Customer Case | Koopman Logistics Group | The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium
Car dealers – especially those dealing for the world’s major car manufacturers - are among the most critical customers a logistics company can imagine. Still family-owned, it is no wonder that the Koopman Logistics Group from the Netherlands has evolved from a one-man company into a major European logistics services provider in the automotive industry, which today handles throughout Europe 700 000 cars per year for 24 car brands, as it is equally critical of itself.
(ICT & Infrastructure Manager at Koopman)
Ever since our founder Siebe Koopman started our company in the 1930’s we have pushed our very own limits in order to be of the best possible service to our customers. We expect the same from our suppliers so that we may consider them as our partners. QSL Northern Europe has proven to be such a partner in providing our IT department with its Quick-EDD/HA high-availability solution for Koopman’s logistics system.
IBM i at Koopman
Being an asset-based company, Koopman relies heavily on making the best possible use of its 500 trucks, its car terminal in Amsterdam, and its 900 employees including its drivers, while providing the best possible service to its customers.
Long gone are the days when we had just a couple of trucks and drivers, when everybody had time, and when we were able to figure out our transport schedule on a piece of paper. Today, the sheer number of customer orders that we must process makes our logistics IT system crucial to our business. We cannot miss it for even a few minutes, not only because we need it to keep track of our trucks, but also to make it possible for our transport planning department to continuously optimize the deployment of our trucks and drivers. This is an incredibly complex process, which requires our transport planning staff to make quick decisions and to respond promptly to our drivers. You can compare this with the control tower of an airport. This also requires the processing of approximately 50 000 transactions per hour on average, or even a great deal more if any issues emerge that increase complexity.
In view of this, we sometimes refer to our truck drivers as our “business cards”, and our transport planners as our “profit generators”, so it is obvious that we give them all our best possible IT support. For this, we have developed our very own Koopman logistics system – of which we are quite proud. This system deals with the specific logistics complexities of the automotive industry. In fact, Koopman was even pioneer within the automotive industry in introducing Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) in order to communicate customer orders and their status in a more efficient way. In view of the significant processing power, quick response times, and reliability that we needed to cope with all this, we have been a huge fan of IBM i and its predecessors ever since our first system implementation. Also the fact that IBM i offers backwards compatibility for our systems at each machine upgrade is a huge bonus, as this safeguards our significant IT investments. It is no coincidence that every single one of our automotive customers operates on IBM i as well! Last but not least, IBM i requires only marginal maintenance and is only sold through reliable partners like - for example - our IBM partner EXTRAVAR.
High-availability of systems at Koopman
Despite its reliability, IBM i is still a machine, and - by definition - a machine can break down. Just like the best truck. Therefore - in view of what is at stake in Koopman’s systems – the company preferred not to take any chances and looked for the best possible solution to ensure the 24/7 availability of its systems.
Only once have we ever witnessed a crash of our systems as a result of a highly unlikely coincidence of circumstances. Due to the enormous havoc that this incident created to our business, we decided to look for a solution that could best protect our IBM i system and ensure its 24/7 availability. We finally decided to implement a logical replication solution with a second system. Such a solution continuously makes a replica image of our primary system and copies it onto a second system in the background, even while all our system users are simultaneously at work. However, despite the various logical replication solutions which are on the market and which we have tried out, our transport planners continued to experience system response times with slow-scrolling screens which were simply far too slow for them to carry out their work properly.
These solutions could simply not cope with our exceptionally high transaction volumes, not only in view of system response, but also with respect to maintaining our system integrity. As this problem continued even after upgrading to our latest and even more powerful IBM i hardware, IBM offered us its proprietary hardware replication solution. Even that did not help. IBM was quite surprised by this as they became aware that they knew of just one other company with such high transaction volumes as ours! As a last resort, we turned to our IBM partner EXTRAVAR, who offered us Quick EDD/HA which – after having been utterly critically tested by us - finally proved to be the solution we needed. On a no-cure no-pay basis, Quick EDD/HA demonstrated the superb machine role-swapping capability we needed to continue our operations in the unlikely event of a crash. Not only did our system response times remain unaffected with 300 simultaneous users while processing those 50 000 transactions per hour, but also in the unlikely event of a crash our users would hardly notice that our secondary machine has instantly taken over the role of the primary machine without corrupting any files.
We thank this to Quick EDD/HA’s net-change technology. QSL Northern Europe has proven to be a great supplier for us by providing us with its Quick-EDD high-availability solution. Not only has it turned out to be the only real high-availability solution that can cope with our high transaction volumes without slowing down or corrupting our system, its supplier QSL Northern Europe has demonstrated to go that extra mile that Koopman expects from its partners.
About Koopman Logistics Group
Started in 1930 as a sole proprietorship, Koopman Logistic Group has now grown to one of the bigger logistics companies of Europe. Employing more than 900 employees and 13 offices located in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.
Read more about Koopman at their website
Hebe Bosker is the IT manager of Koopman Logistic Group and responsible for the IBM i on Power systems.