April 5, 2016

"Active" and aware

Managing disparate data systems and properly interfacing with customers are critical to tracking thousands of trailer assets.

By DC Velocity Staff

XTRA Lease is one of the nation's largest semi-trailer rental and leasing companies, with a fleet of over 75,000 trailers and 50 locations. Trucking companies look to lease trailers when they need additional capacity or when they want to free up capital for other business needs.

Keeping track of all of those trailers can be a daunting task. The St. Louis-based transportation company must run some 1.3 million data jobs each year to keep tabs on all of its trailers. Not long ago, XTRA Lease was running a hodge-podge collection of manually run or semi-automated systems, including trailer tracking, accounts payable, invoicing data, and asset management. None of these systems were synchronized.

"We lacked consistent monitoring, and it wasn't always easy to determine if something failed," recalls Mitch Land, chief technology officer at XTRA Lease. "In some cases, customers would know before we did that something had gone wrong. It was incredibly inefficient."

XTRA Lease realized it needed to centralize its automated systems so that it could reliably monitor activities. The company also sought a consistent automation environment that was more easily understood and supportable by all IT staff. To meet these goals, XTRA Lease implemented ActiveBatch, a workload automation solution from Advanced Systems Concepts that simplifies the creation and implementation of business and IT operational workflows for improved service.

With ActiveBatch in place, XTRA Lease now can easily see which jobs are running, on which machines, and when. "The level of automation allows us to quickly react to any issues and resolve them before they become critical," says Land. He adds that ActiveBatch has provided clarity into the company's IT operations simply by allowing it to understand how all of the various systems are interrelated.

XTRA Lease says it runs approximately 75,000 jobs a month now, with a success rate of 99.3 percent. The system also generates and delivers reports to XTRA Lease customers and allows those same customers to access aggregated data through a secure portal. Using that data, the company is assured that its thousands of semi-trailers stay on the road.

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