Centrax boosts efficiency on the factory floor

With a hybrid collaboration solution from IBM and Kelros

Published on 13-Dec-2012

"By continuing our strong collaboration with the Kelros team, we’re confident that we can continue to drive improvements to the efficiency, agility and profitability of our enterprise." - Nick Sanderson, IT Systems Architect at Centrax


Industrial Products

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Cloud Computing, Enabling Business Flexibility, SmartCloud - Services, Social Business for Knowledge Sharing and Innovation

IBM Business Partner:
Kelros Ltd


Founded in 1946, Centrax has been at the forefront of the gas turbine industry for over 60 years. Based in Newton Abbott, the family-owned business specialises in compressor and turbine aerofoils, discs, shafts, casings and associated hardware including sub-assemblies and engine modules.

Business need:
Centrax Turbine Components was keen to improve communication and co-operation between the office and the factory floor by broadening access to information and collaboration tools.

IBM Premier Business Partner Kelros implemented IBM® SmartCloud™ for Social Business. The team created a hybrid solution by adding cloud email to Centrax’s existing on-premise IBM Lotus® software environment.

Elimination of paper processes on the factory floor has improved the efficiency of shift handovers. Cloud solution reduces costs by 75 percent when compared to a comparable on-premise alternative.

Case Study

Founded in 1946, Centrax has been at the forefront of the gas turbine industry for over 60 years. Based in Newton Abbott, the family-owned business specialises in compressor and turbine aerofoils, discs, shafts, casings and associated hardware including sub-assemblies and engine modules.

Paper processes reduce efficiency
Centrax Turbine Components Limited employs more than 550 people, of whom around 100 work in office-based roles, with the remaining 450 working on the factory floor. The factory employees are divided into units called “cells”. In the past, not all individuals within these cells had access to email and shared calendaring, which made it difficult to integrate them fully into the corporate culture and to ensure they were kept fully informed about updates to HR policies, standard operating procedures and quality management processes.

Without access to electronic collaboration tools, employees relied heavily on various paper-based processes. Nick Sanderson, IT Systems Architect at Centrax, explains: “In the past, our shop floor was run using paper logbooks. Whenever one of our cells finished a shift, they would write out a handover note to explain the work they had done, enabling the next shift to pick up where the last left off. This presented a potential business risk, as there was the possibility that paper records could be lost, damaged or incomplete – delaying the handover process and having an effect on our production schedule.”

Paper-based processes also generated significant operational costs – both in terms of work hours and physical resources.

Nick Sanderson comments: “For example, whenever a member of a cell needed to book annual leave or report a medical absence, it was necessary to walk all the way to our HR office to find the appropriate member of staff and complete the appropriate paper form – which was time consuming and inefficient.

“When we multiplied this time across all of the factory employees in the business, we could see that manual processes were causing significant inefficiencies. We decided that the best way to accelerate our business processes and reduce risk was to extend access to our corporate collaboration tools to key workers across all parts of the business.”

Extending Lotus Notes
The company had been using IBM Lotus Notes® and Domino® messaging and collaboration software for a number of years, and wanted to extend the benefits of this platform to 160 key employees on the factory floor.

“When we factored in the software licensing, administration, hardware and storage costs, extending our existing on-premise environment to all these new users would have been an expensive option,” continues Nick Sanderson. “We wanted a way to connect the cells to the rest of the business via Lotus Notes messaging while keeping our IT spend to a minimum.”

Developing a hybrid cloud
Centrax engaged IBM Premier Business Partner Kelros Ltd to design, implement and configure an IT solution. “We were extremely impressed with the Kelros team,” says Nick Sanderson. “They listened closely to our business requirements, and devised a cost-effective way to expand our existing Lotus Notes platform – minimising licence costs and avoiding any need to invest in additional server or storage hardware. Looking at the licensing costs alone, the solution is 75 percent more cost-effective than a fully on-premise offering.”

Working closely with Centrax’s IT department, Kelros deployed a hybrid cloud solution, seamlessly extending the existing on-premise solution by adding new Lotus Notes accounts hosted in the cloud.

Marc Garcia, Head of Sales at Kelros Ltd, comments: “The hybrid is a combination of Centrax’s existing on-premise Lotus Notes environment and IBM SmartCloud for Social Business, which provides email services hosted at an IBM data centre.”

Richard Dew, IT Consultant at Kelros Ltd, adds: “No new on-site servers were required – I simply had to configure the SmartCloud Hybrid Services on a pass-through server using the SmartCloud web based administration assistant. Once this was completed we could provision the SmartCloud users so they could log in from any desktop machine connected to the internet using a supported web browser.”

Simple installation
With its high level of in-house competence in Lotus Notes, Centrax was able to adopt the hybrid cloud with minimal business disruption. “The new cloud-based email accounts are easy to manage,” says Ian Anderson, IT Technician at Centrax. “The administration interface is exactly the same as that of our on-premise Lotus Domino server, so there was no difficulty in provisioning new accounts – it only takes three mouse-clicks. In fact, there were no issues with the implementation whatsoever. Kelros helped us to get up and running exactly on schedule.”

Increasing efficiency
Thanks to IBM and Kelros, Centrax has gained the cost-effective platform it needed to connect its business units – driving efficiency improvements across the business, and enabling the agility to respond rapidly to customer demand.

“Because email has now replaced our paper-based processes, the tempo and quality of communication have increased dramatically,” says Nick Sanderson. “In addition to reducing the business risk associated with lost, damaged or incomplete logbooks, we’ve improved the efficiency of shift handovers, as all the information is permanently logged and recorded electronically.”

The IBM solution has also enabled increased efficiency in other areas of the company. Nick Sanderson comments: “In the past, modifying our standard operating procedures was a time-consuming process, as a number of meetings would need to be called to explain the changes to our factory employees. Today, any process alterations are disseminated by our electronic change request system via Lotus Notes, which automatically emails updates to all of our factory employees. When an employee checks the Lotus dashboard at the beginning of a shift, he or she can quickly review any new information.”

Convenient availability of information yielded other, unexpected benefits. “Because the absence-recording and logbook spreadsheets are now emailed to all users, each cell can see how they are performing relative to their colleagues,” says Nick Sanderson.

“What’s more, because our employees know they can easily communicate with any level of the business, they feel much more involved in the culture of the company, and everyone is able to work together more effectively as a team.”

Looking to the future
Inspired by the success of the IBM SmartCloud solution, Centrax has plans to further increase the functionality of its Lotus Notes solution. “We are currently investigating the use of electronic payslips, which can be sent via email,” concludes Nick Sanderson.

“Overall, we’re extremely satisfied with the IBM hybrid cloud that Kelros has delivered. By continuing our strong collaboration with the Kelros team, we’re confident that we can continue to drive improvements to the efficiency, agility and profitability of our enterprise.”

About Kelros Ltd
Founded in 1996, Kelros is an IBM Premier Partner focusing on Lotus technologies and services. The company implements, develops and supports Lotus environments and applications, and enables both small and large enterprises to attain the optimal IBM environment to suit their individual business requirements.

To learn more about products, services and solutions from Kelros, visit: www.kelros.com

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

IBM Notes, IBM Domino

IBM Global Services

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM United Kingdom Limited PO Box 41 North Harbour Portsmouth Hampshire PO6 3AU Produced in the United Kingdom December 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Domino, Lotus, Notes, and SmartCloud are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at: www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. IBM and Kelros Ltd are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor Kelros Ltd makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. References in this publication to IBM products, programs or services do not imply that IBM intends to make these available in all countries in which IBM operates. Any reference to an IBM product, program or service is not intended to imply that only IBM’s product, program or service may be used. Any functionally equivalent product, program or service may be used instead. All customer examples cited represent how some customers have used IBM products and the results they may have achieved. Actual environmental costs and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. IBM hardware products are manufactured from new parts, or new and used parts. In some cases, the hardware product may not be new and may have been previously installed. Regardless, IBM warranty terms apply. This publication is for general guidance only. Photographs may show design models.