Return best possible fit, to manually entered dimensions, with the intent to minimise wastage


Refer to a simple 5 column representative inventory dataset of a Glass manufacturer:

Model Length (MM) Wide (MM) Thk (MM) CAT
HX9-G-ARD 1071 273 3.5 A
MYP-G-3RD 580 535 3.2 B
EPO-G-3RD 580 535 3.2 A
MYG-G-3R 966 350 3.2 A
MYN-G-3RD 649 530 3.2 A
GM SPIN-G-3FD 882 395 3.2 A
MY8-G-AR 880 400 3.5 B
GM2-G-AR 880 400 3.5 A

From this inventory data, one has to furnish customer orders based on specific dimensions demanded by them.  A typical Customer request would be to supply glass sheets as per the following dimensions

Length (MM) Wide (MM) Thk (MM) CAT
780 542 3.5 A

The firm may or may not have glass sheets of this specific size.  The objective is to identify glass sheets, from the inventory on hand, which match customer specifications.  If there is no exact match, then one must be able to obtain all inventory items which have the same Thk (MM) and CAT as the customer specified dimensions but the Length and thickness should be more than equal to the customer specified dimensions.  The length and width can then be trimmed to match the exact customer dimensions.  Furthermore, the result returned should:

  1. List only the Top 30 glass sheets available in inventory; and
  2. List those Top 30 glass sheets in ascending order of wastage (wastage caused when the glass sheet is trimmed to match the customer specified dimensions)

You may refer to my solution in this workbook.  I have shared two solutions - one using Excel formulas and the other using Power Query a.k.a. Get and Transform in Excel 2016.  Please read the Comments in cells F1, J9 and J16 of the "Solutions" worksheet.  The difference between the 2 solutions is:

  1. Formula driven solution - This is in range J10:AM14 of the Solutions worksheet.  This is a semi dynamic solution (as compared to the Power Query solution).  To get the models in ascending order of wastage, one will have to create an Area column in the base data and sort that column in ascending order.
  2. Power Query solution - This is in range J17:AM21 of the Solutions worksheet.  This is a dynamic solution.  Just change the customer specified dimensions in range G2:J2 of the Data and Query worksheet.  Thereafter just right click on any cell in the range below and select refresh.

Speeding up a lookup task on a large database


Performing calculations or writing formulas on large databases pose the following major problems:

1. Time taken to process is unduly long; and
2. File size increases disproportionately

A typical problem is fetching data from another worksheet or workbook via the VLOOKUP() function.  Quite often, when one confirms the VLOOKUP() formula in a single cell with the Enter key, then at the bottom right of your MS Excel screen (the task bar), a white progress bar appears which reads "Calculating (4 processors) 1%".  Once has to wait for the processing to complete before copying the formula down.  The process of copying is obviously just as time consuming and resource intensive.

In these situations, a workaround is the JOIN the tables in MS Access and then get the data back in MS Excel.  For accomplishing this, one must have at least some working knowledge of "SQL Query" writing.

If you are using the Power Query add-in for MS Excel 2010 and higher versions, then one can fetch data from another worksheet or workbook without writing a single formula.  Furthermore, there is absolutely no lag in generating the result.

You may refer to my Power Query solution in this workbook (This is a 20 MB file)

You may watch a short video of my solution here

Create a Pivot Table from multiple individual ranges without using ancillary columns


Assume that there are three separate tables showing the following information:

1. Date of visit data for visitors to a certain recreation facility.  The same visitor may visit the facility multiple times
2. Fee per visit in different cites
3. Region in which each city lies

The question is to analyse the three tables above via a Pivot Table to generate the following:

1. Region wise and visitor wise:
a.  Fee per visit
b.  Frequency of visit
c.  Revenue
2. Revenue collected by month wise and by visitor

In this workbook, I have shared two solutions:

1. PowerPivot solution - This solution answers both questions above without using any calculated/ancillary columns in the base data.  By establishing simple relationships in the PowerPivot window and by writing two calculated Field formulas, both questions above have been answered.  To use this PowerPivot solution, you need to be using the PowerPivot add-in for MS Excel.  This add-in is only available for Excel 2010 and higher versions.

2. Pivot Table solution - This solution answers both questions above by using calculated/ancillary columns in the base data.

Here's another example.  Assume a four column table showing Date of session, Client, Location and Participant Name.  Assume another four column table showing Client, Date of session, Date of invoice and Amount Billed.  The task is to determine the Amount billed per location.  You may refer to my PowerPivot and Pivot Table solution in this workbook.

Remove duplicates after satisfying additional conditions


Assume a two column database of patient ID's and service availed.  One patient may avail the same service multiple times in a year due to which that record may appear as many times as the service is availed.  For e.g., if patient A001 avails the Radiology service twice, then A001 and Radiology will appear in two rows.

Once may want to create the following two reports from this database:

1. A list containing all those records where the patient availed just one service; and
2. A list containing all those records where the patient availed more than one service

Depending upon the version of MS Excel which you are using, there could be two ways to solve this problem

Solution for MS Excel 2010 and higher versions

If you are using the PowerPivot add-in, then a calculated column formula can resolve this problem.

Solution for all versions of MS Excel

I have shared two solutions here:

1. Array formula and advanced filters; and
2. Only array formulas

For better understanding of the question and to view the final solution, please refer to this workbook.

Summarise data from multiple worksheets


Assume multiple worksheets in a workbook (all having the same structure).  In a summary sheet, one may want to tabulate data from these multiple worksheets.  Essentially, a way to link to the same specific cells in multiple worksheets to the Summary sheet.  The formula in the Summary sheet should just be copied and pasted to multiple rows to bring over data from the multiple worksheets.

You may refer to my solution in this workbook.