Customer Story

Hospitality Meets Automation

Robot Products Help American Hotel Register Company Supply The World

With its roots dating back to the Civil War, American Hotel Register Company has long been a participant in the evolution of the hospitality industry. For more than 140 years, they have adapted to changing times to offer their customers the products and services they needed. Founded in 1865 as a publisher of hotel travel directories and railroad maps, they incorporated in 1896 as a manufacturer of patented hotel registers. During the decades that followed, the company grew as they delivered the products that the times demanded. Today, they boast a fleet of delivery trucks, an outside sales force, an import department, a department specializing in locating hard-to-find products, as well as government, health care, and international divisions. American Hotel Register Company now offers the world’s largest selection of hospitality products and services—more than 50,000 products—to supply hotels, healthcare facilities, and other businesses around the world.

Headquartered in Vernon Hills, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, the company uses a partitioned IBM Power Systems 550 (System i) and an AS/400 model 270 for computing horsepower. For their system management software, they rely on the Robot products from HelpSystems: Robot SCHEDULE, Robot CONSOLE, Robot NETWORK, and Robot ALERT. They use Robot CONSOLE with Robot NETWORK to monitor resources, job queues, user profiles, and the QSYSOPR message queue. Sherry Morris, senior computer operator, explains, “It’s a great monitoring system with easy setup. Setting up stuff with a Robot product is like filling out a 1040EZ tax return—it’s easy! You specify how you want it to look and it sends the messages right to your display. We work with Robot CONSOLE and see all of the messages from one monitor. And, Robot NETWORK even talks to you with audible alerts when new events arrive.”

With the Robot products, the company has automated and centralized their extensive system-monitoring process. “We monitor jobs, job queues, printers, CPU usage, tape drives—everything. With Robot NETWORK, we do cross-partition management. We consolidate messages using Robot CONSOLE message sets and Robot NETWORK to a single workstation. Robot NETWORK gets the messages from Robot CONSOLE and displays them in pop-ups that talk to you. My co-worker says it’s really cool because Robot NETWORK can be in the background while you just click on the pop-up to display the Status Center and respond to the message.”

Sherry admits that message traffic used to be heavy. “Now, with Robot CONSOLE working, on an average day we see only about 100 events from our different partitions. We used to have three shifts, but now we’re down to two. One thing that’s great about the HelpSystems products is that they all work together. I can leave earlier at night because Robot NETWORK and Robot CONSOLE make it lights out. After 9:00 p.m., they send critical messages to a distribution list of people who are on-call after hours.”

"It’s a great monitoring system with easy setup...You specify how you want it to look and it sends the messages right to your display."

The benefit for Sherry is that, “You don’t have to sit in front of a PC or in a computer room and monitor. You can do other things. For instance, if I want to leave the office, I just notify Robot ALERT and critical messages go right to my Blackberry. My co-worker in the computer room uses Robot NETWORK to monitor and respond to everything. It’s very flexible—you can be in the office and use the Robot NETWORK Explorer (graphical interface), or be away from the office and respond using paging or e-mail.” As Sherry explains, “In the old days, if you walked away from the monitor for a few minutes, you wouldn’t know whether a job terminated. But, Robot NETWORK waits until you respond. You have to be aware—nothing gets missed. And, the Robot NETWORK Good Morning Report is great because it summarizes information across all the partitions.

“Another benefit is that we know who’s responding to a message. When my boss asks, ‘Can you show me who answered this message and how long it took?’, I just look in Robot CONSOLE. He really likes that.” Sherry also likes Robot CONSOLE message sets and OPerator Assistance Language (OPAL). For example, when a profile is disabled, they use a message set to query the person monitoring the systems with a pop-up message for a response. “I have message sets for job queues, resources, and to monitor CPU usage. I use OPAL to automatically send responses and e-mails to the Help Desk from 9 to 5 for disabled profiles. I use a lot of OPAL and I’m getting good at it, too. OPAL and message sets really help you automate more processes and respond to more events.”

Sherry feels that the final benefit of the Robot products is the HelpSystems support staff. “They are so awesome—some deserve bronze stars. You can’t say anything bad about them. They are really willing to take their time and help you set up what you need.”

"I can’t brag enough about the Robot products—I love them all!"

So, when you put together all of the benefits from blending the technology of the Robot products with the hospitality products of American Hotel Register Company for lights-out automation, the list is quite impressive: reduced costs, increased productivity, fewer errors and problems, better information tracking, faster response times, less manual effort, and more time for other tasks. Sherry sums it up nicely. “The Robot products have allowed me to get away from the day-to-day drudgery of managing the systems and running jobs manually. Now, when my boss comes in and tells me he has a project for me, I have time. I don’t have to look at the system and I don’t have to monitor jobs. The Robot products gave me that. I can’t brag enough about the Robot products—I love them all!”

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