Over 20 years ago, Morton Salt, North America’s leading producer and marketer of salt, successfully down-sized from an IBM® 3090 mainframe to IBM i (then called AS/400). All re-development was done with LANSA. Today, Morton Salt is building further on its LANSA investment.
“We estimate that LANSA saved us at least 50% in development and maintenance,” said Gayle MacCormick, Manager of Services and Operations at Morton Salt. “One of the reasons we achieved this productivity is because we use LANSA templates a lot. LANSA Templates make it so easy to generate programs with a consistent look and feel. We only needed to specify once how we want our screens to look and after that our standards are automatically applied.”
We estimate that LANSA saved us at least 50% in development and maintenance.
Downsizing from a mainframe
Up to 1995, Morton Salt, Corporate and Chemical were sharing an IBM® 390 mainframe computer. In 1993 Morton Salt started a ‘Cycle Time Reduction team’ to establish the most efficient downsize plan. The downsize plan was to move each of the three divisions to their own AS/400. As part of the plan, this team was to investigate how to get systems to users quicker and what tools and procedures to use for this. Gayle was heading this team.
“Several application development tools were investigated,” explains Gayle. “LANSA was selected because it offered a very complete functionality and it seemed easy to learn. We were especially attracted to LANSA’s Repository-based architecture. LANSA is not just a code generator, its Repository offers much more.”
Morton Salt’s 19 developers, all with a COBOL mainframe background, received a 10 day LANSA training course and were ready to start with the first project.
The applications developed with LANSA
Gayle continues “The first application being written with LANSA was Order Entry. This was, in fact, one of the largest applications – not quite following LANSA’s advice to start small. Order entry includes pricing, transportation and invoicing. But even though our first LANSA development project was very large, we managed quite well. The development and implementation was remarkably smooth.”
“After that several other applications were written with LANSA, including maintenance management, production scheduling, inventory management and truck loading.” explains Rick Pivek, Director of Information Services Morton Salt.
“The inventory system is real time. In the old mainframe days the inventory system was based on batch processing. The new inventory system processes transactions from the remote sites directly online. This process involves data queuing of transactions and transferring them back to the remote site.”
“The implementation of the AS/400 applications at our 33 remote sites went gradually.” continues Rick. “The sites run a mixture of RPG, Cobol and LANSA applications. Eventually we may re-develop our existing Cobol and RPG applications with LANSA.
Rick, who only recently moved from Morton Corporate to Morton Salt, recalls “At corporate we developed a fairly complex Material Safety Data Sheets application with LANSA. This involved 125 physical files and 600 programs. This was done with only two people in one year. This could not have been done without LANSA.”
Building further on the Repository
“We make extensive use of LANSA repository features,” says Rick. “We simply love LANSA’s repository approach. We have defined all our business rules and calculated fields in the repository. Our applications need to run in English and French and LANSA’s multilingual facilities handle this superbly.”
“Currently we are in the process of implementing end-user reporting with LANSA Client. Without any additional effort we can re-use the calculated fields, business rules and English and French descriptions and help text. With LANSA we can leverage our investment strategy. LANSA Client offers the best of two worlds. A strong native AS/400 query and charting facility and a bundling with Crystal Reports – one of the best reporting tools.”
We simply love LANSA’s repository approach.
Morton is currently looking at using LANSA in several new application areas including a winter salt stockpiling system which will feed real-time information on salt deliveries into a central order entry and inventory system to ensure salt gets where it’s needed when winter storms hit.