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HAL, Inc

Logistics Experts Rely on Expert Reporting Solution from Windward

"Our previous solution was time-consuming and required us to deploy an entirereport set to correct a single report. The ability to deploy single reports withWindward is much better and a huge benefit." — Chuck Hanebuth, CEO

The Background

Large capital projects call for considerable logistics planning. Whether it’s building a hydroelectric dam, expanding an international airport or installing an offshore wind farm, hundreds of thousands of components go into the process. All this material must be in the right place at the right time. Otherwise, the project risks lengthy delays and significant cost overruns.

Reporting is a key component of this process. It brings together a myriad of details, allows insight into massive amounts of data, and is the public representation of an intricate process. That’s why the producers of the world’s largest project-focused logistics software system knew it was critical to integrate a better, more flexible reporting component into their software offerings.

The Company

HAL, Inc. is the expert in making sure large capital projects run smoothly. HAL produces the only project-focused logistics software system in the world. The de facto standard in the industry, HAL’s software makes the supply chain transparent and is used by four of the world’s six largest third party logistics companies. Hundreds of clients, including Expeditors®, CEVA Logistics®, Panalpina®, Lynden®, and AIT Worldwide Logistics™, rely on HAL’s software to ensure large capital projects meet complex requirements.

The Challenge

While HAL is busy helping organizations efficiently manage mammoth projects, it is also evaluating ways to more efficiently provide that logistical support. HAL’s main offerings, C2C® and C2C Online®, have 20 years of development behind them and are the only off-the-shelf project logistics programs on the market. Customers may purchase run-time or development licenses, which provide them with nearly a hundred pre-existing reports and the option of additional custom reports.

Recently, HAL realized the reporting piece of C2C needed reassessment. Reporting is a vital part of the software because the reporting product pulls together information and shows HAL’s customers how well C2C does its job. C2C had been incorporating Jinfonet Software’s JReport tool, but JReport had multiple drawbacks. It was:

  • Expensive for HAL: Licensing fees were on the high side compared to other reporting solutions.
  • Unwieldy: It was difficult for HAL to display data the way it needed so that the data appeared correctly laid out in an invoice, packing list or other necessary document. In addition, because HAL didn’t have ideal control over the final output, documents were heftier and larger than they might otherwise be.
  • Time-consuming: Because HAL could not lay out documents exactly the way they wanted, the company spent significant time tweaking report output.
  • Expensive for HAL’s customers: Not only were report licensing costs being passed along, but using the reports was itself expensive. Customers are charged on a per-page basis, and the cost of shipping a 100-page document versus a 50-page document quickly adds up.
  • Difficult to deploy: Jinfonet required HAL to deploy an entire report set (called a catalog) to correct a single report, causing deployments to be bulky and inconvenient.

“Reporting is a small part of what we offer as awhole, but it’s a very important part,” said ChuckHanebuth, CEO of HAL, Inc. “In order to provide the best possible product to our customers, we need to ensure that every piece of our offering is optimal.”

About HAL, Inc.

HAL, Inc. has been providing reliable, innovative, easy to-use logistics resource management solutions for tracking and control of the flow of physical goods from Conception to Consumption (C2C®) since 1992. HAL makes the supply chain transparent for some of the largest shippers and 3PL’s in the world. The install base includes four of the world’s top six largest 3PLs and includes more than 120 facilities on six continents.

The Solution

HAL began investigating other reporting solutions. The company looked at trial versions, sample reports and other evaluation tools, and they narrowed down the field to three contenders. The winner was AutoTag and the Windward Engine from Windward Studios. AutoTag enables users to design, format and edit report and document templates completely within Microsoft® Office. It works in conjunction with the Windward Engine, a set of code libraries for integrating reporting and document generation into both internal and commercial software applications.

Windward gives HAL the following advantages:

  • Affordability. Licensing costs for Windward are 40 percent less expensive than with HAL’s previous reporting solution. The license includes accessible technical support and detailed documentation, costs that some reporting companies tack on to their solutions.

In addition, Windward reduces ongoing reporting costs. One of the biggest expenses in the report creation process correlates to the design tool’s ease-of-use. Because Windward users design reports in Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint – programs most professionals already know how to use – there’s a shorter learning curve.

  • Flexible report design. Windward is a non banded solution, so report designers can easily lay out a report to look exactly the way the creator wants. Flexible report design means less time tweaking output and more time for valuable employees to devote to other tasks. It also means that HAL can include report writing in its own application without any outside branding. Windward is highly customizable, so the reporting component has the same look and feel as the rest of the software program.
  • Increased productivity for complex reports. HAL found the amount of time needed to design complex reports was significantly slashed. This is in line with what other Windward customers have noted, who on average spend about a tenth of the time they formerly spent on the reporting process.
  • More efficient single report deployment. Instead of having to compile an entire report set, as HAL did with its previous solution, Windward allows for the quick generation of a single report.

Reports run in seconds and can be generated in a wide variety of output formats, including HTML, PDF, DOCX, XML, RTF, XLSX, XLS, PPTX and direct to a printer.

  • Faster reporting engine. The reporting engine behind AutoTag, the Windward Java engine (also offered in .NET), is able to generate reports more quickly than HAL’s previous solution. The engine has a low memory footprint because duplicated objects share the same object in memory.

Reports make data queries once and cache the results, only pulling each row as needed, whereas some other systems make the same query multiple times. Plus, Windward has eliminated hotspots in the code, which also contributes to engine speed.

The Achievements

HAL experiences noticeable time and cost savings with Windward.

The company saves time and money on report design—the average Windward customer reports that report creation is at least five times faster— while still receiving timely support.

“Our previous solution was time-consuming and required us to deploy an entire report set to correct a single report,” Hanebuth said. “The ability to deploy single reports with Windward is much better and a huge benefit.”

The entire reporting process cycle also has been cut, increasing HAL’s reporting ROI. Plus, logistics customers benefit from HAL’s use of Windward in the form of reduced fees.

“Overall, we’ve been able to streamline our reporting component, and those benefits in turn are passed along to our customers,” Hanebuth added. “Windward is helping us strengthen our position as the top project logistics software developer in the world."

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