Behind the scenes at Tunnocks Teacakes – keeping the phones ringing

Behind the scenes at Tunnocks Teacakes – keeping the phones ringing
August 25, 2018 Joanna Goddard
Tunnocks Teacakes

The network at Tunnocks Teacakes was running at near full capacity and the telephony system was verging on obsolescence for spare parts. They only had a week’s window in the entire year when the factory shut down and an upgrade could take place, so good planning, organisation and timing were of the essence. This critical telephony systems upgrade at Tunnocks Teacakes was successfully completed with support from ND Communications.

Support so good in fact that Tunnocks Teacakes was happy to share some behind the scenes info to tell the story of why top class secure communications support is so important in todays business;

Tunnocks, a family story

Thomas Tunnock Limited (commonly known as Tunnock’s) was formed in 1890, when Thomas purchased a baker’s shop in Lanarkshire, Scotland. Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers are their best-selling product, followed by the Tunnock’s Teacake. Other well-known products include the Snowball, a coconut-dusted teacake with no biscuit base, and Caramel Logs. (tempted already? You can order some here)

Tunnock’s has been growing and expanding year on year ever since, and now have over 500 staff.

Factory tours have become so popular that the firm keeps a two- year waiting list to manage demand.

The challenge

Tunnock’s faced two main challenges:
1. Their existing network infrastructure was running at over 90% capacity which was causing operational constraints
2. Their telephony was a legacy PSTN system which, whilst still functional, meant that spare parts were soon to become obsolete.

There was more of an urgent need to upgrade the network infrastructure but it made sense to also upgrade their telephony system simultaneously, for a truly integrated, compatible unified communications (UC) solution.

ND Communications was an existing IT supplier to Tunnocks and we were approached to source, design and implement a new UC solution.

After completing a technical evaluation and the budget agreed, we took control of the consulting, strategy, procurement and deployment of the new IT solution.

Everyone was under extremely tight deadlines to get the solution implemented as Tunnock’s only have one week (the first week in January when production stops after the Christmas rush) when they can perform upgrades and changes, due to strict hygiene rules within the food industry.

The teamwork between ND Communications and Tunnocks staff team was seamless.
“Net-Defence’s guidance and support has been invaluable”

The details – how we approached it

We completed the majority of the pre-deployment preparation in December, with procurement staff on site throughout much of December, but the team couldn’t physically start the installation until the factory shut down.

The actual implementation commenced on 4th January. ND Communications then carried out a site survey of the physical network infrastructure and found that they could use most of the existing cabling, but needed to add copper and fibre. They installed HP switching on a wired network and replaced the entire Cisco wireless infrastructure with new Aerohive Wifi. The telephony solution was 100% compatible with the network. There were also two separate telephony sites with a complex link which also had to be upgraded.

ND Communications had two engineers on site for three days, configuring all the hardware and software. It was a mammoth task, also working around numerous other Facilities contractors who were providing upgrades and maintenance work at the same time, but they were very proactive and worked hard to meet the deadline.

The new systems were up and running and the factory re-opened for production on schedule, Monday 11th January .

All Tunnock’s users had a day’s training on the new system, which gave them plenty of time to familiarise themselves with any new functionality, and they were also given a crib sheet in case of ongoing queries.

A ND Communications telephone engineer spent a bit more time explaining to the receptionists how the new switchboard worked.

Peace of mind – results

Peace of mind in the resilience and maintainability of the new network infrastructure is the major benefit, as the network now has full redundancy which is critical in a production environment, where dispatch operations are key to the successful running of the business. The network can now be easily maintained in-house and there are two paths of redundancy. The ongoing telephony costs have not really changed as Tunnock’s are still using the same line provider but they now have the reassurance that they are not relying on legacy telephone equipment.

Bill Henderson, Computer Systems Manager for Tunnock’s, commented:
“ND Communications professional guidance and support has been invaluable to the successful, swift implementation of this project. Their customer service has been second to none and has really helped when we were meeting such tight deadlines. They are also providing us with a support contract, meaning that business-critical IT operations run smoothly, 24/7.”

Family matters

ND Communications is also a family business – part of Ogilvie Group which has a third generation family member at the helm. Ogilvie Groups has been trading for over 65 years and is a popular choice for secure communications and security provision through our sister brand Net defence for family businesses throughout the UK.

If you would like to find out about system changes or about selecting a new system for your organisation communications, no matter the limits on when this could be tackled, contact our team – we always love a challenge!