Asmark Institute: Special E-Delivery

Amber Duke and Dustin Warder, Asmark Institute

One of the most common problems in today’s world is information management. Thanks to the growth of the Internet, an avalanche of data is constantly circling the globe 24/7. Still, this sheer amount of information has sometimes made it difficult to separate necessary, needed data sets from unneeded ones. Spam filters and security firewalls have further complicated the picture.

For an organization such as The Asmark Institute, Owensboro, KY, this state of the world has made for an especially challenging situation, particularly when it came to sharing information with its clients. Charged with checking and storing huge amounts of security and regulatory information, including driver qualification files, the Asmark Institute needed to get this important and timely data to its customers without having any of it “fall through the cracks” of today’s electronic security net.

“The number one request we get from clients is to provide a list of what they have to do to be in compliance with all the regulations required to do business in agriculture,” says Allen Summers, president. “Everybody wants electronic reports, but nobody wants to use standardized e-mails to make it happen. If you mail a letter using the postage service, chances are it will get to its destination 99% of the time. With e-mails, however, you get bounce backs because of security filters or have bad addresses pop up, meaning your percentage of successful deliveries is much, much lower. For our service to work efficiently and effectively, we had to find a way to increase our successful delivery rate somehow.”

An Informational History

As Summers explains, much of this provided information is critical to ag retailers doing their jobs and running their businesses. Although the Asmark Institute was formed in 2005 as a nonprofit resource center, its history stretches back to 1990. The institute acts as a national center for compliance materials and services to help retailers comply with Department of Transportation (DOT), Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and EPA requirements.

For instance, at any given time, the Asmark Institute will have 14,000 driver files in its electronic database, along with hard copies of these forms in concrete vaults and fireproof cabinets. Monthly status reports on these files — such as reminders that physicals and licenses are about to expire and need to be renewed — are sent out to participating facilities on the 15th of each month. The institute also performs annual reviews and obtains all state driving records for its files. “We even keep terminated driver records for three years, per DOT requirements and in case these individuals end up rehired as active workers in the near future,” he adds.

To solve this problem, Summers asked Asmark Institute associates Amber Duke, Dustin Warder, and Dena Rhodes to come up with a solution. “I wanted them to figure out a way our clients could access our databases as if they were in our offices themselves, which meant using the Worldwide Web and our Web site as an access platform,” he says. “To do that effectively, we needed to determine three things: what databases we had available; how these could be accessed in an all-encompassing way; and come up with a design that accomplished this.”

Duke, Warder, and Rhodes started working on this project in January 2007. By September of that year, the trio presented a working concept for an electronic dashboard called Snapshots to the Asmark Institute board and both prospective and existing clients. From this feedback, a few final refinements were made. The final version of Snapshots became available for client use in mid-2008.

In Operation

As Summers describes it, Snapshots is designed to serve as an electronic dashboard, providing users with access to real-time data in a colorful, visual, and organized fashion. Using Snapshots, clients can quickly glance at such information regarding their facilities as workplace injury summaries, which of their drivers are qualified under DOT regulations, and how long before their current, filed fire prevention plan expires, among other details. Best of all, Snapshots is available to customers continuously, regardless of day or time.

“All this information is consequently being updated as our people enter new data into our existing databases,” says Summers. “For example, if you look at the entry for training participation at 10 a.m., it might show that 12 employees at that facility had completed their training for the month. But if the manager checked back at 3 p.m. that same day, the number could be updated to show that two additional employees had completed the training program in the five hours since the first check took place.”

Since it needs to be available 24/7 to customers, the Asmark Institute has gone to great lengths to ensure Snapshots is always accessible. “Since it’s a Web site that’s being used by someone all the time, we don’t have the luxury of being down for any reason,” says Randy Lawrence, vice president.

For this reason, the Institute has a catastrophic backup building at the back of its offices located in a bunker. Every 15 minutes, the data kept in the Asmark Institute’s main databases is automatically sent to the backup server, providing an exact duplicate of all the precious information. “This way, even if our building was destroyed in a tornado or other disaster, our data would be current, up to 15 minutes before the destruction took place,” says Summers.

Besides ensuring data is safe, the Asmark Institute has also gone to great pains to protect the data kept on Snapshots from unauthorized eyes. To access their individual information, customers are provided with user names and passwords, which will only allow them to look at the data for their particular facility. “For further protection of our customer, we never post Social Security numbers on our Web site, and only print them when we are providing new hire kits to clients,” says Summers.

In the coming year, the Asmark Institute hopes to further expand the usefulness of Snapshots. According to Summers, an Environmental, Safety, Security, Health, and Insurance Index is in the works. “This would be a method of scoring each individual facility based on everything we have in our databases, looking at levels of risk associated with that outlet,” he says. “This information could then be used by insurance underwriters, showing them the track record of compliance for that facility and ultimately lowering their insurance premiums.”

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Asmark Institute: Special E-Delivery

Employees Stories

EmployeesAgriculture Jobs May Be Plentiful, But New Grads Are Scarce
November 24, 2015
Close to 60,000 jobs are set to open up in agriculture each year for the next five years, but there's not enough grads to fill them. Read More
Employee Training Employees at Silverado Ranch Supply receive monthly training that focuses on how to read labels, handle hazardous materials, document use of hazardous and other materials, and actions to take in an emergency situation. Source: Lindsay Dixon, consultant, Silverado Ranch Supply, Yerington, NV
EmployeesA New Approach To Employee Retention — Part 2
November 3, 2015
In part 1, we discussed the impact of employee turnover on an organization’s profitability, and the disconnect between employer and Read More
Prairieland FS employees
EmployeesA New Approach To Employee Retention — Part 1
October 8, 2015
Editor’s: This is part 1 of a two-part series on employee retention by Mark Waschek of Ag1Source, the largest agricultural Read More
EmployeesSyngenta First Agriculture Company To Receive Fair Labor Association Accreditation
October 8, 2015
Syngenta has announced that it has become the first agriculture company to receive accreditation from the Fair Labor Association (FLA). Read More
Top 100 Articles
Elburn Cooperative
CropLife 100Elburn Cooperative Members Vote To Join CHS
December 28, 2015
With 81% of eligible producers voting, 94% cast an affirmative ballot for Elburn Cooperative, a diversified agricultural retailer based out Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Farmers Cooperative-West Central Merger Approved
December 21, 2015
The members of Farmers Cooperative Co. (FC), Ames, IA, and West Central Cooperative, Ralston, IA, have both approved the merger Read More
Wheat Growers Innovation Center, Bath, SD
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Opens Innovation Center
December 21, 2015
Wheat Growers’ commitment in providing its farmer-owners with the latest in technological advancements now has a one-of-a-kind focal point, as Read More
CropLife 100ARA Selects The Andersons As 2015 Retailer Of The Year
December 9, 2015
The Agricultural Retailers Association today named Maumee, OH-based The Andersons as its Retailer of the Year for 2015. The award Read More
CPS Washington Court House John Deere Sprayer
CropLife 100Application Equipment Report: It Is Easy Being Green For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 5, 2015
On The Muppets television show, Kermit the Frog is famous for singing a song about the troubles he encounters in Read More
Fertilizer Bin
CropLife 100Fertilizer Sales: Another Down Year For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 4, 2015
In pure number terms, the fertilizer category still dominates all crop inputs/services among CropLife 100 ag retailers. In 2015, for Read More
Latest News
Crop Protection Products in storage
Crop InputsNewsweek: World Is ‘Awash In Glyphosate’
February 11, 2016
The world is awash in glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, produced by Monsanto. It has now become Read More
Crop InputsEPA: Let’s Talk Imidacloprid, Bees On February 18
February 11, 2016
EPA will hold an online technical briefing on its preliminary pollinator risk assessment for imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid insecticide, on Feb. Read More
ManagementThe latest on Syngenta-ChemChina Deal
February 11, 2016
Executive Editor Paul Schrimpf invites Jackie Pucci and Dave Frabotta from sister publication AgriBusiness Global to discuss the latest developments Read More
AdjuvantsUniversity of Illinois Confirms Adjuvant’s Perfor…
February 11, 2016
An independent University of Illinois study has shown that WETCIT adjuvant, now with TransPhloem technology, provides greater herbicide uptake and Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta’s Acuron Flexi Receives EPA Approval
February 11, 2016
Growers looking to control their toughest weeds with flexibility will have access to Acuron Flexi corn herbicide from Syngenta, now Read More
EquipmentAGCO Showcases White Planters 9800VE Series Planters AT…
February 11, 2016
AGCO unveiled the new White Planters 9800VE Series planter during the 2016 National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, KY. The Read More
EquipmentCase Unveils 2000 Series Early Riser Planter At NFMS
February 10, 2016
Case IH revealed the all-new 2000 Series Early Riser planter to media and attendees at the opening of the National Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsSyngenta: Keep Ag In Mind During Election Season
February 10, 2016
As presidential candidates stake out their 2016 election platforms and key priorities, growers and their business partners should seek opportunities Read More
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Submits New Bio-Fungicide For E…
February 9, 2016
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI) today announced that it has submitted a new biological fungicide (MBI-110) to EPA. The broad spectrum Read More
Crop InputsWeed Expert: Adding A Second Herbicide Not Always Easy
February 9, 2016
In my last post, I reviewed some recent research that suggests one of the best ways to delay the evolution Read More
Crop InputsGenetic Literacy Project: Farmers Need More Herbicide C…
February 9, 2016
There are two things that I think just about every weed scientist can agree on, writes Andrew Kniss for The Read More
HerbicidesWeed Expert Warns North Dakota Growers Of Coming Herbic…
February 9, 2016
Ford Baldwin painted a bleak picture of weed control at a recent workshop here exploring the future of ag production, Read More
HerbicidesWSSA Announces New, Updated Free Web Resources
February 9, 2016
Today the Weed Science Society of American (WSSA) announced that new and updated educational materials for both weed scientists and Read More
Soybean field
FungicidesFour Arysta Fungicide Formulations Given FIFRA Approval…
February 8, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the issuance of Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 2(ee) Recommendations for Read More
FungicidesAgri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus Receives EPA Registrat…
February 8, 2016
Vivid Life Sciences has announced the EPA registration of Agri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus, a highly concentrated active ingredient phosphite fungicide, Read More
Crop InputsBayer Contests EPA’s Decision On Valuable Insecticide F…
February 5, 2016
Crop Science, a division of Bayer, has announced it has refused a request by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Wins Seed Fraud Suit Against South Dakota Grow…
February 5, 2016
Syngenta has obtained a $25,000 settlement from Paul and John Mayclin, Mayclin Farms, Plankinton, SD, in response to their Plant Read More
ManagementOABA Annual Conference Wraps Up In Columbus
February 5, 2016
More than 300 Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) members and industry professionals were on hand to engage in collaborative learning and Read More