Real-Time BI Takes off at Forward Air

Air forwarder uses Appfluent business intelligence infrastructure to provide timely shipment status reports

Arlington, VA — April 2, 2003 — Air freight logistics vendor Forward Air has tapped Appfluent Technology to provide infrastructure to enable real-time business intelligence (BI) corporate-wide, allowing the company to provide timely shipment status reports to its customers without having to upgrade its BI hardware and software.

Forward Air operates what it believes is the largest network of surface transportation of deferred airfreight as a cost-effective alternative to air transportation of cargo that must be delivered at a specific time but that is relatively less time-sensitive than traditional airfreight or when air transportation is not economical.

The air forwarder sought to support an Actuate Enterprise Reporting application running on an Oracle 8i production database. The company needed frequent and timely reporting on operational data from its freight tracking application for use by management and staff. In addition to the finance and management reports that are typical in most large organizations, Forward Air uses real-time data to manage key accounts and to measure the performance of its sales and operations groups.

Forward Air also provides an online service to customers. "Fast Track" and "Forward Air Premier" allow customers to follow the progress of their freight shipments up to the minute.

"Pretty much everything we do is real-time," explained Forward Air Chief Information Officer Glenn Adelaar. "Forward Air tracks shipments from the time of tender through arrival at one of our 80 freight terminals across the U.S. and Canada. Timely shipment status reporting is critical to Forward Air and our customers."

Appfluent says that its flagship product, Accelerator, has allowed Forward Air to get access to timely information for reporting purposes without hurting the performance of critical online systems. The provider describes Accelerator as an intelligent, self-managing, dedicated reporting server. Its integrated software dynamically offloads BI-application queries from production databases while optimizing overall system performance. "The Appfluent Accelerator lets us access the timely information we need without overburdening our key production systems with reporting requests," said Adelaar.

The Accelerator also enabled the company to extend the life of its business intelligence hardware and software systems and defer purchases worth approximately $250,000 in upgrade costs, according to Appfluent. Commented Adelaar, "We believe that the Appfluent Accelerator allows us to extend our current solutions rather than invest in more costly alternatives."

Appfluent says that within 10 days of deploying the Accelerator, Forward Air experienced a 300 percent improvement in response time for report generation; a 34 percent reduction in CPU utilization on its production OLTP database when reporting requests are generated; and improved performance of transaction and reporting systems.

Adelaar concluded: "We looked at many options for offloading reporting traffic from our production database systems. But for the most part, it meant spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on hardware and software — tough in these budget conscious times. The Appfluent Accelerator is a better alternative. It lets us put critical information in the hands of our managers without disrupting our operations or breaking the bank."