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Case Study: Help/Systems' Robot Solutions

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Campbell Hausfeld started out making horse-drawn wagons and agricultural equipment in 1836. Now, 170 years later, they're still here—a recognized leader in the home improvement and automotive industry. Today, they offer a complete line of air compressors, air tools and accessories, inflators, nailers and staplers, paint sprayers, pressure washers, tire safety products, welders, and, since 2005, power tools with a new line of cordless drills and accessories.

This privately held company of 400 employees has facilities in Harrison, Ohio; Leitchfield, Kentucky; and Mount Juliet, Tennessee. It also has offices in Taipei, Taiwan, and Shanghai, China. The company currently has three IBM iSeries systems. Doreen Boyle, iSeries Systems Administrator, elaborates, "We are running JD Edwards World software for all of our sales, accounting, and manufacturing. Recently, we also took our Web server live using WebSphere. People can now go to our Web site and order our products online."

A company doesn't remain successful for 170 years without being willing to explore new opportunities, and that's exactly what Campbell Hausfeld did three years ago when it began running "lights out," automating the operation of their iSeries systems. According to Doreen, "It wouldn't have been possible without Help/Systems."

Doreen has been with Campbell Hausfeld for eight years, starting out as a systems operator and working her way up to systems administrator. When asked about her operations department, Doreen says the company has 350 users but only one operator—the Robot products.

As Doreen explains, "When I first came to Campbell [Hausfeld], we had a second shift operator, and I was the day operator. When he would go on vacation or was sick, I would have to cover for him. There were multiple issues at the time, and I thought there had to be a better way to do this. So I did some research on the Internet, read some magazines, and read about this company called Help/Systems. Reading about their products got me interested."

The path to lights out began with Robot/SCHEDULE, the first product the company installed. It includes an automatic computer operator, a job scheduler, and a batch management system. "We put all of our nightly processing jobs into Robot/ SCHEDULE," Doreen said. "This seemed to be working out pretty well, but we still needed an operator because there were messages that needed to be answered, and if something did go wrong, we had no way of knowing."

These problems were resolved when Campbell Hausfeld added Robot/CONSOLE to provide message management and Robot/ALERT for event notification. The second shift operator was eliminated and, as Doreen points out, "Now our operation is totally lights out, hands off—unless there is a problem. Then, I am alerted and I can take care of it right away."

With the addition of Robot/REPLAY, the Robot/SCHEDULE plug-in that automates interactive jobs, and Robot/SAVE for backup, recovery, and tape management, Campbell Hausfeld is now running five Help/Systems products. In fact, according to Doreen, the company has integrated Robot/CONSOLE, Robot/ALERT, Robot/SCHEDULE, and Robot/SAVE primarily around their backups.

Automated Operations Provide a Good Return on Investment

Larry Rude, Campbell Hausfeld's IT director, has been with Campbell Hausfeld for 11 years. He describes his job as "making sure we can meet all user needs, currently and in the future, at the best price possible." Larry says the management outside of IT is happy with the direction they have gone. "I report to the CFO, vice president of finance, [and] he gave us a challenge to reduce cost. We did that by eliminating that night shift position, and our jobs actually run smoother now. We check throughout the day and get the call out a lot faster to get things fixed." From a management viewpoint, Larry confirms Campbell Hausfeld has had a good return on its investment.

Nevertheless, Doreen admits that management was somewhat skeptical of going "lights out" at first. "We had to do a lot of cost studies to justify if it was going to pay for itself or not. It turns out that it has more than paid for itself over the years. It has been a major cost-saver." Not only did it save the cost of salary and benefits for a second operator, but according to Doreen, "The Robot products saved me a lot of time and overtime. No more having to work on weekends." And it has improved her quality of life. "Oh, it's much nicer. I don't have to come in anymore if we have problems with the system. I can dial in from home." Adds Larry, "Doreen is now free to do other functions; she is able to help us in other support areas. She's free to do more critical things than babysitting the operating systems."

Successful Implementation Doesn't Take a Lot of People

So was it difficult for Campbell Hausfeld to implement Help/Systems' automated operations software—integrating Robot/SCHEDULE, Robot/CONSOLE, Robot/ALERT, Robot/REPLAY, and Robot/SAVE—to achieve "lights out" operations? According to Doreen, she was able to accomplish it with the help of just one programmer. "The products were new, and I wasn't really comfortable with them, but setting them up wasn't difficult. Once we set up our Robot products correctly, we just kind of forget about them because they do run smoothly. They are quality products."

As far as training on the new software, Doreen notes that Help/Systems sent an instructor to familiarize them with Robot/SCHEDULE and Robot/SAVE. "The rest of the products, like Robot/CONSOLE and Robot/ALERT, we just read the manuals and picked it up on our own. If we had any questions or ran into problems, the technical support was excellent, so there is no problem there." Larry agrees, "We do like Help/Systems products, and we feel that Help/Systems has a good technical staff and support when we need it. They answer all of our questions."

Going "lights out" has saved Campbell Hausfeld both time and money, proving again why they have been successful for 170 years. Open to new technology, the company did its homework and chose what it considered the best, Help/Systems' Robot Automated Operations Solution software. According to Larry, "It works, it's steady, and if there's any problem, you have excellent support for it. When we originally began investigating automated scheduling packages, we investigated multiple products. Help/Systems was the best. We talked to other users and got the same feeling from them. That's why we bought Help/Systems. It cost a little bit more money, but we felt the investment was worth it, and it has been well worth it." That's high praise from a company that's been around so long.



Help/Systems, Inc.
6533 Flying Cloud Drive, Suite 200
Eden Prairie, MN 55344
Tel: 952.933.0609
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Web: www.helpystems.com


Tom Huntington is Executive Vice President of Technical Solutions at HelpSystems, and has been with the company for nearly 30 years. He works with business alliances, acquisitions and large customer relationships and ensures that the HelpSystems software works with other major software and hardware vendors worldwide.

Tom often speaks on enterprise scheduling, security, automation topics, IBM i technology, and the HelpSystems products, and hosts technical presentations on a variety of automation topics. He is the author of the HelpSystems IBM i Marketplace Survey and has written articles on automated operations, security, cloud computing, and business intelligence for leading trade journals and newsletters. He was named an IBM Champion in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 for over three decades of advocation and thought leadership on the IBM i platform.

Contact Tom at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




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