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MOL Transportation Solutions Rewrites its Core ERP Application to Deliver a Modern Environment for its Users

Bram Callewaert is CIO of MOL Transportation Solutions, a manufacturer of heavy-duty work vehicles and accessories in Staden, Belgium. Photo by Natalie Hill


Customer: MOL Transportation Solutions
Headquarters: Staden, Belgium
Business: Designs and manufactures various heavy-duty work vehicles
Challenge: Working with a midrange system that was 10-plus years old and an application that couldn’t support modern Web-enabled services
Solution: Purchased a new IBM Power Systems 720 and completely rewrote its key ERP application using the IBM Rational development environment
Hardware: An IBM Power Systems 720
Software: IBM Rational Business Developer, IBM Rational Team Concert

Making the decision to rewrite an application from scratch can be gut wrenching. After all, it’s likely years of initial and ongoing programming helped develop the older one. And many tools can, in some cases, effectively modernize aging applications.

However, some applications are so old, slow and kludgey that they can’t be modified to take advantage of new technology like Web-delivery environments. Additionally, the original programmers may have retired or left the company, taking all of their associated software knowledge with them.

Such was the case at MOL Transportation Solutions in Belgium. Its IBM midrange system was more than 10 years old, it was still using RPG III for programming purposes and many of the people who had worked on its applications had moved on years ago.

This left the company pondering its options when it decided it wanted to move toward an information-delivery environment with a modern UI. The computing environment it had, including hardware and software, simply wasn’t up to the task. As a result, it made a bold decision to essentially start over, purchasing a new IBM Power Systems* 720 and coding its new applications using IBM’s Enterprise Generation Language (EGL) in an IBM Rational* Business Developer environment.

Amazingly, the company is pulling it off, having now replaced around 65 percent of its 35-year-old code with a new, more robust application. As it continues tackling this endeavor, the company is well positioned to deliver a modern computing environment.

Unacceptable Response Times

Headquartered in Staden, Belgium, MOL specializes in the design and manufacturing of various heavy-duty work vehicles and accessories, including large flatbeds, garbage-collection trucks, port tractors, massive off-road trucks and trailers, and railroad vehicles. It also offers subcontracting for precision metalworking.

Some of its products, such as the port tractors and rail vehicles, are distributed worldwide, while others, like the trailers and garbage collectors, are distributed primarily to local European markets. The off-road vehicles are often specifically designed and built to customer specifications, depending on their applications.

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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