30 January 2014
VWS Westgarth wanted an IT solution to help get closer to its customers, and to give them outstanding levels of service. When a series of network outages threatened to damage its reputation, Virgin Media Business was brought in to provide a more secure and resilient network solution. With a new super-fast network in place, the firm is working smarter and has boosted its customer service levels.
Losing sleep over outages
Headquartered in Scotland, VWS Westgarth works closely with its customers to design and build water treatment facilities for off-shore oil and gas platforms. Down time caused by network outages is bad news for any business, but for VWS Westgarth, constant customer contact is essential. Planning build and design details are sent back and forth for input and customer sign-off on a daily basis. But without a reliable internet connection this was becoming impossible, and the business lost nearly 150 hours in a single year with its old BT solution.
From the water and treatment plant design centre in Scotland, huge amounts of data containing 3D design images of oil rigs and Floating Production Storage and Offload (FPSO) are distributed to its two other England-based offices. What’s more, sharing these documents with customers is an essential part of the development process. So a robust and resilient connection is absolutely vital to ensuring that important files can be moved around at speed.
“Our old system was extremely unreliable and slow. We always faced bottlenecks, but the biggest problem we had was when the network went down, which was all the time!” said Hunter Fairley, Project Services Manager at VWS Westgarth. “Our three most serious outages lasted between 24 hours and 72 hours each. Each time it happened, it was a case of ringing up an engineer, waiting hours for them to respond and come up with a solution to the problem, waiting even longer to get the problem fixed, and then finally, recovering any lost data.”
“When you consider that our phones are completely digital too, you start to understand just how huge an impact a network outage of this length had on our bottom line. With our 200 staff unable to make any contact with the outside world, we were losing tens of thousands of pounds for each day we were down. And it wasn’t just money we were losing. Our reputation was at stake, so something needed to change, and fast.”
Getting closer to its customer
VWS Westgarth wanted to streamline operations between its sites in Scotland and England, making sure that communications within the business and with their valuable customers was as quick and easy as possible. Virgin Media Business’ National Ethernet solution has helped VWS Westgarth to link its sites together and greatly improve data transfer speeds. With a low-cost, high bandwidth network, staff can now transfer multiple files between sites and to customers in an instant.
The brand new network connects the firm’s HQ in East Kilbride to its second site at Gloucester and data centre at Marlow. With greater bandwidth, the National Ethernet connection is the backbone for VWS Westgarth’s 200-strong team, who can now easily send large data files across the firm’s multiple sites and share 3D designs with its customers.
“Because of the sheer size of the files that we’re sharing across multiple sites, the demand on our network is huge. Our old system hadn’t been designed to meet our business requirements properly, and so it was buckling under the pressure,” Hunter explained.
“When we were connected to the old network solution, transferring files across different sites to the server used to take minutes,” Hunter said. “Now it’s just a matter of seconds. Thanks to the speedy downloads, our staff are now able to work far more efficiently, sharing their designs with customers more quickly and transforming our quality of service.”
“Since connecting to Virgin Media Business’ network, we haven’t experienced any downtime at all.” Hunter added.
Better on site services
The network also supports the firm’s VoIP system, giving it a better foundation for voice traffic going across the network. The number of LAN switches has been cut in half as telephone lines now feed directly into each staff member’s desktop. And with each site locally connected, calls coming into one service desk can be picked up at another service desk hundreds of miles away, dramatically improving customer response times.
VWS Westgarth wanted staff to enjoy faster internet and email connectivity, and download multimedia files with ease. With Virgin Media Business’ Big Red Internet connection in place, outages are not only a thing of the past, but with 100MB of capacity and unlimited bandwidth, staff are truly free to go about their business.
Thanks to unrestrained bandwidth, the business is now using video conferencing to communicate with staff and customers. What’s more, regular visitors on site are able to access guest WiFi.
Hunter commented, “Making the most of our new network solution, visitors now have access to a guest WiFi connection. They can use their own smartphones, tablets, and laptops to connect to the internet when they’re visiting us, something they couldn’t previously do.”
“We chose Virgin Media Business over a number of other suppliers because they offered us a one-stop-shop solution which made the process of taking our communications to the next level completely painless,” said Hunter. “The team actually took the time to design a network solution that met our needs. They went above and beyond expectations by laying over 12km of cabling over a number of weekends to make sure disruption was kept to a minimum and crucially, we weren’t losing any more business hours.”