As the nation’s leading distributor of natural, organic, specialty, ethnic, and gourmet food products, KeHE Distributors has helped thousands of retailers—from the smallest independent stores to the largest supermarket chains—meet the constantly growing demand for products that help people to live well.
John Kinnaird is the National Operating Center Manager responsible for supporting both hardware and software for their IBM i. John noted that there had been a great deal of change in how IT was set up and run at KeHE since he was hired. “When I started, everything was decentralized. Each of our distribution centers had its own data center that ran their own copy of the software on their own system. Shortly afterwards, we started the Regional Operating Centers project and consolidated all of the processing into two regional centers.
“Now, we have consolidated our processing onto a partitioned IBM i, where we run all the warehousing, distribution, and financial applications for 12 distribution centers. Our core system is a warehousing and distribution system called NTS, the National Tree System, which was written in-house. We have several other applications such as JD Edwards World for financials and E3 for purchasing. The system also hosts a production partition for our Canadian operations as well as a data warehouse partition and a development partition.”
Getting Started with Operations Automation
When John joined, Fortra workload automation and job scheduling products were already installed at each division location on the local system. When the divisions were decentralized, some facilities were using Fortra products and some were not. As KeHE began to consolidate processing to one centralized system, the company soon realized that Fortra could help make the company a true 24/7 operation.
John works with Operation Analyst, Jennifer Weatherly, who talked about using Fortra solutions to centralize their system jobs. “Before, if we had a job on more than one partition, we had to change the job on each partition. Now, we change the job once and send it to the node(s). Our 12 divisions all run end-of-day, end-of-week, end-of-period, and end-of-month jobs. Our summary report shows more than 8,000 jobs that we run on a daily basis.”
John added, “Fortra solutions have been a tremendous help. Originally, the end-of-day job streams were just one program call after another to a big CL program. There was no restart point and it was very inflexible. Our Fortra job scheduling software is a huge improvement over our original processes. I don’t see how we could run our current production without it.”
Before, if we had a job on more than one partition, we had to change the job on each partition. Now, we change the job once and send it to the node(s). Our 12 divisions all run end-of-day, end-of-week, end-of-period, and end-of-month jobs. Our summary report shows more than 8,000 jobs that we run on a daily basis.
Jennifer Weatherly, Operation Analyst, KeHE Distributors
The Next Step: Automating Report Management
Jennifer explained how reports worked before benefiting from reporting capabilities offered by their Fortra products. “Because of the 12 divisions, we have a lot of reports. We are trying to print fewer reports. About 80 percent of our reports are available for online viewing, and we use the software to email reports to users, customers, field sales support, and others.”
John added, “We noticed a tremendous reduction in printed reports since we started using Fortra solutions. Not only are we saving paper, but people have better access to their reports now—especially the people out in the field. We had no way of getting printed reports to a lot of our salesmen. Now they can view the reports online. That’s a big benefit for us.”
Jennifer described how the software has dramatically simplified what used to be a very time-consuming monthly reporting process. “We send monthly reports to our customers. In the past, a group of employees came in on weekends, printed cover statements, and broke down a 700-page report, by customer, for mailing. Now, we use Fortra solutions to accomplish the same task. We’re saving on printing, postage, and overtime, and our people get their weekends back.”
Learning More Through Online Training
John and Jennifer are also fans of Fortra online product training classes. According to John, “Anytime we have a new operator, we have them take an online class. It gives them a good introduction to our products. I think it’s well worth the money. The classes are convenient, too. We are a 24/7 shop with a slim crew, so it is much easier to take an online class than to send someone somewhere for training and disrupt our entire work schedule.”
Jennifer added, “I’ve taken online classes about upgrading the operating system and learning to manage partitions through the HMC (Hardware Management Console). It’s a good way to keep up on new hardware and software.”
Jennifer and John are proof that Fortra products help people live well in the data center, just as the KeHE products help people live well at home.