Kube-Pak has been using IBM solutions for over thirty years. As business has expanded, the company has needed access to greater processing power and increased capacity.
Kube-Pak has successfully maintained its legacy applications and core processes for over thirty years, thanks to the reliability of IBM Power Systems™ and IBM i.
99.9%system uptime over thirty years ensures smooth, reliable service
Reliablesystem enables exceptionally low maintenance overhead
Seamlessupgrading allows Kube-Pak to maintain applications long-term
Business challenge story
A home-grown business
Kube-Pak is a successful wholesale greenhouse, based in Allentown, New Jersey, maintaining twenty acres (865,000 square feet) of gutter-connected double-poly greenhouses. Kube-Pak’s main product line is potted plants, and the company has been using IBM solutions to organize the sale and distribution of its plants for more than thirty years.
“Our potting process is a manufacturing procedure like any other,” says William Behr, IT Manager and Developer at Kube-Pak. “It’s not just someone filling a plant pot with dirt and planting a seed; it’s a highly-automated assembly-line process. We have a machine that mixes soil, which is then fed into a conveyor belt, which drops soil into trays, which are then leveled off.
“The trays are then automatically watered, and we have a number of different seeding machines that place seeds directly into individual trays. The trays are then labeled, and are allocated a position within our own greenhouses, so the plants reach a certain level of maturity before we ship them off to gardening stores.”
It is an intensive process, and Kube-Pak monitors every step of it using home-grown applications running on IBM i. William Behr elaborates: “Our software keeps track of who planted what, when, where, for which product line, and using what chemicals. We have five separate production lines for the initial seeding, and a further four producing finished products, which are then shipped directly to stores. All of it is managed using IBM i.”
Kube-Pak has been using IBM i on IBM Power Systems servers for nearly three decades, continually upgrading capacity and capabilities as the need arises.
Green shoots of innovation
The dependability of IBM i gives Kube-Pak the scalability it needs to expand and update its IT systems in line with business growth.
“The great benefit of running on IBM i is that the system grows seamlessly with our business,” says William Behr. “What’s more, this isn’t just about keeping our tried-and-tested core systems running – it’s also about using new technologies to accomplish new goals. For example, right now we are expanding the number of B2B transactions we make with brokers. These involve keeping track of exchange orders, inventory information and so on, which historically we’ve been doing using FTP.
“We’re now launching web services on IBM i that enable brokers to send us their online orders programmatically, rather than having to manually send each order. This is a great step forward for us in terms of modernization, and it makes life easier for our clients. Now they can simply make an order of so many hundred units a month and have us accept the order automatically. We’ve also linked the catalogue on our website to the core product data on IBM i, including photos of our products. This means that any changes or updates we make at the backend will seamlessly flow through to our clients.”
In addition to capacity, reliability and security, Kube-Pak continues to choose IBM for its extensive levels of support.
“The support we have received from IBM is great,” says William Behr. “Whenever we have a problem, they are always quick to respond. Last year, we had an electrical fault that meant part of our hardware stopped working. IBM had someone on-site the same day, who ordered in new parts overnight, and they rebuilt the system the next day. We were very impressed with that level of service and dedication.”
Putting down roots
Kube-Pak continues to expand and enhance its IBM i landscape as its business grows, enjoying near-total uptime and easy compatibility, enabling it to continue cultivating excellent client relations.
“The great thing about IBM, for us, is reliability,” says William Behr. “We have been using IBM products for thirty years now, and in all that time, we have only had one day of downtime. That’s an extraordinary level of service, and it gives us confidence that our business is built on solid foundations.”
Kube-Pak has also been impressed by the high degree of openness and integration the IBM solution offers. “Anything the other major platforms do, we can do on IBM i,” says William Behr. “We can develop in C, PHP, Java – there’s now a full range of open source software on the platform that meshes seamlessly with the core technologies that we’ve been running for decades.
“The IBM i system talks to everything else out there and offers tremendous backwards compatibility. The upgrading process is completely seamless – we’re literally running unchanged software from thirty years ago, alongside brand-new open source components on the same machine. That’s a huge benefit to us, both in terms of allowing us to maintain our legacy applications, and in ensuring compatibility with our clients’ systems. Whatever they throw at us, the IBM i can handle, and it’s one of the most easy-to-secure systems out there. We have been using AS/400-iSeries-Power-based systems since 1991, so for 26 years now, and we have yet to find a situation where IBM i doesn’t work.”
William Behr concludes: “IBM i continues to support Kube-Pak as we expand and optimize our B2B services. The benefits have been so great, we plan to move to POWER9™ later this year. We see this as another step in a long and happy relationship with IBM, and we are confident that they will continue to be a core part of our business for many years to come.”
Kube-Pak is a wholesale greenhouse, owned and operated by the Swanekamp family, located in Allentown, New Jersey. It has over 865,000 square feet (20 acres) of gutter-connected double-poly greenhouses. The company grows plugs, bedding plants, hanging baskets, and flowering potted plants.
Take the next step
To learn more about IBM i, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/it-infrastructure/power/os/ibm-i
To learn more about IBM Power Systems, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/power