Simple file format for simple data reporting

There’s a mantra I’ve heard often here at Lesman:  If something can be automated to improve your work day, it should be. That point hit home earlier this week with one of our customers.

This particular plant reports daily water discharge to the local municipal government. The plant’s flowmeter has been installed for several years, and working fine. But on this particular day, nobody wrote down the flow total from the flowmeter, and the municipality didn’t get their report on time. And suddenly, what was a daily inconvenience has become a crisis.

So, the customer called us and bought a Honeywell paperless recorder. A driver picked up the recorder in the morning, and by afternoon, the technician had it connected to the flow meter and showing flow rate and total.

The tech called me to confirm some configuration settings, because he wanted to use the reporting option to produce the daily discharge report.

The report option generates a file that can be e-mailed as an attachment, or saved to a USB flash drive. The file is written with an .RTF extension, and the tech was concerned as to whether anyone at the plant or the municipality would be able to deal with that file type.

Good news!  RTF stands for Rich Text Formatting.

Example of RTF flow report for municipality
On the grand scale of text documents, it’s a step up from the basic TXT file, in that it allows for use of bold, italic, underlining, and some boxing, as you can see here:

The important thing is that Microsoft Word opens .rtf files without any special plug-ins or magic. (And who doesn’t have MS Word these days?)

He was relieved to hear that the people who need to see it could open and view their daily totals report. And since the recorder could be programmed to generate and send the report on a daily basis, he’d never have a reporting crisis again.

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  1. #1 by David Sampson on June 15, 2012 - 9:59 am

    Not to mention RTF files can be opened by OpenOffice which is free to download and as a bonus can “open/edit/save as” any MSOffice product. We use it in our office instead of paying $300 plus dollars for MSOffice per computer.

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