FileMaker Pro Plugins & Solutions

A FroodboX for Easyblast - a case study

We thought it would be good to show an example of what you can do with the Froodbox. For a company called Easyblast we automated their machineroom by using the FileMaker Pro platform together with the FroodboX. 

Easyblast

How it was... 
Easyblast is a company in the south of the Netherlands (St. Maartensdijk) which has a machine room with three spray cabins, a powder oven and a sandblasting cabin. These machines are used for their own spray paint projects, but are also available to clients who want to do their own spray jobs. For this purpose the machines were equipped with coin machines; people could buy coins at the counter and use them to start one of the machines. Each coin would give them 10 minutes of machine time. 

What Easyblast wanted:
Instead of the coin machines with their fixes times Easyblast was looking for a system where clients would each get a client card which they could use to start and stop the machines, and the spent time would automatically be calculated and ready to be invoiced. Apart from that they also wanted the option to use the QR cards as -project cards’- for their own eployees so that the software would automatically track the time spent on each project. 

An extra technical wish was that the fans of these machines need a turn-off delay so that the fans keep on spinning for a programmable time after the machine is stopped. 



One of the Easyblast company cars

FroodboX being connected

One of the spray cabins with the iPad mounted in a protecting case

Engineer Lammert van der Pol adjusting the machines for use with the FroodboX  

The new system

After discussing the needs of Easyblast we came up with the following setup:
One desktop machine with software to issue invoices, client QR cards, book payments and manage the machines and iPads. The iPads would login to this desktop through WiFi and contain and present the user interface to scan the clients QR cards, start and stop the machine, give the clients the option to adjust their account details and show instructions for each machine. One FroodboX with 10 relais to control the machines and the fans.The FroodboX is connected through ethernet to the Mac.

Hardware
One Mac Mini with FileMaker Pro, five iPads in protecting cases each mounted on one of the five machines, and an ethernet/WiFi router to talk to the FroodboX and the iPads. Then of course a printer and a bar/QR code scanner fore the Mac Mini. For the rest some cabling between the relais (switches) in the FroodboX and the machines. 

Software
For the FileMaker solution we used our company management system BuzzM as a starting point.We extended BuzzM with extra FileMaker modules that control the FroodboX and the communication with the iPads.
BuzzM already contains a contacts module, we added the option to generate and print client’s cards with a QR code. Each client can enter his/her details on one of the iPads when they log in with their QR card. A timing module was added so that FileMaker Pro (FMP) could track the start and stop times and logged in clients. Apart from that there is a module that controls the machines. Each machine needed two switches (relais); one to control the actual process, the other to control the fan with a delay. 


An overview of the setup

The setup screen in the desktop solution

The dashboard where all machines are monitored and controlled

Hardware Installation

For this project we worked closely together with Lammert van der Pol, a free lance electrical engineer who is also a PLC expert. He modified all machines and prepared all wiring for the system. The FroodboX was assigned to a fixed IP address and the relais -that are mapped to machine functions in FileMaker-  are connected to the PLC’s inside the machines by Lammert. 

Software Installation

The iPads are all configured in kiosk mode and only contain FileMaker Go, the FileMaker Solution for iOS. The iPads log in to the Mac Mini which contains FileMaker Pro Advanced running the desktop solution and the user interface  for the iPads. This makes updating very easy, we never need to update the iPads themselves, only the software on the Mac Mini.  Each iPad and associated machine has a named entry in the FileMaker Solution and the status of the whole system can be monitored and controlled at a glance in the dedicated dashboard screen.

The desktop from where the system is controlled, invoices can be made, items can be scanned, etc.

The FroodboX ready for work

The iPad screen when not logged in.

The iPad screen when logged in.

The system at work

Both Easyblast and their clients are very happy with the system. Login in and out is much more flexible now, no coins anymore, and for Easyblast it is also a big improvement that he can now track time and machine usage automatically for each project they works on. There is much less overhead, finances are easier to manage, etc.
Below a short video where you can see someone logging in and out. 

iPad mounted and ready to go...

And another one...

Close up of login screen

Machine running

The name Froodware comes from the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy dictionary.
A Frood is:
1. Really amazingly together guy,
2. A person who really knows where his/her towel is.

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