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Sabel Steel Goes Mobile for Accuracy and Time Savings


Chuk Shirley senior software engineer, Sabel Steel - Photo by Caleb Chancy

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Customer: Sabel Steel
Headquarters: Montgomery, Alabama
Business: New and scrap metal processing
Challenge: Improving scale operations
Solution: Developing a platform-agnostic mobile app to improve data input and worker efficiency
Hardware: IBM Power Systems server
Software: Zend’s Zend Server

Not too long ago, the big application modernization push was aimed at the desktop and Web environments—and rightfully so. Business users had grown accustomed to the point-and-click interfaces on their home computers and bemoaned the green screens and interfaces they had to wrestle with at work.

Now, a similar shift is occurring in the mobile space. Several factors are driving this shift but the most notable is the sheer number of mobile devices being deployed across company workforces. Their myriad uses range from simple on-the-go access to email to more complex interactions with back-end systems.

Workers out in the field or on the shop floor may not have ready access to a workstation or even a remotely connected laptop. They need a way to quickly tie into their core business applications on the spot, no matter where they’re located.

Sabel Steel discovered this when a state law required its scale operators to capture and record the state-issued IDs of people with whom they did business. Using workstations to accomplish this was possible but terribly inefficient. Even with scanning devices running optical character recognition (OCR) software, the process remained less than ideal.

That’s when the company decided to modernize its mobile devices—using Bluetooth, HTML5 and PHP solutions—to more easily gather information and immediately send it to its back-end systems. Now that it’s deployed this solution, Sabel’s scale operators are much more efficient and, in keeping with the law, the data they collect is 100 percent accurate.

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at jjutsler@provide.net.


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