Foodstuffs gets better picture of Eftpos faults

System automates flow of faults information to service staff

Foodstuffs’ Auckland region is upgrading its BMC Performance Manager suite, which monitors the company’s Eftpos services, to further automate the sourcing of fault causes.

The system automates the flow of faults information to service staff.

Foodstuffs, which owns the Pak ‘n Save, New World and Four Square supermarket chains, has been running Performance Manager (formerly Patrol) for about a year, says Stuart Glass, a developer working on the project. He says the software can not only tell when a piece of equipment has failed but also when performance characteristics — and factors such as shortage of disk and memory space — indicate a failure may occur.

So far, the software has been supplying comparatively raw data, but Foodstuffs is now installing the Service Impact Manager part of the suite. This will allow deviations from the norm to be interpreted in parallel, which can indicate that a particular event may be the underlying cause of a fault and identify the services likely to be affected.

“Now, the data is sent to a rules engine which says ‘if this and this has happened then this is probably the cause, so you should do that,’” says Glass. The “do that” request can be automatically routed to the right Foodstuffs’ staff or to an external supplier.

Performance Manager helps prevents service failing at the point of sale, where continuity and good service are vital, says Malcolm Paul, general manager of information management solutions.

“Breakdowns can lead to delays and customer inconvenience,” he says.

The diagnostic capability also keeps IT staff busy and improves staff retention, says Paul.

“Securing good IT staff is tough in the current market, so we need to use them to the best of their ability and not have them sifting logs all day.”

Performance Manager monitors Foodstuffs’ Eftpos terminals and servers, as well as the state of its lines back to Eftpos provider ETSL. There is a main IP link and a back-up GPRS, and both are continually checked.

Foodstuffs wants to extend the system further, to monitor its uninterruptible power supplies.

So far, the software has been implemented across 21 Pak ‘n Save, 47 New World and 76 Four Square stores across the region, which stretches from Taupo northwards. The other two regions are autonomous and have not yet gone down this path, says Glass.