In 2014, everyone at Wheeler Manufacturing was working overtime to fulfill orders ahead of their busy season. Wheeler is a wholesale domestic jewelry manufacturer in South Dakota and its clients were resellers in the travel, resort, tourist, and jewelry industries. Their high seasons are May, June, July, and August and they needed to have orders turned around within three to four days.
But all production stopped when Wheeler’s hardware, a DEC AlphaServer, failed. It wasn’t the first time a drive had failed but it was the first time it had happened during business hours. Wheeler lost a day of production in addition to everything on the drive…and it took three or four days to receive necessary support.
Over the 15 years Wheeler had been using the Alpha server, it was historically a reliable system but it had started to fail and receiving a support quickly was increasingly a difficult challenge. Looking for a solution, the search eventually led Wheeler to Stromasys. We were able to sit down with Jason Rambo, Treasurer and Comptroller at Wheeler, and catch up with what happened at the time and how things have been since then.
- What systems were running on the server when it failed?
A completely customized software, called Workwise, ran off the VMS operating system which sat on the Alpha server. That Workwise software handled many aspects of the manufacturing process, including inventory control and order processing, as well as accounts payable and financial statement. It’s a critical piece in our IT structure to our business.
- Before deciding to go with Stromasys, what other ideas were you thinking about?
We knew this was an ongoing problem that needed to be fixed. It’s really expensive to completely rewrite the software and it takes a lot of time. We thought about buying another software but that would take more time to customize it and rework it to fit our needs. We needed something that would work quickly and help move us away from the Alpha server.
- What made you hesitant at first about the Stromasys solution, Charon?
We had serious reservations about just throwing money out the window and this solution sounded too good to be true. We talked to many customers about how Charon worked and decided to go with it. The Alpha server was growing problem that was becoming worse.
- Once you decided to move forward, how did the implementation go?
We arranged for a Stromasys engineer to be on-site and implementation was like a piece of cake. Obviously, we did testing but everything functioned the way it should. Once we installed Charon, it was essentially the exact same product we always used.
- How has Charon changed your IT infrastructure?
Performance is about four to five times faster than it was before. Being in IT, we also now have the piece of mind that our server is not going to go down, especially during high production times. As far as I’m concerned for anyone who wants to operate on VMS software, Stromasys is the only ticket in town.
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