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Cone Drive Operations Deploys Tools to Essentially Eliminate the Need for Computer Operators


Ed Kandel, senior programmer/analyst, Cone Drive Operations - Photo by Andy Wakeman

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Customer: Cone Drive Operations
Headquarters: Traverse City, Mich.
Business: Designer and manufacturer of sophisticated gearing
Challenge: Dealing with job-interrupting operational alerts
Solution: Using several Help/Systems tools to automate many day-to-day operational tasks
Hardware: An IBM Power Systems 520 Express
Software: Help/Systems Robot/SCHEDULE, Robot/REPLAY, Robot/ALERT and Robot/CONSOLE; and Infor ERP XA

Computer operators often “carry the water” for the rest of their companies. They run reports, handle backups and schedule jobs. And sometimes they have to get up at 1 a.m. if something goes wrong.

Fortunately, tools are now available that make their tasks much easier to complete in a largely hands-off fashion. As a result, they’re moving into new roles that are often of more immediate consequence to their businesses.

Cone Drive Operations, based in Traverse City, Mich., has automated most, if not all, of its formerly manual operations by using several tools from Help/Systems. That means Cone Drive IT employees such as Ed Kandel, senior programmer/analyst, can wear many more hats then they had in the past—and get a good night’s sleep.

Higher Loads, Smaller Packages

Cone Drive specializes in gear production, but not the standard gears typically found. Rather, the gears are classified as double-enveloping technology—something, according to the company, that Leonardo Da Vinci dreamed up some 500 years ago but was only put into practical production by Cone Drive’s founder, Samuel Cone, in the 1920s.

These gears are used in industries as diverse as defense, custom machinery, mining, motion control, robotics, solar energy and entertainment. “These gears are very important in situations where you need a higher load in a smaller package with less weight, such as on an airplane or a ship,” Kandel remarks. “So we have very tight parameters, within thousandths of an inch, for customers who require high-precision gearing.”

This precision also applies in other aspects of the business, including IT. It’s currently running Infor ERP XA on an IBM Power Systems* 520 Express* (soon to be updated to a newer POWER7* model) that handles the company’s general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, customer orders, manufacturing resource planning (MRP) and product data management. The company is also considering deploying Inforce Everywhere, which combines Infor ERP data with salesforce.com’s Salesforce CRM.

Hardly finished there, Cone Drive has additionally deployed a number of tools from Help/Systems to automate many of its computing-related processes. These solutions include Robot/SCHEDULE, Robot/REPLAY, Robot/ALERT and Robot/CONSOLE, which have helped the company streamline its IT operations.

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at jjutsler@provide.net.


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