Auto parts manufacturer Truck-Lite secures the supply chain using Paessler PRTG
Truck-Lite Europe is a global leader in the design and manufacture of vision systems for the automotive and commercial vehicles market. The business is a forerunner in the production of LED, incandescent light and mirror technology, servicing the truck, trailer, off-road and military sectors.
Network availability is vital to the company, which runs its operations on an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. The IT team had previously only engaged in basic network monitoring using Microsoft SCOM, which allowed them to keep an eye on their servers and make sure they were still operating with sufficient disk space. However, this left them with little knowledge about how the rest of their infrastructure was performing. "If some of our kit went wrong, we would have no idea and would need to rely on someone reporting and diagnosing the problem at the other end of a phone," said Mark Aylwin, IT Infrastructure Manager at Truck-Lite.
Having decided that Microsoft SCOM was too limited for their needs, Mark and the IT team explored alternative brands such as SolarWinds. However, when Mark compared competitor products to Paessler PRTG Network Monitor, he found that they didn't deliver the same level of detail and often had complex interfaces. "We had no idea just how granular PRTG was, plus the interface is very intuitive and very easy to use. It does exactly what it says on the tin," added Mark.
“We were eager to try a centralized, all-in-one IT management tool for our monitoring. After evaluating our existing slate of tools, we quickly decided to go with PRTG as our default solution.”
Michael Türtscher, Infrastructure and IT Service Owner Monitoring Manager at Truck-Lite
The smooth running of the IT system is crucial to Truck-Lite, with the majority of the business dependent on systems being operational 24/7. The cost of network failure can be huge, as Mark says, "If the IT systems are down we could disappoint customers and lose revenue".
Also, as Truck-Lite is a tier one supplier to large car manufacturers including Ford, Volvo and Daimler, it is contractually bound to strict deadlines and faces substantial fines if products are delivered late. "On-time delivery is key to maintaining a good relationship with our customers and ensuring the IT systems are 'always-on' makes this happen" said Mark.
By introducing PRTG, Mark has been able to make efficiency savings within the organisation. "Historic information is fantastic," said Mark. "If someone has an issue that they don't report immediately, we can go back five days in the history and check for signs of the error. It also helps justify investment in the IT infrastructure when you can point to a historic issue with a certain area, for example a lack of memory, and present a case for an upgrade."
At Truck-Lite, PRTG monitors the status of all switches and servers across the company's European network, including the MSExchange average delivery time sensor, free disk space multi-drive sensor, the CPU sensor and the memory load sensor. It also monitors specific ports within switches, allowing the IT team to see where traffic is across a pipe circuit.
Furthermore, since implementing PRTG, Mark and his team have discovered many more uses for it, and currently also monitor routers, firewalls, servers and applications such as Microsoft Exchange and data calls. Mark said, "We've been particularly impressed with the PRTG apps for iOS and Android. Our business is international and operational 24 hours a day, which is why it's so valuable that PRTG sends us a text if something goes wrong at 4am, allowing us to ensure the systems keep running."
The IT team were also able to use PRTG to improve the service they got from suppliers. The company's ERP system is externally hosted by a firm in Slough, and is linked to the Harlow site via a VPN tunnel going through local networks in the south east. However, when using PRTG to investigate an issue with the connection, Mark and his team found that they weren't getting what they paid for. "We were in the process of investigating the problem when we had a look at the network with the GeoMaps function. We were astonished to see that the VPN tunnel travelled the short trip round the M25 to Slough via France, obviously a very inefficient system, which we asked the supplier to correct."
More responsive IT team
"The most common problem that we encountered was with our fibre switch," explained Mark. "Our storage devices use fibre, and occasionally the switch would go down. Before, we wouldn't have discovered this until somebody tried to save a document, meaning that employee's time is being wasted. Now we can see the problem as soon as it happens and fix it before it inconveniences anyone."
This has proven useful in processing warehouse orders, a business critical activity. "Material is received with a barcode, which we scan and add the item to our inventory. We pick, pack and despatch using real time scanning and if that system goes down we are not able to supply to customer demands. Armed with PRTG we can back up and run a lot faster."
PRTG has also proved easy to use for Mark and his team at Truck-Lite, with a simple interface and expert support from Paessler staff when they encounter problems using the software. "PRTG worked for us straight out of the box - there was no need to allocate man hours to setting up or customising the software. It's also clear that the knowledge base behind the product is fantastic, for instance, we've had issues with GeoMaps in the past, and Paessler already had a solution in place when we contacted them. Likewise, when we were struggling to set up a probe on one of our servers, Paessler had already identified the bug, and all they needed was the build number to get the fix sent out and get us back up and running."
"Since we implemented PRTG, the use of the product has just grown and grown," said Mark. "We've already expanded our usage to a higher license and our IT director has seen the benefits PRTG can bring. We've noticed that many other companies we talk to now use PRTG, and we would definitely recommend the product to other companies."