Ausreo, one of the largest independent suppliers of reinforcing steel in Australia, is focused on re-configuring business processes and digitally transforming the way it operates to move closer to its customers. The manufacturer's data networks are a critical part of enabling this transformation. Ausreo turned to Sinefa to improve and protect the performance of these networks, a well as gain much needed visibility and control of network traffic across its 13 service centres along the east coast of Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Challenges

  • Network performance needed improvement to support automation and increase productivity
  • Dropouts or performance issues significantly impacted all aspects of the business
  • Complex networking issues challenged the small IT team

Solution

  • Sinefa Network Traffic Visibility and Control

Results

  • Reduced complaint calls to IT from 40 calls per month to almost zero
  • Increased network performance significantly
  • Reduced network dropouts from two to three a fortnight to a couple every six months
  • Achieved three nines (99.9 percent) for network performance and availability

Like most areas of manufacturing in Australia, businesses in the highly competitive reinforcing steel industry must shift focus from commodities to a technology intensive and digital strategy. This approach is not only crucial to keep costs down, but to also increase quality, design and innovation to meet customer demand.

Ausreo, one of the largest independent suppliers of reinforcing steel in Australia, is focused on re-configuring business processes and digitally transforming the way it operates to move closer to its customers. The manufacturer's data networks are a critical part of enabling this transformation. Ausreo turned to Sinefa to improve and protect the performance of these networks, a well as gain much needed visibility and control of network traffic across its 13 service centres along the east coast of Australia.

Challenge: 

100 percent Australian owned and operated, Ausreo has grown rapidly from inception in 2001 to take an increasing share of the $1 billion steel reinforcing sector in Australia. Its investment in steel manufacturing automation is helping customers construct faster and with greater certainty.

As this focus increases, the manufacturer is moving closer to its customers, not only in terms of physical locations, but also the way that it collaborates with them throughout the construction cycle. This is being achieved by automating the way that data is collected and converted into information to give customers the ability to self-serve; this in turn frees its employees up to work on more complex issues.

"With our manufacturing environment and customer support offices linked to our networks, they're vital to the productivity of our employees and increased margins," said Brendon Kelly, information systems manager for Ausreo. "In turn, this means that any network dropouts or performance issues have a significant impact on all aspects of our business."

Networking issues were becoming a significant challenge for the internal IT team of three, who are mainly focused on improving business processes, rather than technical issues. The company was experiencing several outages a day. A tone point, the network was down for three days, resulting in a week and a half of interruption to business, with data having to be manually re-entered.

These issues severely impact productivity, particularly with 30-40 people employed at each site. When computers ran slow, employees would stop working for five minutes while the problem was rectified, then it would take them another 10 minutes to get back to what they were doing previously.

Ausreo deployed a Telstra hosted network service via thin client in 2012 to improve its networking, with manufacturing applications requiring virtualized sever assets. It also implemented Telstra's IP Telephony (TIPIT) solution for HTTP traffic across its fibre network.

However, Ausreo was still experiencing micro dropouts. The manufacturer needed to add another layer to enhance the performance of its networks, improve productivity and protect its manufacturing production machines.

Solution:

Telstra partner Strong Solutions introduced Ausreo to Sinefa's network traffic visibility and control solution and arranged a 14 day trial at its Sydney head office, where it was having particular issues.

"Sinefa worked straight away - it was instant gratification," Kelly said. "Any problems at our head office were resolved within days. It was clear this was the solution we needed. It was that well received that our CEO and CFO signed on the dotted line the week after the trial finished."

Ausreo rolled out Sinefa's network visibility and control solution to 13 sites in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria in 2016, which has given the company control of its networks down to the application layer.

Sinefa enables Ausreo to identify, block or reduce traffic when required across its networks, particularly when certain activities are hogging bandwidth, such as a particular application using a lot of data, or employees running recreational peer-to-peer applications or using the work network for private business. Sinefa identifies any problems, targets a particular application or user and then shapes the traffic appropriately to avoid any issues. Previously, Ausreo did not have tha tlevel of granularity or response time.

"If we had a person or device using the network inappropriately, it used to take us hours to find them and identify what they were actually doing," Kelly said. "Sinefa enables us to quickly drill down, resolve the issue and shape the traffic accordingly. It just works so well."

The Future

Since introducing SInefa into its networks, Ausreo's network performance has dramatically increased, with dropouts reduced from two to three a fortnight to a couple every six months. It is now reaching three nines (99.9 percent) for network performance and availability. This in turn has improved productivity at each of its 13 sites. The volume of complaint calls from users to Internal IT has gone from 40 calls per month to almost zero.

"Since we installed Sinefa, I've received three recorded episodes of a reported perceived networking issue," Kelly said. "However, Sinefa proved that it wasn't the network itself - it was actually our managed service. Being able to attribute where an issue is and fix it is invaluable. It inherently means that people have more time to get on and do their jobs instead of ringing up and blaming IT for slowing down their day. We can now focus our attention on process efficiency."

This has also resulted in a huge drop in third party support cost to Telstra, as well as savings on outsourcing charges to external technical resources. If Ausreo had a problem before Sinefa, the IT team would log a call to start IP tracing and they would get a report 4-6 hours later, which was too late as the problem had passed. The response was to throw more bandwidth at the networks from 2 MB to 4 MB with a hope of solving any issues, when it actually was not required. Now due to natural growth, Ausreo needs that increased bandwidth, but Sinefa has shown the manufacturer it does not have to go beyond that.

"With the right analysis now on network traffic and performance, we can target spend in the right places, rather than simply throwing money on more bandwidth, when in fact it wasn't the problem," Kelly added. "Our management team really appreciates that. I do too as I can spend the money on new things to enhance our business processes."

Due to these improvements, Ausreo has been able to avoid increasing the headcount in the IT team from three, which is particularly beneficial given the complexity of its network. It was close to hiring a network specialist or contractor, but Sinefa has curtailed that at a minimal cost.

"Having Sinefa as an extra layer of network protecting and monitoring is hard to put a dollar figure on, but if we pulled it out, we'd know all about it," Kelly comment. "The only way I could get a figure is to cripple the network by pulling it out, which I'm not tempted to do. Now when we build a new site, Sinefa is standard equipment - it's so easy to use and rollout."