Fisher Scientific
Fisher Scientific

Fisher Scientific

Founded in 1902, Fisher ScientiFIC International Inc. is recognised as the world’s oldest and largest provider of instruments, equipment and supplies to the scientific community.

With sales of $3 billion and over 7000 employees worldwide, the company provides over 260,000 products and services in 145 countries.

Fisher Scientific UK is the UK’s leading supplier of laboratory products and the only major UK based manufacturer of inorganic chemicals, reagents and solvents. Employing almost 500 people, including a fi eld-based direct sales team of over 50 people, Fisher have been based in Loughborough for more than 50 years, and associated with UK laboratory supplies for 160 years.

They distribute premium branded and own label Fisher brand products from approximately 3000 suppliers to 40,000 end user laboratory customers in UK and overseas markets, with distributors covering African, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern countries. Griffin & George, a Fisher Scientific brand name, operates within secondary education.

System Control

The IT department at Loughborough has two IBM AS/400 machines. One is a 600 model that is used purely for software development. The other, a 720 model with 8Gb of memory and a 411Gb RAID disk, is used for production. This runs an in-house developed ERP system covering sales order entry, warehouse management, purchasing and financial information. It also runs an MRP2 system controlling chemical manufacturing. The UK is the main computing centre for Europe, providing a bureau service for operations in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The system also controls a highly successful e-commerce operation across Europe, processing 5000 orders a month on a bespoke application written in-house.

The IT department at Fisher has 11 software developers and 6 technical support staff supporting the AS/400s and 300 PCs in Loughborough and 60 located remotely. They also support TCP/IP and IPX across the LAN and a TCP/IP WAN across a Virtual Private Network.


Andrew Bennison is Technical Services Manager at Fisher, “For many years Fisher used Help/Systems’ Robot suite – a very complex back up system that we found too expensive to use on our development machine as well as the production machine. However, Maximise made us aware of their system, which gave us far more utilities, such as spool file management and disk management, for less cost. We are now in the process of removing Robot. The Maximise software was free for both our machines and the maintenance costs us half of what we were previously paying.”

“We have found Maximise simpler and more intuitive to set up and use and we are using the maxRecovery module for all back-ups. maxRecovery makes off-site remote storage of tapes very simple and automatic for us. Under Robot we had to restore data manually from tapes. Now tape usage is automatically tracked and catalogued, no program maintenance is required, the back-up jobs are submitted automatically by the built in scheduling function and major improvements in our recovery strategy are provided with very little initial setup.”

Invaluable Function

With maxRecovery, each back-up produces reports detailing the libraries that have been saved and the tape volumes used. If the object level catalogue is being used this report also identifies all the objects which have not been saved if the job fails to execute normally. This function is invaluable in calculating the exposure when a back-up fails and allow the user to decide whether he needs to correct the error immediately or if it is acceptable to continue normal working. To investigate this by other means could take a great deal more time.

If the back-ups are run and catalogued successfully then one can be reassured that the recovery process will be a very simple and easy one. Once the recovery process is started it informs the operator which volumes are required to be mounted. With several recovery scenarios fully documented after each backup you can be assured that maxRecovery will have the system up and running in no time.

Fail Safe Approach

Whether the user chooses to save everything or a restricted list of libraries, with maxRecovery the specification of requirements is very straight forward. One of the advantages of the system is that, if a restricted list of libraries is chosen, any new libraries can also be included automatically.

Obviously, if the user chooses to save everything the new libraries are automatically included. This ensures that new entries which have not yet been made strategic, are saved. The ability to take a ‘fail safe’ approach is one of the features of maxRecovery, that makes it particularly suitable for any installation.

The scheduling of back-up jobs is based on a cyclic approach which is used to determine the times and dates the back- ups should run, how many sets of tapes are required, and when the tapes are reused. These cycles are easily defi ned and adjusted. Built into the product is the ability to perform any and all restricted state tasks in an unattended mode. Previously these tasks have required either out of hour’s attendance by operators, system down time during working hours, or they have not been performed as often as should have been. maxRecovery would make it much more likely that best practice is adhered to in this regard.

Realised Benefit

  • Swap out and replaced with maxRecovery at no cost
  • Maintenance 50% less than incumbent Robot software
  • maxRecovery found to be simple and intuitive to use
  • Off-site remote storage of tapes simplifi ed with automatic catalogue and tracking
  • Major improvements in recovery strategy
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