George Weston Foods has been an institution in the New Zealand food manufacturing industry for over 50 years, producing some of the country’s best-loved brands including Tip Top, Burgen, Ploughmans, Big Ben, Golden and Bazaar.
Today, the company operates across three key divisions, employing more than 600 staff across 17 sites nationwide from Whangarei to Invercargill and produces more than 1.2 million loaves of bread, buns, rolls, muffins and crumpets every week.
George Weston Foods was finding its existing telecommunications environment challenging to maintain and costly to manage. Each of its sites nationwide supported its own local access and onsite PABX, while a Wide Area Network supported business critical data applications. While comprehensive, the system was inefficient in places and costly, with some of the Baking Division’s 450 lines underutilised, or in some cases sitting near idle.
It was also discovered that as the equipment neared its end of life, it was becoming more difficult to support and maintain. Employees were unable to make simple programming changes, having to rely on external parties for maintenance.
Inter-company calling was proving another costly exercise. With the business paying national and international toll rates for calling between offices, the overall telecommunications service was no longer cost effective or easily scalable.
With the company operating across multiple sites with frequent interbranch contact, a centralised and streamlined approach to telecommunications was required. It was vital that any upgrades to the telecommunications service incorporated innovative technology to boost efficiency, support the provision of excellent customer service and reduce operating costs across its sites.
With the aim of centralising all telecommunications services, Andy Denley, George Weston Foods IT Manager, began reviewing the company’s existing infrastructure and seeking alternative solutions.
He identified SIP trunking as a flexible solution that enabled voice to be delivered over the existing WAN infrastructure and having the additional benefit of reducing the number of local access points and eliminating the need for an onsite PABX.
“Initial research found that there was little market choice, with most providers offering a ‘vanilla’ solution,” says Denley. As a relatively new product to the New Zealand market he found that most local providers could not offer a comprehensive line up of products and services to make the most of SIP Trunking.
George Weston Foods transformed their telecommunications infrastructure by centralising their IP PABX platform, leveraging their Wide Area Network and deploying SIP trunks between key sites. The consolidation of voice circuits across the multiple sites has led the way for cost savings and enabled full IP PABX functionality to be rolled out across all of their sites, and as a result, implementation of extension dialling.
According to Denley, Vocus invested time testing the strength and deployment of its SIP trunks to ensure that in the rare event the lines do fail at one site, they can be automatically re-routed to another. With George Weston Foods’ staff geographically spread it was vital that a strong disaster recovery solution provided continuity for both for inter-office communication and the provision of customer services via 0800 numbers.
Significant business benefits are very quickly being seen by George Weston Foods’ Baking Division and plans are underway to roll out the solution to other divisions.
Thanks to SIP trunking there is a significant reduction in access costs as well as local and national call costs. Employees in the Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch offices are now able to dial their colleagues at other sites on internal extensions free of charge. Furthermore, with such a large number of lines now operating on Vocus SIP trunks, it has only taken a short time for the return on investment to be realised.
He also believes the transition to new services has been seamless and facilitated in no small way by Vocus’ staff. “The Vocus team were fantastic from the beginning.They sat down with our senior managers and demonstrated a real willingness to work with George Weston Foods and were highly proactive in researching and identifying the right types of services to fit our business.”
Since implementation, Denley says that the level of ongoing service has been excellent. He particularly appreciates the fact that his provider is New Zealand based and therefore readily accessible when required.
Today, Vocus continues to remain proactive and is constantly looking at new ways to further streamline the George Weston Foods business and improve efficiency. Opportunities currently being explored include a fax to email service and a web based billing engine. The latter is currently being built for the company’s three divisions where all call data can be uploaded, easily customised and then downloaded by individual staff members.
“While we’ve been thrilled at the impact the products and services have had on the day to day running of our business and the bottom line, it’s the relationship between George Weston Foods and Vocus which has been a key component to the success of this partnership,” concludes Denley.
*George Weston Foods were originally serviced by CallPlus Business Services. In July 2017, CallPlus rebranded to Vocus Communications.