Krengel Challenges Shops to Keep UPS Shipping Apps on IBM i
July 10, 2012 Alex Woodie
Krengel Technology is currently offering 20 hours of free custom development to IBM i shops that reject the free UPS shipping program called WorldShip, and implement its IBM i-based Krengelship instead. Considering the UPS product is free, and Krengelship costs thousands of dollars, one wonders whether this offer really holds water. But as the adoption of Krengelship by logistics business Jacobson Companies shows, there are other costs to consider besides licensing.
WorldShip is UPS’ high-end shipping software for organizations with a large volume of shipments or pickups with UPS (or at least 25 per day, according to the company). The Windows-based program enables the user to print labels and other documents, capture billing information, schedule pick-ups, and track shipments (ground, air, LTL freight, and air freight) to 200 countries around the world. UPS supports various integration methods with WorldShip, which can be freely downloaded from the UPS website.
Krengelship delivers the same core shipping capabilities as WorldShip. The software, which interfaces with UPS’ shipping system via 12 APIs that UPS makes available to customers and third-party software vendors like Krengel, offers handy features like street-level address validation, time-in-transit comparisons, pricing rate requests, and real-time package tracking. Anything that can be done with WorldShip can be done with Krengelship, which was introduced two years ago, has been enhanced twice, and is now at version 2.1.
While the two products do basically the same thing, there are some important differences between them, according to Adam Taylor, the lead developer of the product at Krengel.
For starters, that Krengelship works in real-time, while WorldShip is primarily a batch-oriented product, sending transactions and requests at the end of each day, Taylor says. Krengelship (or KSHIP) enables a user to prepare a package for delivery, including printing out a UPS shipping label on a Zebra ZPL-compatible printer, in about 30 seconds, Taylor says.
There’s also the matter of where the software runs. WorldShip runs on the client Windows OS (not on Windows Server), whereas KSHIP runs on the IBM i server OS. For an organization that is already running IBM i applications, it makes good sense to run the shipping app there too, Taylor says.
“Going with KSHIP allows you to eliminate a point of failure in your shipping process,” he says via email. “And for businesses that rely on shipping who need flawless uptime, why wouldn’t you want to centralize your shipping process on the IBM i, the most reliable platform in the business?”
Integration with RPG applications is another KSHIP advantage. While a developer at an IBM i shop could hand-code the integration between WorldShip and existing RPG applications using the UPS APIs, Krengel has done much of that work already.
This was the key differentiator factoring into the 2011 decision to implement KSHIP over WorldShip at Jacobson Companies, a multi-billion dollar logistics services company with operations all over the world.
Jacobson was looking for a way to automate UPS deliveries from a custom-coded warehouse management system running on an IBM i server, according to Mike Driscoll, an application developer at Jacobson. The company was moving away from another IBM i-based shipping app that was overkill for the needs of its warehouse operation in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
“We definitely considered [WorldShip], but it came down to integration,” says Driscoll, who is based in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. “We were basically duplicating our effort. We’d go into our WMS and ship off the product, and then would have gone into WorldShip and re-entered that information. We’d be taking a step back by going to WorldShip because we had the previous integration with the other product. We were looking for that tight integration that was pretty much transparent to the user.”
Driscoll could have done the integration work himself. “It was a matter of, ‘Do it we do it ourselves and interface to the UPS WorldShip using their APIs, and go through that whole development cycle and have the approval process that KSHIP has already gone through?'” he says.
In the end, Driscoll decided it made better sense to license KSHIP, even though it was a fairly new and unproven product. “We did catch them early on in their process. So we helped them cut their teeth, and vice versa,” he says. “But it was, having said that, a fairly smooth integration, and it’s proved out useful.” Jacobson also runs WorldShip, but only as a backup to KSHIP.
Krengel is ramping up its KSHIP vs. WorldShip campaign. In late June the company announced its “30 day challenge,” in which it offers up to 20 hours of services from one of its lead IBM i developers to any IBM i shop committing to a trial of KSHIP. The deal was originally slated to end on July 19 (but Krengel might extend it if you ask real nice).
For more information on the product or the challenge, check out the company’s website at www.krengeltech.com.