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Huffman Trucking

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Founded in 1936 with a single tractor-trailer, Huffman Trucking (Huffman), a national transportation company, is located in Cleveland OH. Today, Huffman has over 1,400 employees, 800 tractors, expected revenue to surpass $600,000,000 and is still privately held. Huffman has hubs located in Los Angeles, CA, St. Louis, MO, Bayonne, NJ with the central maintenance facility located in Cleveland OH. Their working contracts are primarily with the US Government, automotive parts industry, electronic consumer products, raw materials, and any special customer accommodations.
Huffman’s vision is to become a model company to its stockholders, employees, customers, and stakeholders, while the mission is to be a profitable, growing, adaptive company in an intensely competitive logistical services business environment.
While Huffman Trucking has stayed on the leading edge of technology in most departments, one area still lacks in automation. Huffman has continually overlooked the automation of the fleet maintenance records and put this project on the bottom of the priority list for far too long. Now that most of Huffman’s trucks are between 10 and 18 years-old, mechanical breakdowns are occurring more frequently.
Maintenance costs have soared recently and based on the lack of information available, lost paperwork and receipts, and misfiled maintenance documentation, senior management has finally made the decision to take action. “Pen and paper” record keeping is no longer making the grade here at Huffman Trucking. The maintenance facility located in Cleveland OH needs to adopt automation and the need for a Fleet Truck Maintenance Database Management System has now become “top priority.”
Our recommended solution for the manually managed maintenance issue is a relational database, specifically Microsoft Access (Access). Access will house all the maintenance data tables for Huffman’s trucks and trailers, eliminating the need for manual management. Microsoft Access has added security options, the ability to create customized forms and reports, and database redundancy. This product also allows quick and easy methods to access data via graphical user interfaces allowing users with little or no computer skills to modify, add, or browse the database management system. Another reason for selecting, Microsoft Access is the easy to use queries and reports.
The benefits received by automating the fleet maintenance records will have numerous impacts on the entire organization. Some of the most obvious benefits will be that drivers will no longer need to find paperwork to determine when routine maintenance is required, accounting can forecast costs more accurately, and management will be able to assess vehicle needs, such as estimating when new equipment is required and when a tractor or trailer needs to be retired. Uniformity is another benefit. Today each facility creates individual reports. With the installation of the database, report generation will be automatic and will contain real-time data. The most requested reports to date are DOT Inspection Reports, Lube/Service Interval Reports, Common Failure Analysis, and Operating Trend Analysis.
Cost is the final benefit. This is where the news gets even better! Microsoft Access is upgradeable and can grow with the company and capitalize on new technologies. Several other relational databases were reviewed, but the requirements and overheard were extremely high compared to Access. Microsoft Access will meet Huffman’s requirements and its cost was far less than any other competitor in the marketplace!
Access has numerous capabilities which enhance the DBMS. These capabilities come in the form of added security options, the ability to create customizable forms, reporting features, and data redundancy.
Access can use several methods to secure the DBMS. The easiest way is to use a password for opening the database. Once the password is set, a dialog box appears prompting the user to enter a password. Only those users who enter the correct password will be able to open the database. (Microsoft, 2007)
The downside to using a database password is that Access stores the password unencrypted. This may compromise the security of the database. If this is going to be an issue, user-level security may be a better option. Additionally, database replication will not work with a set password.
User-level security is the most flexible method of Access security. This flexibility allows different levels of access to the database. When using user-level security, users enter a password when they start Access. Access then reads a workgroup information file, which identifies each user and the level of access. The user receives access to only designated areas of the database.
Access provides the ability to modify and insert records into the DBMS via a graphical user interface (GUI). The developer designs this GUI, or form, after the creation of the underlying database. The form should be intuitive and allow users with minimal computer skills to navigate the DBMS with little effort.
Another important capability of Access is its robust reporting features. Reports are the results of queries against the database that are in human-readable format. Reports can be built directly from within Access or various third party tools are available to access the database and produce the reports that are required.
Lastly, database replication provides data redundancy. This replication provides a method for database designers and end-users to enter and update database records at multiple locations while the DBMS synchronizes each copy of the database. The most common types of replication are Master/Slave, Quorum, and Multimaster. Before implementation of database replication, an analysis of the cost benefits should help determine which option of database replication is the right one. (Blue Claw Database Design, 2004) The Fleet Truck Database Management System (DBMS) provides:
❖ Ease of use – This DBMS has a familiar Windows ‘look and feel.’

❖ Support – Best-selling desktop database with future support from software parent company.

❖ Multi-User – It will operate on a network to support 255 concurrent users; however, a more comfortable limit of 15 to 20 simultaneous users is recommended.

❖ Scalable – The DBMS has an upgrade path. If performance starts to suffer from an increasing number of users or records, it can be upsized to Microsoft SQL Server.

❖ Legacy Data – The DBMS can import many data formats so existing data is not lost. When properly deployed, and if electronic data is available, this feature alone can save 100s of data input hours.

❖ Web Integration – The DBMS has close web links so online data access is made easier. A shift towards e-commerce could prove very useful now.

❖ Security Protection – If the database design needs to be secured to prevent changes, the DBMS can be locked/protected (and the source code compiled) by converting it to a protected database.

❖ Migration – The DBMS can be used as a front end, that is, as an interface to information that is located elsewhere and handled by another storage management system (e.g. MySQL server).

❖ Costs – It will vary based on the selective packages available that interest Huffman Trucking needs.

By approving this DBMS proposal, Huffman Trucking will have a preventive maintenance system that will expose the older trucks that are costing more money in maintenance and upkeep than they are worth. Replacing the older trucks with new ones will be an asset that will improve shipping performance due to faster, on time deliveries, with zero shipping damages. This proposal, if accepted, will provide overall quality improvement to the entire Huffman Truck Fleet maintenance processes. Huffman Trucking is continuously growing and the Microsoft Access database in the future can be imported into a more robust SQL database if necessary.
In order to maintain a profit margin, cost is a major factor to consider when implementing a new system. The cost to maintain an old antiquated database, for example, dramatically increases as technology advances and the database administrators find new positions elsewhere. On the other hand, if by implementing a database that is upgradeable, it can grow with the company and allow them to capitalize on new technologies. If this occurs, the company has invested wisely and they should see a return on their investment. Huffman understands this concept and perceives the many benefits that a well-built database will provide.
The proposed database is a quality product based on the premise that Huffman is not a stagnant company and it will continue to grow. Therefore, choosing a platform to meet Huffman’s demands was critical. Research allowed us to find the ideal platform for this database. While Oracle and Microsoft SQL were strong candidates, their server requirements disqualified them. Access offers everything that Huffman needs in a database with one major benefit - low overhead. By outsourcing and investing a fraction of the cost to maintain on-staff programmers, Huffman will definitely enjoy the rewards of a robust and scalable database.
The estimated cost for the DBMS proposal is $5,904.95. To date, this cost still requires approval from the Huffman Trucking management team. This estimate includes work hours and materials needed to complete the proposed database (Table 1).
Table 1

|Materials |Details |Est Hours |Hour Rate |Price |
|MS Access 2007 | | | |$499.95 |
|Analyst | | | | |
| |Research |20hrs |25 |$500 |
| |Design |20hrs |25 |$500 |
| |Implementation |16hrs |25 |$400 |
| |Maintenance | | | |
|Support | | | | |
| |Contract |9 months |445/month |$4,005 |
| | | | | |
| | |Total | |$5,904.95 |

Huffman can ill afford to handle its vehicle maintenance with mere pen and paper. The sheer volume of lost and misfiled service documents and the lack of available information by those that need it most demands immediate action. Tractor-trailers are the life-blood of the company.
By implementing the proposed Vehicle Maintenance DBMS, Huffman will reduce the manual burden encountered daily by maintenance personnel and management. Maintenance workers will have immediate access to vehicle maintenance histories without having to refer to hard copy documentation. Managers will have at their finger tips the information necessary to make timely decisions regarding vehicle and trailer replacements. Drivers will no longer wonder what services are due for their vehicles as the database can automatically send out service reminders via email.
The previously outlined benefits and capabilities made possible by the implementation of this DBMS should allow management to see an immediate Return On Investment (ROI) in the form of faster maintenance turn-around times, greater information integrity, timely access to information, and less vehicle down time which ultimately means greater profit potential for Huffman. Lastly, because development of the DBMS was internal, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) (2005) from development through implementation to daily use will be dramatically less than continuing to do business as usual or looking for a customized solution from third party vendors.
References

Microsoft Overview of MS Access security (MDB). Retrieved December 1, 2007, from Overview of MS Access Security (MDB) Web site: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/access/HP051882261033.aspx

Blue Claw Database Design (2004). Database replication in MS Access. Retrieved December 1, 2007, from Database Replication Web site: http://www.blueclaw-db.com/broad_interest/database-replication.htm

SQL Server 2000 vs Oracle 9i. Retrieved December 1, 2007, from MSSQLCity.Com Web site: http://www.mssqlcity.com/Articles/Compare/sql_server_vs_oracle.htm

What's new in sql server 2005. Retrieved December 1, 2007, from Microsoft Web site: http://www.microsoft.com/sql/prodinfo/overview/whats-new-in-sqlserver2005.mspx

Microsoft sql server enterprise 32-bit-license and software assurance. Retrieved December 1, 2007, from CDW-G Web site: http://www.cdw.com/shop/products/default.aspx?EDC=878599&cm_sp=Product-_-Overview-_-Main+Tab

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). (2005, January 31). Retrieved November 30, 2007, from the searchdatacenter.com website: http://searchdatacenter.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid80_gci342316,00.html

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