Duo UK have successfully created an engaged team and everyone, from the shop floor to the top management, wants to understand what’s going on in the business. But there were limits to what the existing IT infrastructure could do, which resulted in some processes such as auditing and scheduling still being manual and paper-based.
While Duo had quite rightly invested some £1.1 million in a new plant to cope with the increase in extrusion and printing, the company was now being held back by 20th Century-style IT, and this meant they weren’t maximising the ROI on the new plant.
Duo has manufacturing sites in Manchester and Derby, the IT wasn’t best coordinated across the two sites which led to poor communication and inefficiencies.
As in many SMEs, IT isn't a core service or business skill, especially so with a manufacturing company where the important knowledge is in the manufacturing techniques needed to create and sustain competitive advantage.
Silverbug’s CEBA-certified Professional Services team took on the role of being Duo’s IT team. The first thing we did was to analyse Duo’s IT infrastructure and compared its capabilities with those needed to support Duo’s business strategy and from there, we created a phased or staged approach for a complete IT refresh.
The new infrastructure included remote access to internal systems via a VPN, as well as networked CCTV cameras for additional site security. A major component of the project was the integration of a bespoke Manufacturing Production Scheduling (MRP) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to better integrate transactions across both sites and improve communication between office-based functions and the plant.
New structured Cat-5e cabling was installed throughout the office environment, which formed the bedrock of a new LAN which was designed with continued growth in mind.
Office365 was deployed which included enterprise social application Yammer, which the management team are keen to exploit. Yammer is seen as a great way to include every member of the Duo team in not just company news, but decision making also. In addition, the speed of internal team communication has increased. Often, company-wide announcements would be printed and included in wage packets; however, now these announcements can be published anytime and accessed from anywhere.
Office365 obviated the need to spend time tracking, managing and renewing software licences and makes it much easier to add new team members. It’s also a much more flexible solution that copes with the variable demand that Duo’s business has. The collaboration features of Office365 means that Duo can work better and smarter across both their sites and with customers too.
The remote access via VPN and introduction of Yammer has seen an increase in flexible working by the team, which in turn helps alleviate some of the stress on the building fabric. By instigating flexible working, Duo are able to get more out of the building they are in and won’t need to think about relocating for some time, despite their rapid growth.
Like many manufacturing companies, Duo relied on paper-based processes, such as job scheduling and tracking, for example. This is being superseded by centrally-managed software-based solution that uses industrial strength high-quality screens from our Digital Signage portfolio.
Security is, of course, important and we’ve used ESET for virus scanning to ensure Duo’s business is protected from malicious emails.
In addition, W-Fi is being rolled out across the entire site, including the manufacturing area, so that bar-coded raw product can be tracked on a project-by-project basis, so the precise location of exact quantities of materials can easily be tracked. This allows for faster and more accurate auditing of projects for both time taken and margin.
“With Silverbug’s help, we’ve gone from the minor league in terms of our office IT to the Premier League. With our old solution, there were problems happening all the time and it could have fallen off a cliff at anytime. What we had to do was to spend some money and get it up to the level where we needed it to be…..Silverbug are a lot more professional than the previous company.”
Dale Brimlow, Operations Director
Overall, there has been a general uplift in terms of system performance. The move towards a virtualised environment has meant that Duo’s growth and seasonal business model has been accommodated easily by the IT infrastructure. Office365, remote secure access and Yammer have enabled remote and collaborative working which has engendered a stronger sense of teamwork, as well as helping Duo get more out of their existing buildings.
Office365 has also improved collaboration and teamwork across the two locations of Manchester and Derby.
The consultative approach that Silverbug uses, the technical and commercial understanding of our CEBA-certified service design team means that Duo can focus their expertise on innovations in packaging design, while relying on a virtual IT team that understands their business strategy.
Duo’s investment in manufacturing plant can now really be exploited by enabling their team to work better, smarter, faster with a 21st century IT solution that’s shaped to fit their business.
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