Steel is a commodity so Klein Steel knows they need to be unique to stand out in a crowded market. So they created Klein Steel Service’s Advanced Center of Excellence facility to accomplish just that.

At the facility, Klein Steel makes use of cutting-edge technology to process 12,000 tons of custom metal components. These custom components are distributed to 2,400 customers throughout the country. The company must meet strict compliance mandates set by their suppliers and customers. Due to their high demands and high-tech methods, Klein Steel, in turn, has to proactively manage all of its critical systems to get the job done right.

Yet, while it was able to maintain compliance, it still had too many trouble tickets and too much downtime that halted core operations for hours. Rob Smura, senior systems administrator of Klein Steel, knew a change was needed.

The Hazardous Steel Industry has Serious Regulatory Controls

Klein Steel is NQA1 certified, which means that is able to service oil, gas and nuclear industries. The company must strictly adhere to regulatory controls on materials, quality, handling and shipping. Maintaining this certification is vital to the entire business. Any amount of system downtime is unacceptable.

Rob is responsible for “anything that plugs into a wall and moves electrons or protons,” he said. Rob and his team have a direct impact on overall business operations, as well as ensuring that they meet NQA1 insurance audits.

When Rob stepped into his current role, he saw a great opportunity for improvement. After much research, he landed on Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold network, server, and app network performance monitoring tools.

A Unique IT Environment that Demands Constant Uptime

Klein Steel has an IT environment that transcends the usual endpoints and network management needs of many other organizations. In addition to servers and standard devices, Rob must also manage robots, lasers and high-power water jets.

CaptureThe company makes use of a Kasto inventory storage system robot picker that is integrated into an ERP system. This unique integration allows for cells and robots to accomplish multiple tasks at the same time. A systems failure in the system means that the materials being handled by the robots are completely inaccessible to the rest of the organization. Since the robots are the only way the materials can be handled, a systems failure is completely unacceptable.

Klein Steel also makes use of high-powered plasma lasers and Flowjet cutters to process custom jobs. Each of these systems can be programmed to perform the same task repeatedly. If these systems fail, the task must be handled manually and it quickly becomes labor intensive.

Additionally, system failures mean loss of important data that’s relevant to the business and maintaining compliance. Fortunately, Rob now has all of these devices monitored by WhatsUp Gold. He’s able to see the status of the Kasto robot, plasma lasers and Flowjet cutters – along with the rest of the network.

IT Challenges that Were Impacting the Entire Business

But before Rob made use of WhatsUp Gold, various IT challenges were detrimental to operations. One of the first challenges he noticed when stepping into his current role was the many trouble tickets being submitted by employees. Even if a solution just meant merging tickets, this still required an IT administrator to sort through them all.

Additionally, other challenges were causing organization-wide problems:

  • Vital systems, such as the Kasto inventory management system, were often down for upwards of 6 hours. Such extreme downtimes would result in having trucks lined up waiting for materials until the system was brought back online.
  • Errors in the Kasto system would also cause inventory to not be properly tracked. To correct these errors, employees would have to manually enter missed items – a time-intensive task.
  • Employees who operate work cells would have to call IT at all hours saying they weren’t getting new parts loaded onto the system.

Rob and his team knew that new monitoring software would reduce or entirely eliminate these challenges.

How Network Monitoring Transformed the Organization

Once Rob discovered and installed WhatsUp Gold, he started attacking all of the challenges facing the organization.

Rob used WhatsUp Gold to create a NOC VIEW that is available to every employee in the company. It showcases the complete health of the network in a web browser interface. NOC VIEW is also displayed on large screens outside of the IT area. This empowers employees to check the NOC VIEW before submitting a trouble ticket.

“My predecessor in this job had an average of 40 tickets open at any one time. That was an average ticket load in the queue,” Rob said. Now, “I’m able to be much more effective because the tickets are reduced and the tickets that we do get generated are tickets that need to have some sort of attention.”

WhatsUp Gold was also configured to monitor the Kastor robots and high-powered lasers. Alerts were created so that IT is aware of any issues before they impact business operations – and before users are even aware of them.

Long Term Successes with WhatsUp Gold

Klein Steel has enjoyed a number of long term successes since Rob installed WhatsUp Gold:

  • Systems that were once down for up to 6 hours before IT was even aware of the problem are now monitored every 2 minutes. Minor issues can be corrected before they impact the business. WhatsUp Gold is even set up to execute certain actions based on the issue, such as restarting a server or clearing the cache.
  • IT is now aware of network issues that may impact the Kastor inventory picker system, allowing employees to stop a work cell before it becomes an issue that the operator is aware of.
  • Rob and his team are able to glance at WhatsUp Gold and know that everything in the network is “green,” eliminating stress and simply making life easier.

Rob elaborates on Klein Steel’s unique needs and usage of WhatsUp Gold in his talk at Ipswitch Innovate 2015 User Summit. Watch his full presentation to discover how organizations are using WhatsUp Gold to satisfy their needs.

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