Sullair Corporation, headquartered in Michigan City, Indiana, USA, is a global leader in air compressors and related products. A division of Hamilton Sundstrand, a UTC company, Sullair uses LANSA for remote monitoring of equipment at customer sites, eCommerce extensions to BPCS, XML-based B2B transactions, dynamic generation of graphical PDF documents and a growing number of Web, Windows and reporting applications.
Russ Mason, principal systems specialist at Sullair, says, "The uniqueness of our LANSA-based eConnect solution is that you don't have to install anything. Maintenance personnel can use any computer to logon to our Web site. eConnect is a very easy way to manage and license a preventive maintenance system. We have achieved great productivity with Visual LANSA. I can deliver all our company's Windows, Web and Integration solutions with a small team who have a thorough understanding of Sullair's business."
The uniqueness of our LANSA-based eConnect solution is that you don't have to install anything. Maintenance personnel can use any computer to logon to our Web site
- The Challenge
- Self-service and M2M integration
- Remote equipment monitoring
- Company and System Information
- Technical summary of LANSA Integrator usage at Sullair
Sullair, founded in 1965, initially established itself in markets that use portable compressors, but soon expanded to include stationary screw compressors, in which it is now a world leader. Sullair also develops compressed air contaminant-removal systems, high efficiency tandem compressors, encapsulated compressors, vacuum systems, refrigerated and regenerative dryers and filters, air tools and a line of proprietary compressor fluids and related products.
Mason explains that many industries consider compressed air a utility, just like water, gas and electricity. "Our customers are mainly in two areas: industrial and construction/mining. The industrial customers typically use stationary electric motor driven rotary compressors to provide compressed air for pneumatic tools and machinery. The construction/mining industry uses mostly portable, or rather towable, compressors."
"Our distributors are our primary customers and they in turn sell to factories, construction and mining companies. Except for a few very large accounts, we do not deal with the end customers directly."
"We wanted to help our distributors with their sales, customer care and equipment maintenance services by providing efficient information systems."
"Firstly we wanted to make things easier for our distributors by offering eCommerce and online inquiry. Secondly we wanted to provide a value added service for our distributors, that would give them a competitive advantage in the area of preventive maintenance, especially with our large industrial customers."
"Since we use the BPCS ERP system and our first priority was eCommerce, we came across LANSA Commerce Edition for BPCS. We compared LANSA with other solutions and liked the fact that LANSA offered an eCommerce solution that met most of our requirements out-of-the box, as well as a range of cross platform tools for productive application development and integration."
LANSA offered an eCommerce solution that met most of our requirements out-of-the box, as well as a range of cross platform tools for productive application development and integration
Self-service and M2M integration
Sullinet, Sullair's Web interface for distributors, customers and suppliers, started with LANSA Commerce Edition for BPCS, for order entry and inquiry of spare parts. Now Sullinet also offers many other services, such as Web-based registration of products, application for warranty claims and product searches by serial number to view the maintenance and repair history of a machine.
"Sullinet puts the power in the hands of our distributors," says Mason. "They can find all the information they need, place orders and manage warranty claims without having to call our customer service center. Now we have more time to support our distributors where personal assistance is really needed."
"Suppliers logon to Sullinet to see all our open purchase orders, select one to ship against and indicate quantities for each item. We then use LANSA Integrator to dynamically generate a shipping acknowledgement PDF with a barcode that represents all the items on the packing list. The supplier prints the PDF document locally and sends it with the shipment. When the goods arrive, we simply scan the barcode and it tells us all the items that are included in the shipment."
"Our purchasing procedures bring efficiencies to both sides, our inventory is instantly updated when the shipment arrives, resulting in faster delivery to our customers. And our suppliers get paid faster too."
Not all of Sullair's electronic trading is via Sullinet. Sullair has also implemented LANSA-based XML and EDI-INT transactions to customers and suppliers. "We use LANSA Integrator for all our A2A, M2M and B2B transactions." says Mason.
Another innovative use of LANSA Integrator is to build Web pages with a dynamic tree structure for navigation and delivery of technical drawings stored as PDFs on a Novell file server. LANSA Integrator builds the document navigation tree dynamically based on a database that resides on the Windows server by creating XML transactions that LANSA for the Web displays as a tree structure. When a drawing is selected, LANSA Integrator retrieves the specific PDF document from the file server, moves it to the iSeries and opens it in on the Web site with Acrobat Reader for printing or download.
"The tree navigation is intuitive and very fast. We will make other documents, such as sales literature and product specifications, available in tree structures. Because the tree structures are generated and the documents retrieved dynamically, we don't have to worry about maintaining Web pages. As soon as our marketing and engineering departments have new literature, it is available on the Web for our distributors," says Mason.
Sullair also has a number of internal applications developed with Visual LANSA and uses LANSA Client for data analysis. This includes a browser-based Quality Assurance system. When material is received, the system automatically creates a transaction for the production system. Then an inspector will come to examine the materials and record any rejects. If there are rejects, an email is sent to the buyer, who indicates in the system whether to rework, scrap or send the material back to the supplier. If the rejected material is to be sent back to the supplier, the supplier automatically gets an email and shipping staff are notified.
"It is a highly integrated system that keeps statistics on rejects and reject reasons and gives our quality people an excellent basis to do their analysis," says Mason. "They use LANSA Client to download the information into spreadsheets or Crystal Reports for detailed analysis."
Sullinet puts the power in the hands of our distributors
Remote equipment monitoring
Sullair also uses LANSA for the Web and LANSA Integrator in its eConnect solution for remote equipment monitoring. eConnect consist of a proprietary system for equipment monitoring, combined with a LANSA-based solution for collecting equipment performance data, massaging the data into a database and presenting this data graphically in PDF reports and on the Web. LANSA is also used to manage the configuration settings of the monitoring device over the Web.
The eConnect hardware consists of a black box computer plus the relays and measuring devices that go along with it. Communication with the compressor is done via channels that poll the compressor(s) every 15 minutes. Each channel can measure data including temperature, pressure, utilization and system faults for up to sixteen Sullair compressors or other compressed air equipment and a plant may have multiple black boxes.
eConnect's primary function is to record the data that comes from the compressors in a miniature database that can hold around seven days of running data. Its second function is to connect to a network. It has an IP address and software to operate as a Web server and to send and receive email. Once a day the computer transmits its recorded data plus the serial number by email to Sullair.
All information transmitted by the devices is kept on Sullair's iSeries, including the settings of the device itself. When you change a channel setting LANSA triggers an email from the iSeries to the specific device using LANSA Integrator. LANSA Integrator also reads the email sent by the devices and parses that information into the database.
To produce the periodic and ad hoc statistical reports, a LANSA batch program collects the raw performance data from the iSeries and adds calculations regarding performance against history and Cost of Energy Consumption. Because the iSeries cannot produce the Vector graphics for the performance reports, LANSA Integrator runs on a dedicated Windows server to build graphical PDF reports using XML style sheets. The PDF reports are sent via FTP to the iSeries for Web publication or email distribution, depending on the subscription level of the distributor or customer.
"eConnect is a major part of our maintenance offering. The compressor business is very competitive in terms of pricing and maintenance agreements and with eConnect we are very well positioned. Although too soon to measure, I am sure eConnect contributes to higher sales."
"eConnect allows our distributors to build closer relationship with their customers. Proactive management and compressor performance review allow them to recommend appropriate and timely compressor upgrades. And it gives them an opportunity to sell parts, accessories and consulting services."
"eConnect provides our customers with real-time operational information and centralized management and monitoring of compressors, wherever their plants are located and whatever mixture of compressor brands they may have," says Mason.
eConnect provides our customers with real-time operational information and centralized management and monitoring of compressors, wherever their plants are located and whatever mixture of compressor brands they may have
"All the companies in our group have to switch to JD Edwards One World," says Mason. "But even though we switch to another ERP system, I think we can keep most of the LANSA programs without having to make many changes. It is only the order entry and inquiry where the integration with BPCS is directly at database level. All other modules and all LANSA Integrator functionality is more loosely coupled with our core system and can easily be bolted onto any other ERP system."
"All our development and testing is with Visual LANSA and PC-based, we don't do any development on the iSeries. That is easy in our environment where the iSeries boxes are centrally managed."
"We have achieved great productivity with Visual LANSA. I can deliver all our company's Windows, Web and Integration solutions with a small team who have a thorough understanding of Sullair's business. I don't have to recruit Java specialists, Web specialists, or Windows specialists to get the job done."
"LANSA has a tremendous product and great team. I have been in IT business for 35 years and I have never worked with a software company as good as LANSA. LANSA's product is great and its support is fantastic. So I'm really sold," concludes Mason.
I have been in IT business for 35 years and I have never worked with a software company as good as LANSA
Company and System Information
- Sullair Corporation, headquartered in Michigan City, Indiana, USA, is a global leader in industrial rotary screw air compressors, portable compressors and related products. Sullair is a division of Hamilton Sundstrand, which is a UTC company and a global manufacturer of aerospace and industrial products.
- Founded in 1965, Sullair initially established itself in markets that use portable compressors, but soon expanded to include stationary screw compressors, in which it is now a world leader. Sullair has manufacturing facilities in America, China, France, Australia and Argentina and a worldwide distribution network. For more information visit: www.sullair.com
Technical summary of LANSA Integrator usage at Sullair
- Communication with the eConnect devices is via SMTP service to send emails to device wrapped in XML format and POP3 service to read inbound emails from device and parse XML format into database.
- XML service used to parse/transform XML data passed to/from e-Connect devices to/from database.
- SVG service used for dynamic graph generation in reports.
- PDF service to dynamically generate PDF documents for complex reports
- FTP service used to deliver PDF documents for scheduled email and online reports to Web server and to email location.