STI (Sviluppo Tecnologie Industriali) is one of the most important calibration laboratories in Italy, accredited as Calibration Center Accredia in accordance with the standard UNI CEI EN ISO/IEC 17025.
In 2014 STI relied on MS Excel files to store measurements and metadata taken on each piece of equipment tested at the customer’s premises. Each file was based on a specific template depending on the type of equipment tested and on the type of measurements taken. Before each on-site inspection, the involved technicians used to copy the proper files on their laptops, so that they could manually compile them during the inspection and then save them into a global repository once back at the company headquarters.
STI considered convenient to keep using MS Excel files during inspections, as a practical way to enter measurements and metadata at the customer’s site, but it was struggling with the global repository where such files were accumulated. In fact, having all the company’s operational data scattered across a huge number of spreadsheets did not allow to get a global view of the performance of the overall business process, and to calculate cross-site statistics potentially valuable for the customers.
Using Livebase, STI has modelled and generated a very unusual hybrid system combining the ease of use and the flexibility of MS Excel as a tool to enter data during on-site inspections, and the reliability of an enterprise application capable to import such MS Excel files and store them into a well-structured relational database. For maximum flexibility and efficiency, the application also had to generate on-the-fly the right MS Excel files for each on-site inspection, based on a customizable template.
The final system developed with Livebase was effectively a vertical ERP for metrology managing all the information related to the calibration and certification process: customers and their equipment to be calibrated; reference samples used by STI for calibration; metadata on calibration procedures (e.g. the STI technician involved); measurements taken on each instrument and, for each measurement, the setup of the instrument used to measure. The generated application has been extended with algorithmic plugins dealing with all aspects of measurements, like precision and uncertainty.