Providing RS Components with speedy and scalable storage for hundreds of millions of records.

Big is beautiful, but it can also be cumbersome, especially when it comes to data storage. The fact is that as your data grows, so does the need to become ever-more sophisticated in the way you manage it.

Take RS Components, for example. They supply over half a million products to a million engineers in 32 countries across the globe, shipping out a staggering 44,000 parcels every day.

When they needed to update the way they upload and maintain online technical documents covering the wide and diverse range of products and suppliers on offer, RS Components called on Box UK. With the Product Data Library (PDL) we delivered, they were able to import 20 million records from six suppliers in a matter of days.

Now that’s what we call scaling at speed.

A go-to resource

With their audience of electronics and automation engineers reliant on a hugely diverse range of technical resources including schematics, simulation models, application notes, etc. to effectively plan and source materials for upcoming projects, RS Components realised that their future success depends heavily on their ability to provide customers with an unbeatable online resource. This requires rock-solid bespoke software development – and that’s what they asked us to deliver.

The first element of the bespoke PDL tool we built was a dynamic, multi-dimensional storage solution. The cross-platform, document-oriented NoSQL database system MongoDB was chosen for this – designed with speed as a specific concern, it ensures that all information is made available exactly when and where it’s needed.

Usability inside and out

It was also important that the information being presented is current and accurate – which meant streamlining the process of creating and editing information for the RS Components team. Our User Experience (UX) and bespoke software consultants helped reduce the number of steps required to upload the resources, and functionality such as auto-tagging, renaming and indexing capabilities reduced administrative requirements still further. We also integrated the system with the supplier’s data stores – so that when new information becomes available, RS Components know about it straight away.

Of course, all this data is worthless if users can’t access it – which is where the second element of PDL comes into its own. We took a user-centred approach to create designs for a searchable, multi-lingual front-end user interface, beginning with a period of requirements gathering and continuing through multiple prototype iterations until it was just right.

Users now have a bespoke portal through which they can easily search, filter and download a range of product documentation – and with RS Components now equipped to manage constantly-changing data, they can be confident it’s always up-to-date. At the same time, RS Components can gather analytical insight into how users are interacting with the system, identifying patterns and trends in order to better serve their long-term needs as well as their immediate requests.

Scalable, speedy storage

RS Components has gained a highly-scalable storage solution without compromising on performance. The speed with which they can now import datasheets represents a massive increase in efficiency over their previous solution, and has even allowed them to expand the range of technical documentation types they can publish.

Such impressive results illustrate the potential of powerful bespoke software. It also demonstrates that if you want to transform the way you deliver online resources to your customers, you really do need to speak to us.

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