anywhere let Mehta — a non-developer — created the enterprise-class B2B mobile business app Oxford needed with a single code base that meets 100% of the company's front- and back-end requirements, including support for tablets, smartphones, laptops, and desktops, as well as Microsoft SQL Server.

Replacing the old Microsoft Access database would have taken two to three months and multiple developers to build, yet it took one developer just 30 days with Alpha Anywhere, beating the project's deadline by half.

Thirty Oxford Superconducting Technology workers now use the app to easily and securely manage preventive action efforts from wherever they are on the shop floor, using tablets, continuing to ensure the company upholds its strict manufacturing policies and procedures. In fact, Mehta's success prompted Oxford to migrate several other applications to Alpha Anywhere, expanding the platform into a core piece of the company's IT infrastructure across multiple operational areas.

Build Microsoft Access Web Apps to take legacy Access desktop applications to mobile devices. Alpha Anywhere includes database templates and web app templates.

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About Author

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Chris Conroy

Chris Conroy runs digital programs for Alpha Software.

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