Integrating weighbridge RTI with Excel

Real-Time Hardware Integration with Excel spreadsheet

Ibbotsons are a long established farming family who now provide highly specialised storage facilities for potato growers. They have a long-term relationship as a supply chain partner for McCains.

With an expanding business they wanted to automatically transfer weighbridge information into their existing spreadsheet using real-time Excel integration.

The Problem

As container lorries arrived information was copied manually from the weighbridge into an Excel spreadsheet. This was time-consuming and care had to be taken to ensure accuracy. Furthermore, with a paper based audit log it was becoming progressively harder to check and track data with ever increasing volumes of commodities arriving for storage.

Our client was very happy with the comprehensive Excel spreadsheet system they were using to run the business, so we did not need to change this or write a new database. All they required was real-time hardware integration with their existing software.

The Solution

We developed a Real Time Interface (RTI) system to link data output from their weighbridge indicator head unit into their Excel spreadsheet.

Although the Leon Engineering LD5218 Electronic Weighing Terminal was 10 years old, it worked well and staff were familiar with it. Buying a new head unit would have been expensive, however integrating with a legacy serial interface is relatively straight forward with a knowledge of low level serial communication. For Ibbotsons it was more cost effective for PC Access to build a custom interface DLL in C#, with a support module in Excel, using RS232/RS485 serial technology.

As vehicles arrive they are weighed, with the readings now automatically transferred into the Excel spreadsheet using the new weighbridge RTI that we developed. The Custom DLL speaks in real time to the weighbridge head unit, on the RS232/RS485 connection, to extract instantaneous as well as stable weight info from the device. The stable weight is transferred with a unique reference for auditing purposes.

With the weighbridge now fully integrated with their Excel spreadsheet, weighing goods in and out has been speeded up considerably and accuracy has been improved. Our client has been able to keep the existing Leon Engineering hardware minimising disruption for staff, and reducing costs considerably. Invoicing, auditing, reports and statistics, together with all business processes continue to be handled by their own existing XL spreadsheet.