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ProGen-WebSmart-does-the-heavy-lifting-for-Airways-Freight

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					                 Business Computer Design Int’l, Inc.                     CASE STUDY

    Client: Airways Freight - Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Industry: Shipping
    Technology Applied:        ProGen WebSmart




Web Development Tool Does Heavy Lifting for
Airways Freight
Freight Forwarder Improves Customer Service and Efficiency with BCD’s
WebSmart Developed Track and Trace System


By Robert Gast


A     single call to Airways Freight or a visit to
       their website (www.airwaysfreight.com) is
all it takes to get any freight or parcel from
                                                      They have no size, weight or cargo limitations.
                                                      Once a very large electrical generator was
                                                      shipped from Michigan to a destination in
point A to point B overnight. And in that short       Sweden. Trucks, trains, giant cargo aircraft
time, if you become unraveled over the                and cranes were involved, all sourced from
prospect of--say, your trade show booth not           different companies. Wide load permits and
getting to the exhibition hall in time, with just a   importation documents had to be obtained and
call or keystroke you can instantly track the         Airways orchestrated it all so their client had
journey’s progress.                                   only one person to deal with.

Airways has experienced strong and steady                 “It took only four days from not
growth for more than twenty years.          An
important factor in their success is that they
                                                        having ever seen the software” states
understand that customers actually prefer                Gillow, “to a complete production
working with intermediaries who add value to            application that was ready to be used
whatever they are buying. They don’t own                     by agents and customers.”
trucks, aircraft or warehouses.      They do
however eliminate the frustration related to
shipping caused by the diversity in services          Embrace Technology but Don’t Pave the
offered, domestic and international rules and         Cow Path
regulations, costs, the lack continuity and
accountability. For Airways’ customers, peace         Airways has been in the airfreight business
of mind is achieved through single point              since 1980. They are now a $40 million a year
control.                                              business with 300 agent offices throughout the
                                                      world specializing in different industries’ needs,
UPS and FedEx will pick up a package and              220 cartage companies to do the lifting, and
deliver it overnight and give you a tracking          they are very clear on where they see the fit for
number so what’s the big deal? The big deal           technology in their business. With a zealous
is that Airway’s will ship anything from trade        bent for customer service, they do not, for
show booths to critical components for nuclear        example see an automated attendant as a way
power stations (even the radioactive ones.)           to get customers to the information they need


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on their shipments more quickly. If you dial     California Software’s baby.com, and found that
any phone number listed in the Airways           they were either too slow, too complicated-
telephone directory, including that of the CEO   requiring several new skills, or in their infancy.
or president, you will always get a person and   The fourth product slated for evaluation was
never a machine.                                 BCD’s ProGen WebSmart that he had
                                                 downloaded from their website along with the
From a computing perspective, all the heavy      user manual. He called for a trial code and
lifting is done on an AS/400 model 720 running   began the evaluation.
all internally developed applications. There
are seven NT servers in house that handle        BCD’s ProGen WebSmart consists of two main
specific tasks such as email, inbound email      components, the Interactive Development
virus scanning, DNS internal and primary         Environment (IDE) and the Web Application
domain controllers, a PC back up machine and     Server (WAS).        The IDE is a Windows
so on.                                           application with an iSeries/400 code generator
                                                 component. It is used to design web pages
Airway’s has seen the value of intranet and      and integrate AS/400 data elements. The IDE
extranet application extensions through their    includes wizards and templates for building off-
narrowly focused lens of customer service.       the shelf applications with little or no coding. It
With the fervent desire to deploy new            also includes a code editor that allows
technology that would improve the level of       developers to extend the logic of programs to
service offered to customers, and thus their     build applications, and an interactive HTML
value add, Airways decided to implement          editor to customize the look of the output
several web based extranet applications that     pages.
would simplify order entry, shipment tracking
and agent reconciliation functions, among        The iSeries/400 side WAS runs the generated
others. Shipment status data is accumulated      programs. The programs are generated in ILE
by operators who track shipment progress and     RPG, and take full advantage of RPG IV
update the AS/400 based Alerts application.      features, such as bound modules, service
                                                 programs and sub procedures.
Airways     Freight’s    Lee    Gillow    was
commissioned          with       development,    In the IDE, WebSmart includes a ProGen Macro
implementation and maintenance of these          Language Editor (PML). PML allows developers
applications.    Before being recruited by       to write free-hand code that controls the entire
Airways, Gillow, an electronics expert, was in   flow of the program. This gives them unlimited
charge of quality control for a US Navy          flexibility relative to the way they want the
Torpedo Depot facility. One would think Gillow   program to appear and function. PML is easy to
would have a pretty good definition of quality   use because it includes several programming
and customer service since his previous          aids such as a window list with all available
customers were Admirals and Senators.            functions, prompts for values as you type
                                                 function names, pop-up info boxes with names
Sample Application Guides the Learning           of valid objects that can be specified for various
Process                                          parameters, online help and a syntax checker
                                                 among others.
When setting out on the browser-based
application project Gillow planned his course    Gillow says he needed a primer to understand
carefully.   He needed a web application         the syntax and conventions of WebSmart’s
development tool and server environment that     PML (ProGen Macro Language) programming
would enable dynamic access to AS/400            language. “The manual has a tutorial which
production database files, would not tax the     guides you through the development of a
AS/400 and would not require a major             hypothetical bookstore application while you
investment in new skill sets. Gillow looked at   are learning PML,” states Gillow. “You can be
several mainstream AS/400 centric products:      totally unfamiliar with WebSmart but at the
IBM’s WebSphere, ASNA’s Visual RPG,              point where you’ve completed the tutorial, you
                                                 are totally conversant with the language and all

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the functional areas. You may not know every                    How Well Did WebSmart Perform?
trick and nuance but you can certainly be
productive, almost immediately.”                                “WebSmart writes RPG which is pretty
                                                                amazing” says Gillow. “ Then you use PML
Templates Helped Get Track and Trace Off                        (ProGen Macro Language) to program which
the Ground                                                      to a PC guy looks like C++.” When you have
                                                                finished developing your application, you
Gillow started working on the first and most                    compile (the program) on the AS/400 which
urgently needed freight tracking application.                   creates a CGI script that runs quickly and
He made extensive use of the program                            doesn’t load up the machine.”
templates (numbering 70+) that came with
WebSmart. These are text files that contain the                 Despite the fact that WebSmart was very
form and function for complete programs, and                    straightforward and easy to use, Gillow still hit
the wizards required to build them. Whenever                    turbulence. Initially, when the Track and Trace
you build a new program, ProGen WebSmart                        application was brought up, shipments were
prompts you to choose which template you                        presented in non-chronological order. When
would like to use as the basis for that program.                Gillow would search for the last item shipped,
These program definitions have plug-in values                   he would often get an item in the middle. If not
that determine, among other things, which                       resolved, agents and customers checking the
database files and fields are to be processed                   Shipment Details function of the application
by the program.       Templates automatically                   might mistakenly arrive at the conclusion that a
define the output of the HTML pages that are                    shipment that should have arrived at its
presented by the resulting program, and profile                 destination did not. Although this was not a
the PML logic that is used to control the                       glitch related to WebSmart, it still needed
presentation. “It took only four days from not                  resolution and WebSmart support was there to
having ever seen the software” states Gillow,                   help. Gillow notes “when I called I talked to
“to a complete production application that was                  the actual program lead developer who was
ready to be used by agents and customers.”                      very helpful. For a company with thousands of
Gillow had developed their track and trace                      customers, that’s pretty good service.” To get
application as well as other prototypes with a                  shipments in the correct oldest to newest,
trial version of WebSmart. “There is a banner                   date/time sequence, Gillow had to re- index
that appears at the top of the web page that                    the files on the AS/400. Gillow further notes
says Powered by WebSmart. When you pay                          that the development pace that they were able
the bill and enter the permanent key the                        to maintain had a great deal to do with the
banner goes away,” Gillow muses.                                quality of technical support he received.
                                                                “Without them” he says, “it would have taken
                                                                longer than it actually did.”

                                                                Ken Center, now President, beat the bushes
                                                                for business in Airways’ nascent phase. The
                                                                customers he worked with from the beginning
                                                                still see Center as their point of reference and
                                                                sometimes call him for shipment status
                                                                information. Center, having a direct line to
                                                                anyone in the company, used to pick up the
                                                                phone and speak with the person most closely
                                                                associated with that customers business. But
                                                                now he keys the airbill number into Gillow’s
                                                                Track and Trace application and retrieves the
                                                                information in seconds.           Although the
                                                                application was more designed for extranet
   Account manager follows freight every step of the way.       access by agents and customers, people
                                                                inside the company are making extensive use
                                                                of Track and Trace. Gillow explains “it could

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take up to 12 steps to get the same status             day, 365 days a year. Supporting relationships
information on a green screen.”                        with customers by applying technology in this
                                                       manner is driving further development. Beyond
The next application that Gillow is going to           their existing track/trace, blind order entry and
tackle using WebSmart is a system that will            agent reconciliation applications, Gillow plans
allow agents to enter corrections on customer          to develop a free form report generation tool
shipments. Presently, summary reports are              for agents, and an interactive order entry
being faxed to agents, corrected by hand and           application that will model shipping options for
faxed back to Airways. The corrections are             them.
then updated on the AS/400 by hand. The
costs associated with clerical time and                Airways Freight delivers the best service in the
telephone charges are now perceived as                 overnight, airfreight delivery business. Their
unnecessary in light of what Gillow can                flight plan for success is a commitment to
produce with WebSmart.                                 excellent customer service and the thoughtful
                                                       deployment of new tools and technologies like
Airways has big plans for intranet/extranet            ProGen WebSmart.
browser based applications. Gillow feels that
through the changes they’ve made thus far,
Airways’ customer service is even better. Data
accessed by customers and agents is no older
than 5 minutes and it is accessible 24 hours a




                               Business Computer Design Int'l, Inc.
                               950 N. York Rd.
                               Hinsdale, IL 60521 2950
                               Web: www.bcdsoftware.com
Winner of 17 Industry Awards   Email: sales@bcdsoftware.com
9,000+ worldwide customers
20,000+ Products installed
                               Phone: (630) 986-0800
                               Fax:   (630) 986-0926


       ProGen WebSmart was voted the Winner of the 2001 SHOWCASE Product Excellence
              Award as the best iSeries e-Business / e-Commerce Development tool.




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