Alpha DevCon Engineering Roundtables

Alpha Anywhere Case Study: Lilliput


Irish Laundry Handles Millions of Pieces of Inventory, RFID Tags, with Alpha Anywhere





The reasons we use Alpha Anywhere boil down to productivity, which equals value. It also offers power and stability. Our team is able to produce high-quality systems that are highly flexible, intuitive and rock solid in less time. It really comes down to providing more value for less cost."


— Tom Simon, co-owner of Web App Express


About

Web App Express builds data-driven custom mobile and web applications. It provides solutions to companies and organizations spanning more than 40 industries and various governmental entities, as well

Lilliput Services is the largest independent commercial/industrial laundry in Ireland.

The Challenge

Lilliput handles approximately 500,000 pieces of laundry a week from hotels, hospitals and other businesses. It owns most of the laundry stock, such as pillow cases, sheets and table linens, and rents them out to companies that contract for cleaning services.

Managing millions of pieces of inventory spread across a vast client base is a daunting task. Lilliput was losing a significant percentage of its laundry stock, which had a direct effect on its bottom line. To solve the problem, Lilliput attempted to utilize bar codes to track each piece of laundry stock, but that did not prove effective. Bar codes sometimes rubbed off and it became too time-consuming to scan every single item.

Lilliput turned next to RFID tags, which were more effective, because entire bags of laundry could be scanned at a time. However, the company's existing software didn't work properly with RFID tags, so a new system was required.

Solution

Lilliput contracted with the consulting company Sedo Unus, owned and run by Aaron Kurth, to oversee the development of the new solution. Kurth recalls, "I knew the new system had to be Web-based, had to run off a substantial database, and had to be able to build mobile apps. I also wanted it to be easy to use and flexible. After some research, I found Alpha Anywhere, which did everything I needed."

Through Alpha Anywhere, Kurth was put in touch with Web App Express. Kurth set out the business requirements and partnered with Web App Express to create technical specifications, design the database and develop the new system.

"Alpha Anywhere is the ideal platform for the system we built for Lilliput," says Scott Lines, co-owner of Web App Express. "It's powerful and flexible, so we were able to meet the company's precise needs. As Lilliput's requirements changed, we could easily keep up. And Alpha Anywhere also made it easy to design and build the mobile components that Lilliput needed."

The system Web App Express built is comprehensive. It handles the entire laundry business process, starting with inputting and managing orders, then tracking inventory, shipping, receiving, and laundering articles. Closing the loop, the system handles invoicing and seamlessly connects to Lilliput's accounting system.

As the linens leave Lilliput and come back, a mobile RFID scanning app, built using Alpha Anywhere, extracts all the information from the embedded RFID chips, and updates the database. Lilliput's knowledge of its inventory is vastly improved and so is their bottom line. The entire system is built on Alpha Anywhere.


The provider of [Lilliput's] old software system was going to charge a base price of $140,000 to update it to work with RFID tags, and then add costs on top of that for customization. With Alpha Anywhere, the costs didn't come near that."


Benefits

Lilliput's investment in its new Alpha Anywhere based system from Web App Express has already paid off handsomely and in many ways..

"Lilliput had to have a new software system. The provider of their old software was going to charge a base price of $140,000 to update its system to work with RFID tags, and then add costs on top of that for customization. With Alpha Anywhere and Web App Express, the costs didn't come near that," recalls Kurth.

Benefits of the system touch every aspect of Lilliput's operations.

"Lilliput keeps track of more than 150,000 unique items with the system now," Kurth says. "It knows where they are at in the plant, when they leave the plant, where they've gone, and when they come back. That's really the key to everything. Over time it will tag and track hundreds of thousands more."

By tracking each piece of linen in this way, Lilliput has gained unprecedented control of its inventory and cut down on the number of items that are lost or unaccounted for.

"Lilliput used to spend a half a million pounds a year to replace lost stock," Kurth says. "With the new system, that number has been reduced dramatically. We're still running the exact numbers on how much savings there has been, but I can tell you that it is quite substantial."

Customer satisfaction has improved as well. Customers sometimes don't know exactly what linen they have on hand from Lilliput. But with the new system, Lilliput knows down to the piece what each customer has, and can provide that information for them at a moment's notice.

The new system also reduces the amount of paper that Lilliput uses to track linen, leading to savings of approximately a ton of paper a month.

"The new Alpha Anywhere system created by Web App Express gives us everything we need," Kurth concludes. "It saves money, gives Lilliput more flexibility in the way it works, reduces lost stock, and improves customer satisfaction."


The new Alpha Anywhere system created by Web App Express gives us everything we need. It saves money, gives Lilliput more flexibility in the way it works, reduces lost stock, and improves customer satisfaction."