Pick sees new life at glass firm

Twelve years of running the proprietary Pick operating system on minicomputers is coming to an end at Auckland's Pilkington Glass.

Twelve years of running the proprietary Pick operating system on minicomputers is coming to an end at Auckland's Pilkington Glass.

But the custom-written application that's at the core of the company's business is being retained. It has been upgraded to the Pick-based D3 database and migrated to Windows NT.

The company expects the move to open up new opportunities such as linking its back-end systems to its custom-built web trading service.

The change comes as character-based Pick starts a new life after a merger with Nasdaq-listed Omnis Technology, promising further graphics-based and web software (see Pick merges with GUI and web in its sights).

Pilkington has stuck with Pick because it believes the application in which it has invested a dozen years of development is world-leading. It has on-sold the program, which handles the complex processes of glass sizing, factory instructions and ordering, to two smaller glass companies.

Financial controller Dean Abbott says the glass business is unique. “There are never any perfect squares in building,” he says; at least one corner of a glass door, for example, will invariably not match the others.

But Abbott says moving to D3, which has been implemented along with a country-wide NT network, also opens doors for Pilkington to link in its GUI-based e-commerce and EDI system Tradelink. D3 has already made it easier for text in emailed customer orders to be stripped and directly placed into the database. But Abbott says the company may also look at implementing any new GUI-based tools Pick brings out in the future to integrate Tradelink and D3.

“It opens up a lot of opportunities we didn’t have before with Pick’s proprietary system,” Abbott says.

“We’ve had Pick for a long time and with this step we didn’t have any major retraining issues. We can do lot more now, like transfer files into NT and manage files easily.”

D3 is still based on character screens but can run programs such as Windows Explorer.

The change means Pilkington has migrated from three large Sanderson-supplied minicomputers to D3 running on a compact Dell server, and is expected to create less cabling.

Pilkington is rolling out an NT wide area network with 85 users connecting Pilkington’s regional outlets, which span from Dunedin to Albany.

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