The Cape Grim Beef Partnership came about when long-time IT partner, Intellect IT, worked with the organisation, to implement an improved communication system.
Scope of partnership
- Video conferencing for multi site collaboration
- Phone system upgrade
- Storage and networking solutions
- IT support services & consulting
Cape Grim Beef is a sixth-generation family business that processes high-quality beef and exports it globally, where it is used in the best restaurants around the world as well as being sold to consumers. The company is headquartered in Port Melbourne, Victoria, with two processing facilities in Smithton, Tasmania and Tongala, Victoria.
Communication within the business is vital to ensure a rapid response to market demands and changes. It is also important due to occupational health and safety (OH&S) considerations, since the processing facilities includes some high-risk work spaces. In an emergency it would be critical to be able to contact the first aid team or emergency services as quickly as possible.
Effective communication was hindered in the past due to an outdated, switchboard based telephone system and a network of two-way radios. To contact someone in the processing facility would require calling the switchboard and asking for the employee to be located. That would be achieved through the use of two-way radios, which were not always reliable, and the employee would get to the nearest phone to take the call.
The process was unwieldy and meant communication was inefficient. This resulted in frustration amongst staff and could result in delays in making important decisions regarding customer orders, shipping, labelling and more.
To overcome these challenges Cape Grim Beef installed a new IP PBX linking all three sites, as well as Spectralink IP-DECT 6500 Servers and 45 Spectralink 7620 industrial handsets at the two processing facilities. Cape Grim Beef worked with long-time outsourced IT partner, Intellect Information Technology, with which the organisation had a longstanding relationship.
Max Soukhomlinov, director, Intellect IT, said, “Intellect IT has delivered outsourced IT services to Cape Grim Beef for more than eight years so we know their specific needs and challenges well. The outcome we wanted to achieve for Cape Grim Beef was a seamless solution to improve communication within this organisation that has multiple physical locations. It was critical to let employees at different locations communicate as if they were at a single site.”
Grant Ryan, managing director, Cape Grim Beef, said, “Intellect IT presented the solution and we saw a demonstration of how it would work. We liked it immediately because we could see that it would make communication more efficient throughout the organisation.
“The biggest problem was not being able to directly contact people at our processing facilities, and there was no ability to do conference calls, which meant that discussing issues and making decisions was more challenging than it should have been.
“Now, when a member of the sales team wants to speak with a production facility to confirm quantities, specifications, delivery times and costs, they can directly dial the relevant person, conference someone else in if necessary, confirm all the details and get on with fulfilling the customer’s needs. It all happens a lot faster and more reliably than in the past, which has let Cape Grim Beef improve customer service.”
Making faster decisions at the Smithton production facility
The Smithton site is made up of a number of different buildings in a regional area of Tasmania, so mobile phone coverage is sporadic and even the two-way radios did not always work reliably. This could become a problem if decisions needed to be made quickly.
Robert Cox, Smithton site manager, Cape Grim Beef, said, “Recently there was an issue in the US and shipments from all over the world were being held up. Head office decided to change the production schedule and divert product to a different location. It was critical that the production facility could get this message as soon as possible so that we could make the necessary changes to production, as well as apply for the proper permits and paperwork to enable the change in destination for the product.
“Without the Spectralink telephones, this process would have taken along time and there may have been the potential for errors to be made as messages were passed on. With the Spectralink system we were able to get the right information to the right people right away, and respond to the changing conditions effectively.”
Easier compliance and better efficiency
Additional benefits of the new phone system include a more efficient approach to maintenance and easier compliance with OH&S requirements.
Robert Cox said, “Previously if there was a problem with a piece of equipment we would need to call the service provider to the site, which incurred costs, or else go through a complex process of messages and patchy mobile phone conversations to try to fix the equipment on the go. Now, it’s a simple matter of calling the service provider from the Spectralink phone while the person is in front of the machine. The service provider can then talk that person through the process for getting the machine back up and running again. This saves a lot of time and cost.
“OH&S compliance is also improved because of the ease of communication. A meat processing plant can be dangerous and if an accident happens, workers would use the phones to contact the first aid team or emergency services instantly, which gets help to the injured worker sooner rather than later.”
Robust handsets make communication easier
The Cape Grim Beef processing plants are a harsh environment with concrete and steel surfaces, some very hot areas and some very cold areas, as well as a lot of liquids. The Spectralink 7620 phones are specifically designed to cope with these conditions.
Robert Cox said, “I have seen a number of the phones dropped accidentally but so far we have had no issue with any of them; they are very tough.”
“The phones work just as well in the freezer units or boning rooms as they do in between buildings or in any other area of the facility because Intellect IT placed the repeaters and
base stations in strategic areas to maximise the amount of coverage.”
Importantly, the introduction of the Spectralink wireless phones has improved communication throughout the organisation.
Grant Ryan said, “Being able to contact each other so easily and quickly has really brought people together and they feel that they are working very effectively as a team.You just dial an extension and speak to the person you need. This wasn’t possible before, so people just really appreciate the ability to call each other more regularly. It has definitely improved the culture as well as making it easier for the business to deliver better customer service and work more effectively.”
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