Integration

Written by Richard on February 11, 2015

Get your shades! Future is looking mighty bright on things to come in VISUAL 8!

Ryleigh
Ryleigh's reaction when I told her about VISUAL 8

Just got back from the Infor Partner Conference last week....and I gotta tell you that I was floored on all the new features and functions that are coming down the pipe with VISUAL 8.  Rich Lagoy and Frank Maglio did a great job on presenting (and demo'ing!) VISUAL 8 and discussing the products' roadmap.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Macros will be managed within the database
  • VISUAL API Suite -  That's right, the COM objects are back!  They will be upgraded and incorporated into a full API suite and part of the VISUAL core.  Oh, did I mention that they will be supported and documented?  What does this mean to the VISUAL user? Integrating to VISUAL will be easier, faster, more secure.
  • Built-in Automation of Processes - You will now be able to autorun Global Scheduler, Costing, MRP and VISUAL Analytics
  • New UI, Navigation, and Document Information Capture
    • New and improved Graphical Document Lifecycle.
    • You want more drill down capabilities?  You got 'em - even at the order line level!
    • Source & Target Navigation - Easily walk through the lifecycle of a document to view upstream or downstream relationships.  For example, from the Customer Order you can jump to the corresponding quote and/or the packlist(s).
    • Activities and Reminders - You can now create and log activities on all documents - allowing you the ability to categorize and record various “activities”.  In addition, users can set follow-up reminders associated with these activities.
    • Enhanced Query Tool - Yes this little tool is undergoing a much needed facelift.  You will be able drag and drop tables and fields into the query window, export results to Excel and save to the database.
  • Wait until you see the View Panels.  Major Enhancements!  They can display data graphically which you can also drill-down into for details.  So many features have been added that each document can have it's own living dashboard/KPIs metrics.
  • Dashboards, Dashboards and more Dashboards - Remember EIS?  Those days are long gone and forgotten! Amazing stuff - and very much needed.
  • VISUAL Mobile Automation
  • Customer Sponsored Feature Enhancements - You've asked for them - so you're getting them.  Thank you very much
    These are just a few - but there's many:
    • Print Packlists by warehouse or territory
    • Customizable UDFs on AR, AP and GL Entry modules
    • View Work Order Receipts option from the Manufacturing Window
    • On-hand balance check when backdating in Inventory Transaction Entry window
    • Printing associated documents when printing a range of Work Order Travelers
    • Security Enhancements - Permission settings to Add & Delete parts, customers and vendors
    • Added "Entered By" fields to Customer Order Entry (in both the header and line level)
    • Vendor Supplying Part - ability to add the same vendor more than once to a part.
    • Added OnDelete and OnAfterDelete for macros
    • Supplier Performance window - to compare performance on delivery and quality

I should add a disclaimer here only to let you know that what was presented on VISUAL 8 may change - many factors can affect Infor’s product development plans and the nature, content and timing of future product releases, all of which remain in the sole discretion of Infor.

That beings said - I'm anxiously looking forward to VISUAL 8!

 

Written by Brent on October 30, 2012

Keeping your macros and configuration (ini) files current across your VISUAL network

VISUAL macros are computer-specific - meaning if you create a macro on one computer it won't be accessible from another computer unless you copy it and place on that computer.  This may not always be true in a Citrix/Terminal Services environment - but let's assume this is not the case. 

The same holds true for the VISUAL configuration files.  I'm talking about those "ini" files that hold your default settings, grid layouts, screen sizes and position, etc.

If you want every VISUAL user to have access to all macros and also want them to have the same VISUAL configurations - you will need to physically copy the files (macros and INIs) to each computer on your network.  Now consider every VISUAL module can have it's own set of macros and configuration file - that's a lot of files to manage across your network!  Now think about keeping those files current of any changes or modifications - giving you a headache yet?

One way to manage this is through the use of a login script.  The script can copy over the default configuration files and all current macro revisions from a central repository down to the user's computer or profile.

Here's an example of what that script might look like - modify it to suit your environment.  In this script, it will copy over the current macro revisions and only the configuration files that do not exist in the user's local directory.    

Download LoginScript


Brent Fanguy is our special guest author at visualnuggets.com and is the IT Director at CORTEC Fluid Control. You'll find Brent contributing and assisting fellow VISUAL users on LinkedIn and Yahoo forums.

Connect with Brent online at LinkedIn 

Written by John on October 24, 2012

Why your PURCHASED parts material cost reset to zero after a cost implosion

Purchased parts are NOT affected by a cost implosion, only manufactured parts are. 

However it is critical to note that the purchased and fabricated flags (in the settings area) DO NOT drive this behavior.  The cost implosion behavior is driven by the Engineering Master field.

Infor VISUAL ERP - Part Maintenance Window
Part Maintenance Window

If this field is blank (NULL) then the part is considered purchased regardless of the purchased/fabricated check box setting.   If the Engineering Master field is not blank (NOT NULL) then the part is considered to be fabricated and costs will be updated by the cost implosion function. This is true regardless of the purchased/fabricated check box settings.

So if you are getting ZERO costs on a part that has its PURCHASED check box checked, it is likely that:

  1. the part's Engineering Master field is populated
  2. and that the EM exists (or it would throw an error during the implosion)
  3. and that the EM is empty (no operation or material cards)
  4. or that the EM is not empty but all the cards have zero qty / run rates or zero costs

 

Written by Wayne on September 25, 2012

Document Management (Process Drawings)

Infor VISUAL ERP - Document ManagementIn the Visual forum, there have been discussions of several different methods in which Visual Manufacturing users are attaching documents to items such as workorders, parts and customer orders.  This article will explain how one company’s unique way of achieving this, and will give a quick overview of their decision to use a custom application.  The company, Triumph Gear Systems, is an aerospace manufacturing company located in Macomb, Michigan.  Triumph developed in-house software application they call the Job Tracking System (JTS).  The application not only manages documents, but allows users to view all aspects of the workorder.  In the discovery stage of developing a method to link documents to work orders, macros did not exist.  Also, the document maintenance feature within Visual Manufacturing was at its infancy stage and limited in functionality.  The purpose of this article is to describe the method that Triumph employed to store, link, and retrieve Process Drawings.  Other areas such as Tooling and Customer Orders will follow in future articles.

Project

The scope of the project was to design a system that would allow the company to link any document to areas within Visual Manufacturing such as:

  • Workorders
  • Customer Orders
  • Part Maintenance

The outcome of this project had to be simple enough for users with little or no computer experience to be able to view documents with ease.  It also had to be versatile enough to except any file format to address the challenge of different software applications for documents amongst its customers.  The system would have to work with the existing Visual Manufacturing software.  And per the dictate, as is found with most IT projects, it needed to be achieved with minimal or no additional data entry.  As you will see the company found a unique way of getting the information needed in a way that required no additional workload.

The amount of workorder splits and multiple lots that are created on a daily basis would make the administrative task of keying in documents for each work order, lot, split, substitute would be enormous.  Coupled with the number of operations on a workorder, this task can become overwhelming at times.  It is not uncommon to have 50-100+ operations for each of upwards of 1300 active work orders in this example.  Further, each operation can have from one to several drawings pertaining to it.  The vast number of files accumulates quickly and therefore a large storage area on the network was required. 

File Structure

Infor VISUAL ERP - File StructureTo start, review of how the Process Drawings are saved is warranted.  In this instance, Triumph uses AutoCAD as their software of choice.  In order to eliminate a user keying in each drawing to multiple jobs, they use the power of JTS to find the correct documents by parsing through the files on the server.  This is accomplished by using a file structure on the server that consists of the part number, workorder number, lot, split, and sub.  In the example, you will see the structure with part_id (218531), base_id (20283A) and lot_id (1).  When the software searches for the list of files it first looks for the part.id, base_id, lot_id, split_id, and sub_id.  If the sub_id directory does not exist for the workorder sub_id then the software reverts back one step to the files under the split_id.  If there is no directory for the split_id the software reverts back to the files under the lot_id and so forth.  This eliminates having to copy files from one lot_id, split_id or sub_id to another when the files are the same.  If the files change for the split_id or sub_id then they load files within the correct directory.  All file names for workorder operations are prefixed with the 3 digit operation number allowing easy identification to the correct operations.  When there are multiple documents per operation a suffix is added in the form of letters A, B, C, or an attached description could be used at the end of the operation number.  Once these files are in place engineering is done with their process and the documents are viewable within JTS.  

Job Tracking System (JTS)

Infor VISUAL ERP - Job Tracking SystemAs soons as the files are in place anyone with permissible access can view, print, or email the drawings.  JTS allows the users access to job specific information with a drill-down approach to view as much information as needed.  In the screenshot of the Job Tracking Software you will see that all the information is on one screen and they are just a click away from anything they need to know to get their job done.  The system is set-up to view any document file format as long as the user has the associated application to view it.  The only exception to this would be AutoCAD, which is accessed using a viewer that is integrated within the application.  This eliminates the need for the company to install an AutoCAD viewer on all end user computers and gives the company control on who can view, print, or email files.    

File Viewer

Infor VISUAL ERP - File ViewerOnce the user clicks on the Eng Docs tab at the lower half of the JTS screen a list of all the documents for the workorder is generated in the tab.  Double-clicking on a file within this tab will display the file.  JTS has also proven to work very well with the thin clients that Triumph has in the manufacturing area.  This reduced the need for expensive computers and high end graphic cards to view AutoCAD files. 

Security

For security reasons the typical users does not have rights to view the process drawings directory.  The application is configured to go through a web server to retrieve information.  This is also the same method used when viewing a file.  The web server has access to view the Process Drawings directory and the application uses it to access the results returned by the web server.  This was a measure of added security that was taken to protect the company and our customer’s intellectual property.  The application security for logging into JTS uses the same security as Visual Manufacturing.  The user logs in using their Visual user id and password.  JTS determines if this is a valid user id and password and grants or denies access at that point.  The security used for each module in JTS consists of a record to the APPLICATION table describing the application and using the Program Security application built into Visual Manufacturing.  This allows Full, None, and Read rights to the application by user.

Conclusion

This solution works well for companies with document storage needs.  In the instance of the company Triumph, they have been using it successfully for several years now.  Once establishing the criteria and related procedure for the placement of files, all the existing files were moved to this new format, with no incident.   The custom application that was developed saves time by using the power of the computer to search for the location of the correct drawings.  The application also gave them added security by enforcing who can and cannot view documents. 


Wayne Bourdage is our special guest author at visualnuggets.com and is an active participant in the VISUAL community.  He has custom developed several software solutions to enhance the Visual product, allowing it to run more efficiently by simplifying and automating redundant tasks 

Connect with Wayne online at LinkedIn 

Written by Richard on August 19, 2012

Macros in VISUAL CRM? Well, not exactly...

The use of macros in VISUAL is common practice as it allows you to do many things inside and outside of VISUAL, such as, automate tasks, enforce business rules, interact with external applications, validate data, and much more.

 

Why Not
Why Not?!

But VISUAL Macros are only available from within the VISUAL Enterprise application modules - i.e. Manufacturing.  You will not find the MACRO menu in VISUAL CRM

 

But don't fret...there something else.

It's called ACTION MENUS.  While they may not be exactly macros - you can do quite a bit with a little programming know how.  Action Menus allow you to run executables from VISUAL CRM and pass parameters.  The available parameters are dependent of the area you happen to be in within CRM.

As usual, I always like to show features/functions using examples.   And this post is no different...

A while back in the VISUAL forums, someone asked whether VISUAL CRM had any macro capabilities as they were wanting to push account information from the Contact Center of CRM to the  Estimation Window of VISUAL.  Responses quickly came back stating that MACROs were not available in CRM (a true fact).

But David Sheriff, from Visual Business Solution, offered up his solution of using CRM's Action Menu - which, I'm sure, opened up a whole new world of opportunities for VISUAL users.

So, making it simple, let's say I want to create new quote using VISUAL's Estimation window from the accounts grid in CRM's Contact Center.  I also want CRM to "push" the account ID, NameContact First and Last Name into the new estimating window.

The solution involves the following elements:

  1. An executable file to "push" the CRM data
  2. An Action Menu item in CRM
  3. A VMX file to launch the VISUAL's Estimation window
  4. An OnLoad macro which will execute and read the flat file containing the "pushed" data

 
The Executable File

The executable file is written in vbscript to do the following:

  1. Query the database using the ID parameter passed by the ACTION MENU.  The query will return the information needed to be pushed - Account Name, Contact First and Last Name.
  2. Create a flat file of the data that will, in turn be read by the Estimation Window's OnLoad macro.
  3. Create and execute a VMX file to launch the Estimating Window.

Download the the zipped executable file
Be sure to modify the script to include you database credentials and file directory path


The OnLoad macro

The Onload macro file is fired automatically when the Estimating Window loads from the CRM call.  The macro reads the data from the flat file that was created from the executable file and places the values in the following fields:

  • USER DEFINED 1 --> CRM's Account ID
  • NAME --> CRM's Account Name
  • Contact Information --> CRM's Contact First and Last Name

Download the zipped Onload macro
You will need to create a quote in the Estimation window using Quote ID "CRM_QUOTE".  You only need to do this once in your setup and nothing should be in this quote.  It's simply used as a template to fire up the OnLoad macro.


Infor ERP VISUAL - CRM navigationPutting it all together

  1. Place the OnLoad macro file in the proper VISUAL directory so that the system recognizes it
  2. In the navigation area of CRM, select the "Navbar and Plug-Ins" item from the ADMIN men.
  3. In the Navigation Bar and Plug-In Customization window, click on the ACTION MENU tab to add the new MENU that will launch the executable file.
  4. Be sure to enter the following parameters.  Please note that some information will need to be changed as per your VISUAL environment.  The hit the OK button to complete.

    Menu Text: New Estimate for Account   <-- change text if you like
    Show For: Account
    Command: "C:\visual\VMX\NEW_ESTIMATE.vbs" %USER% %ID% %DB%

    *** The path to the executable file - change as necessary ***

    The %USER% %ID% %DB% are the parameters that we're passing to the executable file.  Be sure to place in exact order as shown


    Infor ERP VISUAL - CRM Navigation Bar and Plug-In Customization

 
Seeing it in action

  1. From the CONTACT CENTER, hightlight one of your prospects or accounts in ACCOUNTS window grid.
  2. Now if you go to the ACTIONS menu, you should now see the menu item you created.  -  In this case "New Estimate for Account".  Go ahead and select it.

    Infor ERP VISUAL - CRM Accounts
  3. You will then see VISUAL launch the ESTIMATING window with information pre-populated with the information "pushed" from CRM.  In this case, the name, contact and the CRM account id.

    Infor ERP VISUAL - Estimating Window

 

This was obviously a simple example (using basic fields) - but I'm sure you can see how powerful this can be.

 

Written by Richard on August 14, 2012

Accessing your EPAK materials from within VISUAL

EPAK (Enterprise Performance Accelerator Kit) is a great tool for rapidly developing your system documentation.  The application captures screenshots and keystrokes and creates your training material as you move along within the application at hand.  It really facilitates the process of developing and maintaining your company's reference material.  It's an Infor product but it's not "tied" to VISUAL - meaning you can use it on any of your company's applications

I'm assuming you already have EPAK - so you know all the great stuff it has to offer. 

I'm here to show how you can seamlessly integrate your EPAK reference material within the VISUAL interface.

There are numerous ways that you can do it - one way is to add a TOOLBAR icon that directly accesses the topic in EPAK relating to the VISUAL window the user is in.

Let's say I want quick access to the company's online visual aid of the "Sales Order Entry Process" when a user is in the CUSTOMER ORDER ENTRY window. 

Simple enough... 

Couple of things you need to do prior to setting this up:

  • First, for this example, you need to have created the Standalone Topic File of the "Sales Order Entry Process" - which is done through EPAK's publishing function.
  • Second, you need to enable the UserToolBar setting  - this can be done through the PREFERENCES MAINTENANCE window in VISUAL.

Now here are the final steps to complete the task (for this example):

  1. Select TOOLBAR MAINTENANCE from the Admin menu

    EPAK1

  2. Insert a new ToolBar item with the following entries.  These entries are particular to my example - so change values where necessary:

    Program Name: Customer Order Entry
    Toolbar ID: EPAK
    Position: 1
    Bitmap: {File location of bitmap icon to use in the toolbar}
    Tool Tip: EPAK Material
    Execute Cmd: "C:\Program Files (x86)\Infor\EPAK Developer 11Single User\StartOdtpc.exe" "C:\Infor\VISUAL Enterprise\VISUAL Manufacturing\EPAK\SalesOrderEntryProcess.odtpc"

    *** NOTE ***
    The command line needs to include both the EPAK player application and the standalone topic file.

    Infor ERP VISUAL - Toolbar Maintenance

  3. Save Changes and exit the Maintain User Toolbar window.

  4. Bring up the Customer Order Entry Window.  You should now see a NEW toolbar icon for EPAK.

    Infor ERP VISUAL - Toolbar EPAK

  5. Now the user can refer to the EPAK material relating to the Sales Order Entry Process - In this case the "Do It!" player mode.


    Infor ERP VISUAL - EPAK

Not to shabby.

 

Written by Richard on July 26, 2012

Using the Windows System Tray to notify your users of open VISUAL tasks

VISUAL Tasks are generated automatically from processes you define in ECN (Engineering Change Notice), Purchase Requisition, and Workflow modules.

To view the list of tasks assigned to you or your team, you need to go to the TASK MAINTENANCE module which you can access from the PURCHASING or ENG/MFG menus

This is a great feature of VISUAL as it allows you to keep track of things that need to get done and who should be doing them. 

But it's useless if your users forget to go into TASK MAINTENANCE to check on their open tasks and see whether they have new items that have been assigned to them. 

VisualNuggets.com
nope

So what can you do?

Besides getting your big stick, you can configure VISUAL to add a task reminder indicator to the Window Tray to let users know they have open tasks to get busy on.  The users can then click on the indicator to call up the TASK module with all their open tasks. 

BTW...The system tray is located in the Windows taskbar --> that area usually at the bottom right corner next to the clock.  It contains small icons for easy access to system functions such as antivirus, printer, sound volume, battery status, network settings, and more.

You can enable this feature in the visual.ini file and/or in Preference Maintenance

[Visual Mfg]
TaskTrayIcon=Y

Infor ERP VISUAL - Task notification
VISUAL Task reminder

Written by Richard on April 24, 2012

Infor Xtreme Support - There's an app for that.

IPhoneAppInforum 2012 is currently taking place in Denver.  And even though I'm not attending, I'm definitely interested on what's being said and presented as it relates to VISUAL.

The latest thing I've read is that Infor has recently released their mobile Infor Extreme Support application.  So, without hesitation, I quickly downloaded the app from iTunes onto my iPhone. 

The app is quite impressive and has a slick interface.  You can easily access and manage all your incidents that you have logged in with Infor.  With a swipe of the finger, you can check on the status of your incidents and receive immediate updates to your critical issues.  I especially like the "watch list" feature, that allows you to personalize the app and focus on the incidents that are most pressing to you and your business.

I like where this is going.  Download and check it out

Thanks to Jason Snoeyink, Candy Kirchner and Peter Boers for keeping us all updated on the latest news coming out of Inforum 2012 via LinkedIn and VISUAL forums

 

Written by Richard on January 17, 2012

Webcast: Demand Driven MRP - Jan 19th 11am EST

Here's your chance to find out what Demand Driven MRP (DDMRP) is all about!  

Orlicky Material Requirements PlanningDDMRP is a revolutionary concept introduced in Orlicky’s MRP, third edition published in May 2011 by McGraw Hil.  As many of you will know Orlicky’s MRP is literally the defacto standard for MRP.  Two of the major inovations are the concepts of dynamically calculated buffers to replace safety stocks, and the concept of interactive buffers which automatically recalculate both upstream and downstream buffers whenever any part of the supply chain is altered.

 See how you can incorporate the new concepts into your VISUAL environment.
 

Executive Overview of Demand Driven MRP.

Date: Thursday, January 19, 2012
Time: 11:00 AM ET

The concepts of MRP have been significantly updated in the past year with the release of the third edition of Orlicky’s MRP. Demand Driven MRP takes the best of Lean pull concepts in combination with the up and downstream netting power of MRP. There are many new concepts that have allowed early adopters to reduce inventory, reduce order cycle times while increasing service levels. 

This opportunity is best suited to those with total inventory over $2 Million.

The webinar will be approximately 20 minutes in length and there is limited seating available.

Reserve your seat now.
 

Written by Richard on October 24, 2011

Importing your BOM from Excel

The manufacturing window in VISUAL 7 has a new view that allows you to display the engineering master, quote master and work order in a grid format.  The view is appropriately called GRID DISPLAY MODE. 

Infor ERP Express Visual Enterprise - Manufacturing Window - Grid Display Mode

This view is awesome for 2 reasons.

First, it gives you a heck of a lot more information on the BOM details in a grid format that is easy to read.  It's not necessary to drill down into the BOM card for specifics.

And second, well you guessed it, you can use Excel to export and import BOMs.

Infor ERP Express Visual Enterprise - Send to Excel

And like many other windows in VISUAL you can import modifications which will update the system.

You gotta love how VISUAL has made it easy to export and import from Excel. What was once a challenge is now just a simple click of the menu.
  

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