When Reynaers Aluminium’s telephone exchange had become well and truly outdated, the window and door frame manufacturer realised it was time to evolve to a new system that supported mobile working. Microsoft subscriber Reynaers opted for Skype for Business, and called on Inia to integrate the new system, who suggested a step-by-step transition. Following the successful telephony project, Inia also updated the wireless network with some 200 Aruba antennas. All the order pickers in the 12.5 hectare warehouses now make calls using VoIP-over-WiFi.
All 300 employees in the head office in Duffel, Belgium, can now make calls using Skype, just like their Dutch colleagues. They use ‘Lync-to-Lync’ to call colleagues in the US branch. The new system is scheduled to be set up for Reynaers France too, but it won’t be a ‘big bang’ there either.
‘It wasn’t a traditional migration for us, but a full transition over the course of a weekend,’ says Patrick Elsen, ICT Infrastructure Manager for Reynaers Aluminium. ‘Our employees come from lots of different backgrounds, so we prefer to tackle a major project like telephony in phases. Everyone has to start by learning the new system first. Evolution rather than revolution.’
Inia was the only provider to suggest a step-by-step approach to implementing the new Skype server in a hybrid environment with the old telephone exchange. Inia was also the only company to offer a solution for training the employees, with help from the Xylos Group.
‘This meant we could work department by department, and so prepare everyone properly for the transition. Skype for Business isn’t just about telephones for us; it’s also about integrating all our various means of communication, or Unified Communications. People have to learn a new way of working with and thinking about communication. The majority are now using softphones to make calls, for example, which is one reason why Xylos developed a special e-learning course for us, in three different languages. We also ran a number of workshops together with Xylos to be able to put this digital learning into practice.’
The softphones make it easier for us to contact our mobile colleagues than it was before, amongst other things. And the cost of international calls has been removed now too, including to our colleagues in the US. This saving compared to expensive mobile phone calls is very welcome, but Reynaers mainly made the switch to Skype because of its added extra such as presence, instant messaging and video calls.
You can immediately see who’s available, away or doesn’t want to be disturbed. The video conferencing systems are used a lot in the four different Reynaers branches too. Inia linked all this to the Skype server, so you can video-call the meeting rooms directly.
Meanwhile, the four receptionists are working with Anywhere 365, a telephone reception application that’s fully integrated with Skype for Business. ‘They were the last ones to switch over,’ says Elsen. ‘Inia helped us create cascades so we can route calls better. You can see the caller’s route perfectly from the reception. People generally find Unified Communications a bit more complicated, but they’re very happy now. It’s very useful being able to make calls or chat directly from Outlook or SharePoint.’
In 2014, Reynaers decided to update its 8-year-old WiFi network. A faster standard would enable the company to switch to VoIP-over-WiFi. It was after all expanding its warehouses by some 25,000m², so more DECT antennas wasn’t the right solution.
Inia installed over 200 Aruba Networks access points, which give priority to Skype via quality of service. The installation took place following a site survey because signal strength is critical, especially in the warehouses. The order pickers have to be online constantly because they work with mobile terminals on their forklift trucks, and the 25 mobile printers need to be able print packing slips and other documents at all times too.
Inia is the ideal partner for Elsen: ‘We know what we can expect from them on a human, commercial and technical level. Inia is a real specialist, not a large organisation, so they’re flexible enough to adapt when necessary too. VoIP-over-WiFi is no easy task, but everything ran very smoothly. They’re making mobile calls in the warehouse now too, with Spectralink VoIP handsets.’
Elsen’s team has more control with the software for network management (AirWave) and authentication (ClearPass) thanks to Aruba. ‘Our employees can connect to the wireless networks automatically with their user accounts, so they can work remotely using their own smartphones or tablets. This has allowed us to make bring your own device possible. Innovation is one of our core values, and we want to translate this into our processes too.’
‘We know what we can expect from Inia on a human, commercial and technical level. It’s a small organisation, which means they’re flexible enough to adapt when necessary.’