USF Holland was founded in 1929 as a regional transportation carrier. Due to several acquisitions, including one by YRC Worldwide in 2005, USF Holland has undergone explosive growth in recent years and now comprises 80 local service centers, 9,000 trailers, 5,400 tractors and 10,000 dedicated employees. USF Holland provides direct regional delivery to 22 states and two Canadian provinces. It delivered nearly 20 million shipments last year and retained its status as an industry leader for on-time delivery and exceptional service.
A need for constant connectivity
Access to key sales and freight information from all locations, day or night, is critical to the operation and success of any transportation company. USF Holland relies on a vast database of information to manage its shipments efficiently and has spent years fine-tuning a complex system to manage and facilitate its shipping processes. Rick George, assistant director of Information Technology at USF Holland, immediately recognized the benefits of HostExplorer in contributing to the efficiency of company operations. He explained: “Our freight management system stores all the order, customer service, tracking, pricing and route information; it’s at the core of our business.” Because the freight management system is installed on an AlphaServer in an OpenVMS™ environment, employees originally used video terminals to access and input data. “When we moved to Windows® machines, we knew we’d have issues with accessibility between the two systems.”
A smooth transition with HostExplorer
HostExplorer is a secure host access solution that facilitates access to business-critical information stored on legacy systems, such as mainframes and AS/400. HostExplorer offers a low-risk deployment strategy and a non-disruptive migration path for a company that is considering moving away from its current emulation solution. When it made the decision to convert to PCs in its main office in the 1990s, USF Holland’s IT department realized it required a solution to access its data on the AlphaServer from the PCs. The IT group advocated the selection and implementation of the HostExplorer solution to the organization. “Conventional terminal emulators could not provide the required customizations to meet the needs of our users,” said George. “And it was essential that we employed a solution that would not interrupt or degrade business processes during migration.”
Stable and seamless access
In the two years that followed the initial implementation of HostExplorer at the main office, the IT group rolled out Winterms to 80 of its regional offices. HostExplorer is installed on a Citrix® MetaFrame server, and users access Citrix from their PCs or Winterms. From there they can access the freight management system on the AlphaServer. George manages the team that administers HostExplorer. “Employees simply click on the freight management system icon,” explained George. “HostExplorer is so seamless the users don’t even know that it’s there, and from an administrative point of view, that’s great!”
The ability to customize HostExplorer sessions was part of the appeal of the solution. “We can do a lot of things with HostExplorer that we couldn’t do with the original video terminals,” said George.
“We can support a larger screen size, so users don’t have to page forward and backward. It makes much better use of our screen real estate, and it also helps administrators who need a larger area to work with.” He added, “We’ve customized colors for fields, which makes it faster and easier for users to find what they’re looking for. We couldn’t do that with the video terminals [before] either.”
The USF Holland IT group understood that several pieces of its current infrastructure would be changing as the emulation solution was being rolled out. The migration to HostExplorer has been smooth, with no disruptions to business operations. USF Holland’s exceptional 98 percent on-time service and 0.5 percent claims ratio standing (one of the lowest in the industry) was maintained in part due to the stability of HostExplorer. “In all the years that we’ve used HostExplorer, it has never let us down. It’s the one part of our system that I don’t have to worry about. I’ve never had to call for support,” confirmed George. HostExplorer extends the life of its legacy system and protects its investment in the freight management application by scaling limitlessly to accommodate business growth.
Protecting the investment in legacy systems for years to come
If Rick George has anything to say about it, HostExplorer will be the solution for protecting the company’s investment in the legacy freight management system for years to come. During the acquisitions, George has been an unwavering supporter of HostExplorer and has championed its use across the organization. “Our HostExplorer deployment has been very successful. I don’t want to change it—this works.” Recently, he added, “I just installed the new version of HostExplorer, and it just keeps getting better. I went in to configure my favorite screen size and colors, and it was even easier to configure than previous versions. The screen options are clean and intuitive. You don’t need a user’s manual to make it work.”
The ease of migration, proven track record, stability and scalability of HostExplorer ensures its place as the preferred host access solution of the fast-growing, regional transportation company. USF Holland has come to depend on the ease-of-use, efficiency and security of OpenText solutions, and it sees the relationship becoming even more important to its success in the future.