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Case Study: Oxford Superconducting Technology

Oxford Superconducting Technology Breaks Free of Microsoft Access and Soars to the Mobile Cloud with Alpha Anywhere




"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 Software."

- Sagrika Mehta, Business Analyst, Oxford Superconducting Technology

About Oxford Instruments

Oxford Superconducting Technology plc is a leading provider of high technology tools and systems for industry and research. For more information on Oxford Superconducting Technology, visit www.oxford-instruments.com .

Situation

As with most manufacturing companies, New Jersey-based Oxford Superconducting Technology, a subsidiary 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 Superconducting Technology was managing the second part of this system—preventive action—with a legacy application built in Microsoft Access. The company was experiencing scalability and performance issues with the application, and needed to migrate the back-end from Access's workgroup-class database to a robust enterprise SQL database. The migration, however, introduced a whole new set of problems, because the old 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 B2B mobile enterprise app.

Solution

Leading the project was Oxford Superconducting Technology's Business Analyst Sagrika Mehta. While Mehta holds a computer science degree, 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 Superconducting Technology on the fast track to launching their new preventive action app, and at a substantial cost savings to boot. One month later, after attending a course offered by Alpha Softwares training partner, Twin Peaks Research, 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.

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—create the enterprise-class B2B mobile business app Oxford Superconducting Technology 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 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 Superconducting Technology 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.