Founded in 1963, Cocamar Cooperativa Agroindustrial is one of Brazil’s foremost agricultural co-ops. It is based in Maringa, Paraná, and operates a network of warehouses in 30 municipal districts in the north and northwest regions of the state. Cocamar’s total billings in 2007 reached R$1.1 billion, 25 percent more than in 2006, driven by the expansion in commodities received. Soy, for example, reached the record figure of 700,000 tons. It was also a record year for soybean processing in the industrial complex: 870,000 tons. Cocamar, with its 6,700 members, 70 percent of which are small-scale growers, is present on supermarket aisles in various regions of Brazil, with soybean, corn, sunflower, and canola oils; roasted and ground coffees; gourmet coffees and cappuccinos; soy-based beverages, fruit juices and nectars; alcohol for domestic use in both liquid and gel forms; wheat flour; and crystal sugar.
As the harvests of Cocamar’s members grew, the demand for more-efficient logistics also increased proportionally. Network instability or PC malfunction resulted in non-scheduled shutdowns of supply chain management and business management applications—some Web-based and others Windows®-based, client-server software running locally. This issue increased the amount of time growers spent waiting at the warehouses, and caused trucks to line up just to unload the harvest. Unavailability of applications also led to a drop in the company’s productivity and dissatisfaction among co-op members. These elements negatively impacted the co-op’s bottom line, since members are free to sell their commodities to any company and not necessarily to Cocamar.
Additionally, operational management consumed 70 percent of the IT department’s time and resources, undermining efforts to meet business demands. “We needed an incredible effort on the part of our staff and investments to maintain the existing technological infrastructure,” highlighted Alair Zago, CIO of Cocamar. “In the case of a failure at an outlying warehouse, dispatching an IT employee took more than six hours, and even so, generated discontent because of the unavailability of the application.”
In order to make its operations more efficient and less costly, Cocamar implemented Citrix XenApp™, Platinum Edition to deliver virtualized applications, and Citrix Access Gateway™ appliances for secure, remote access. The project was planned and executed by LCS, a Platinum Citrix® Solution Advisor. Today, approximately 1,000 employees company-wide are using Web and client-server applications virtualized and delivered via XenApp, Platinum Edition. These include workers at warehouses—responsible for entering the quantity of grain supplied into the system and providing the growers with the market price of the products—as well as agronomists and administrative personnel. Among the applications available are the supply management system, Microsoft® Internet Explorer® and Microsoft® Office. The computer equipment is heterogeneous, comprised of thin clients at the warehouses and factories; PCs at some of the branch offices and workshops; notebooks for the management team; and handhelds for the agronomists who support the growers.
System crashes no longer pose a logistical bottleneck for Cocamar. “Every year, the warehouse administration managers would contact the head offices to complain about the poor quality of their experience with the applications, causing delays in the lines of trucks and lost productivity, and reducing the collection of grain,” stated Zago. “The problem of unavailable applications ended with the last harvest, in March 2008, when we completed the adoption of Citrix XenApp. No one complained, because the system didn’t crash at any time during the process.”
One of the positive business consequences is that a grower gains more time to make more trips with the same truck, raising the volume of commodities delivered. Zago emphasized that skilled labor is essential to Cocamar’s performance, as well as appropriate tools that encompass the supply chain management system—part Web and part client-server. “If the applications stop, business stops. The Citrix Application Delivery Infrastructure solution enables high application availability, which is one of the aspects that sets Cocamar apart and made the company eligible to win the 2008 Citrix Innovation Award.”
Today, Cocamar’s information technology staff devotes 70 percent of its time and budget to supporting the co-op’s business needs, and the team is more focused on improving in-house corporate solutions, such as business management software and the supply chain management solution. “With the implementation of a robust, centralized application delivery infrastructure, we were able to turn our attention toward what really matters for our IT function: to contribute to our co-op members, and to contribute to the business.”
The use of application performance monitoring from the user’s viewpoint, included in XenApp, Platinum Edition and powered by Citrix® EdgeSight®, was particularly positive for Cocamar. “We now know of any bottlenecks in the network or on the device before the employee contacts the helpdesk. The data provided by the Citrix system serves as a basis for the co-op’s technological planning, allowing us to identify the best time for technological renovation,” he concluded.
The Citrix Access Gateway SSL VPN adds an extra layer of security to the transmission of data and files over the corporate network. Executives and agronomists can safely use the applications delivered via Citrix Access Gateway wherever they are—whether at the airport, at home with a notebook or in the field via smart phone.
Cocamar can now take advantage of the many growth opportunities available in its expanded global marketplace. With strong demand from Asia and other markets for its crops and industrialized products, Cocamar is looking to international trade for its future. “Citrix solutions enabled us to reach a new level of productivity and communication, providing a foundation for our business that has made us a formidable competitor in the global agriculture landscape,” said Zago.
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