For more than sixty years, ARCOL UK Ltd has manufactured fine quality resistors for the electronics industry, with emphasis on attention to detail and level of service. But far from looking back, ARCOL is now investing heavily into its future and was one of the first businesses at Threemilestone Industrial Estate to connect to 'fibre to the premises' superfast broadband, obtaining download speeds of over 90 Mbps.
ARCOL is the only manufacturer of its type in the UK and produces between three and a half to four million resistors each year at its base at Threemilestone. Its reach extends into more than thirty countries around the world, with 80% of sales being exported, and their resistors having hundreds of different uses including wind turbines, infrastructure projects at the Olympics and as part of NASA's "Themis" project, which is examining auroras in the Earth's atmosphere.
Superfast for business development
ARCOL places great emphasis on ensuring that its manufacturing, production, sales and purchasing functions operate in one place. This has produced a dynamic hub that meets the needs of every customer and every partner with ease, and it's this hub at Threemilestone that has been connected to "fibre to the premises" broadband technology, as Technical Director Alun Morgan explains:
"We have recently completed several projects to improve our operations, including extending our working base, implementing a new management system and, most recently, migrating our I.T. infrastructure to a new ERP system. Connecting the business to superfast broadband was a natural step forward and gives us many more options for future business development.
"In connecting, we mainly anticipated cost benefits and so far we've not been disappointed.
Working with a superfast VPN
"Our experience of superfast broadband so far is really superb. Our existing ADSL line was giving us an average download speed of around 1.5 Mbps; our new fibre connection is regularly providing 92 Mbps, a colossal difference which is giving us the ability to do everything much more quickly.
"Our workforce of 43 staff is predominantly based at Threemilestone but around 8 or 9 of our employees regularly work from home. Being able to log-in to our office network via our VPN (virtual private network) is crucial to ensuring that their goals remain achievable, wherever they or our global partners may happen to be, as well as maintaining the professional, quality service we take pride in.
"Superfast broadband also gave us the chance to relocate one of our salesmen to Buckinghamshire, in order to service the UK market more effectively. Our superfast fibre connectivity (and his own fibre connection) has increased the speed of his VPN by around fifteen times.
Communicating with clients and customers
"All of our sales and purchasing team have iPads, and soon, thanks to our enhanced broadband capabilities, they will be able to use them to log-in to an interactive portal, providing access to our office network. Not only will this result in immediate processing of transactions, but it will enable much more efficient resolving of queries or issues that may arise.
"For example, we attend "Electronica", the world's largest electronics trade show which is held in Munich. Where previously our show staff may have been called away for long periods to answer difficult queries by telephone, they will be able to resolve them easily via their iPads, from within the office system itself.
"We need to have the constant ability to reach out to our customers, whether the medium is IP telephony, video-conferencing or online chat. The more avenues we have to cement these important relationships, the better, and superfast broadband has given us the ability to explore them."
Benefits waiting to be realised
Superfast broadband is also opening many doors that were previously closed to ARCOL, as Alun explains:
"Before superfast, we would never have been able to contemplate hosting our own web servers, as it would have been impossible to run our office systems at the same time. Now it's becoming a reality. We're also considering adopting a cloud-based collaboration tool for our workforce, such as Office 365. And our global partners and salesmen will be able to easily log-in to our ordering system and process transactions at the touch of a button.
"When we connected to superfast broadband, we knew what benefits we were aiming for, but the fascinating thing is just how many opportunities it is giving us to keep adapting and improving the way the company is run. The benefits are there for the taking; all we need to do is seize them."
This case study is courtesy of Superfast Cornwall, a pioneering programme to bring superfast broadband to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. For more information about Superfast Cornwall please visit www.superfastcornwall.org By sharing this we aim to demonstrate the types of business we can help and how competitiveness can be improved through enhanced connectivity.