“The call centre in Prescot is critical to our operation. We have contracts with our retail distributors to deal with their customer complaints, returns and warranties. Our customers, expect the call centre to be available during operational hours, and downtime would put us in breach of our SLA,’ says Jonathan Heyes, Network Manager at GDHA.
A faulty switch in 2012 caused a major outage, to the entire plant. The call centre was offline for a number of days. Production was halted resulting in stock supply delays. For GDHA the situation was critical; the switched network was too unreliable and needed to be replaced. Because of the mixed vendor environment, a simple network upgrade was not an option; GDHA needed a total network refresh and looked for a solution which would be resilient and reliable. It was important that the network was built to last; this was to be a long term investment which would support all future IT developments. GDHA chose a Cisco switched network solution designed, installed and supported by MLR Networks, a north west based Cisco Premier Partner.
“We looked at other network providers (Dell and HP), but we were hugely impressed by the Catalyst switches from Cisco. It’s a blue‐chip enterprise product for SMEs. As well as having many of the advanced features we required, they also came with a lifetime warranty as standard. The new switched network is a long term investment for GDHA, so we need to know that the hardware is built to last,‘ Jonathan Heyes, Network Manager at GDHA.
GDHA has been a customer of MLR Networks for a number of years, having worked with the structured data cabling arm of the business since 1989. They knew they could trust MLR Networks to deliver the network to suit their business. The timing of the installation was critical; the IT infrastructure going offline when the networks were switched over would disrupt the operations of both the call centre and the manufacturing facility. With this in mind, the installation was scheduled for July when production was on annual close‐down and over the weekend when the contact centre was closed.
In preparation for the new switches, MLR Networks upgraded several critical network links to fibre optic cabling to support 10 gigbit links between the switches. With the requirement for resiliency in mind, MLR Networks designed the network around a ring topology so there is no single point of failure, and installed two diverse routes for the fibre cable, connecting the main comms cabinet to the contact centre.
Once the contact centre was closed at lunchtime on Saturday, work began to install all of the hardware and get the network up and running ready for the call centre staff to begin work the following Monday. All hardware was configured off‐site at MLR Networks’ head office in Widnes, Cheshire. The onsite installation went smoothly, with the new network up and running ahead of schedule by Sunday morning.
“The installation went so well; better than I could have imagined. I would have expected some teething problems but there were none. On Monday morning, everything just worked. And it continues to work. Even if there is a fault, our network design means that staff carry on working. We can replace faulty switches or cables without staff noticing anything is wrong,” Jonathan Heyes, Network Manager at GDHA.
All existing equipment was decommissioned, removed by MLR Networks and returned to Cisco who dispose of the equipment in line with environmental legislation. Using the Cisco Buyback Programme a trade‐in discount was applied to the cost of the total solution; saving GDHA thousands.
“MLR Networks is so easy to work with. The service we get from the MLR Networks’ helpdesk is excellent. We know the engineers who come here, we know the support guys – and they know us. The support team are like an extra member of the GDHA IT department,” Jonathan Heyes, Network Manager at GDHA.
MLR Networks has also installed Foresight Remote Monitoring, an always‐ on tool which proactively monitors the Cisco network and some of the old switches which are supporting legacy applications. The Foresight Network Management Platform is a single pane of glass which delivers a range of automated alerts via email or SMS for predefined events, such as devices down and performance issues, in real time, ensuring prompt action is taken whilst maintaining outstanding levels of performance.
“The new network has exceeded our expectations in every way. The stability of the network and the support we receive from MLR Networks have been second to none. Productivity has increased in all departments and our IT team can now concentrate on major projects and not deal with network issues,” Jonathan Heyes, Network Manager at GDHA.
Glen Dimplex Home Appliances (GDHA)
GDHA is the UK’s only major kitchen appliances manufacturer in the UK, made up of brands including Stoves and Belling. From its main site in Prescot near Liverpool, GDHA turn‐ over £120m per year and employs more than 1000 people. Prescot serves as the manufacturing base in the UK as well as housing a 120‐seat call centre.
Cisco switched network from MLR Networks
Cisco Catalyst 4500 switches
Cisco ASA 5500X firewall
Foresight Network Monitoring