Refrigerator showing product in large super market

Case study:Food Distributor Refreshes Infrastructure in Extreme Temps

15 Aug 2018 by Lana Gates

Facts at a glance

Client industry:

Food distribution

Size of company:

300 distribution facilities worldwide, 65,000 employees

Challenge:

The client needed to update legacy wireless infrastructure across more than 200 distribution facilities, some in -30º temperatures — without disrupting business.

Solution:

  • Insight Managed Deployment services
  • Specially trained transition teams

Results

  • Upgraded multiple sites at a time
  • 50– to 70–day site refreshes from start to finish
  • 24-hour cutover of each site, with no business disruption

A global leader in marketing and distribution of food products had acquired a number of companies over a two-year period. As part of a companywide refresh initiative and corporate integration strategy, the client needed to integrate all of the technology at its acquired sites with existing company hardware, and all of the sites — not just those acquired — needed modernized cabling and network infrastructure.

Compounding the challenge, the unique physical environment had to be taken into account. Many of the facilities housed anywhere from 300 to 100,000 square feet of freezer storage, with temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit in those areas.

The client first contacted its wireless service provider for help, but the provider didn’t have the scale or the rugged equipment necessary to complete the project in the harsh environmental conditions.

Finding a solution

At the wireless provider’s recommendation, the client reached out to Insight to complete the project. Our strong partner relationship and expertise with Cisco solutions, which are heavily used by the client, were important factors in the decision.

Many of the facilities housed anywhere from 300 to 100,000 square feet of freezer storage, with temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit in those areas.

We recommended a network refresh using Insight Managed Deployment services to solve the client’s challenges. This end-to-end solution covers every aspect of network deployment, giving businesses a powerful backbone that provides storage, computing power and connectivity to the entire organization. Our technicians and engineers work together to procure, provision and install new infrastructure without disrupting the flow of business.

A customized deployment strategy

Insight developed a custom deployment plan that divided the work at each of the more than 200 distribution facilities into four incremental phases. The first phase involved surveying a site to determine the scope of work for that particular location. Next came the operating network design, followed by cabling remediation and, finally, network infrastructure implementation.

To ensure success and meet the client’s regulatory requirements, every Insight teammate assigned to the project received comprehensive training. They learned specifics about how to work within the client’s facilities, where compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards and other safety requirements is essential.

“We don’t send inexperienced people out into these environments,” says John Brooks, a director of services at Insight.

The entire project at each location took 50 to 70 days to complete all four phases. Each site upgrade involved a three- to 20-person cutover team, depending on the size of the distribution center.

“We rely on our specially trained teammates, and we’ve never failed to get one of the businesses up and running.”

A 24-hour window to success

The most challenging aspect of the project was entirely upgrading each facility in a 24-hour period. “It’s an all-or-nothing cutover,” Brooks explains, with no backup plan for if something went awry. The 24-hour transition periods were also physically demanding, requiring teammates to either work 24 hours straight or in shifts. Most of the cutover work took place on nights and weekends to avoid disruption to the normal course of business.

Some facilities span up to 1 million square feet, presenting a unique challenge in themselves and requiring more Insight teammates than smaller distribution centers.

Because of the strict requirements in refreshing infrastructure without disrupting business, this project has been a huge undertaking. The operating companies are revenue-generating and can’t afford any downtime. We’ve been able to meet that need, even with the harsh environmental conditions. “The delivery team has always delivered and delivered well,” Brooks notes.

Insight has upgraded approximately 80 of the distribution facilities to date and expects it will take at least a year to complete the remaining locations. Fortunately, we’re able to work on multiple sites simultaneously.

It’s one of the most difficult projects Insight’s ever attempted due to the environmental conditions and the short cutover time, but we’ve risen to the challenge. As Brooks sums, “We rely on our specially trained teammates, and we’ve never failed to get one of the businesses up and running.”

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