Sheffield Group – Logistics

Learn how the Sheffield Group deployed leading secure, scalable, reliable network and physical security technology across their new flagship warehousing complex.

“Our new order fulfillment and warehouse complex had to include the best technology available to optimise the customer experience, whilst ensuring key infrastructure remained resilient to outages and technology failures. Alpha Global helped us design and commission our newly installed Cisco and Verkada platforms to meet our needs which have proven to withstand the challenges of our industrial environment.”

Ben Allbut – Director, Sheffield Group
0 +
Years experience
200 %
Employees
200 +
Employees

Background

As a fourth generation, Australian family owned and operated company Sheffield Group has built a reputation of a Culture of Care combined with Products that Outperform. Established in 1970 providing shaving razors to the Royal Australian Navy, Sheffield Group had stayed true to its foundations of providing cutting tools that can be trusted in the heat of battle.

In 2021, The Sheffield Group announced the construction of their new, large-scale warehouse and distribution centre located in Newcastle, NSW. The project would see the deployment of data-driven technologies including pick and packing machines, IoT sensors and handheld devices all which had to operate flawlessly across an industrial complex.

The Challenge

The Sheffield Group were very much reliant on data-driven machines and wireless devices which made up 72% of the organisations operational technology resources in terms of industrial production-based systems. Considering the businesses success has been driven from fast-customer turnaround from pick and pack operations, emphasis was placed on ensuring the network backbone was able to meet the challenges presented from both a physical and operational perspective, whilst ensuring assets were protected and greater safety was introduced.

Technology being deployed in an industrial environment, with lots of pallet racking and machinery – wireless reception and reliability was the largest challenge as employee’s use handheld devices to pick and pack customer orders. Without a high-performing and stable network environment, the customer experience is greatly impacted resulting in delayed or missing orders.

Network Design and Physical Security Consulting
Alpha Global’s primary objective was to design a redundant 10Gb, Wifi6 network that supported distributed switching over fibre connectivity with a security focused appliance allowing redundant WAN links into their existing data centre. The network had to be capable of supporting a magnitude of devices that frequently roam within the industrial complex introducing challenges such as radio interference.

Our technology team prioritises the importance of mitigating bespoke solutions whilst simplifying platform management across the business. We were looking for options that enabled us to effectively manage our primary networking systems without reliance of being onsite or having dedicated server resources. Alpha Global understood this requirement and introduced us to technologies and features that have enabled us to provide support, insights and auditing capabilities whilst being able to comfortably scale out the solution across our sites as the organization grows.” – Peter Kane (ICT Operations Manager)

Securing Assets and Improving Safety
Considering the vast quantities of stock that is stored within the facility, Alpha Global’s second objective was to provide industry leading physical security technology that provided AI learning to incorporate people / vehicle analytics including environmental sensors and access control systems, without bespoke or non-integrated systems that secured the premises whilst improving staff safety.

Why Alpha Global?

Alpha Global supported us in our vision to launch a technology driven facility and presented options to us that fulfilled the immediate priorities. Alpha Global designed, installed and commissioned the platforms and supported us throughout the entire process. The team at Alpha Global went above and beyond to ensure operational impact was reduced during implementation and staged the installs to meet our go live plans.

Ben Allbut  – Director

Best-of-Breed Enterprise Technology
Alpha Global provided network and physical security consulting, design, and commissioning services to Sheffield Group to support the projects unique requirements. A high performing Cisco Meraki cloud managed network was commissioned including a Verkada physical security solution. Both solutions represent best of breed technologies for enterprises looking for unified management without on-premises servers or software.

Cisco Meraki Hybrid Cloud Networking
Cisco Meraki was selected to secure wireless connectivity, scalability and management. Cisco Meraki meet the requirements of the harsh industrial environment that supported the heavy user/device usage and IoT devices using the latest wifi6 protocols. Our experienced team consulted and designed both the network and physical security solutions that ensured the priorities of Sheffield Group were meet.

The introduction of cloud managed solutions meant configuration and deployment speed was increased to meet the tight schedules from the construction project managers. Configuration changes could be made remotely when required and an emphasis on network and physical security is now in place.

  • Installation of wifi6 access points for reliability and performance across the warehouse
  • Redundant network design for automatic failover using 10gb fiber connectivity.
  • Redundant WAN connectivity across fixed fiber and a wireless service with automatic recovery.
  • Security appliance to monitor and support cyber security for all WAN traffic.

Verkada Hybrid Cloud Physical Security

With the introduction of smart surveillance technology, Alpha Global commissioned a hybrid-cloud physical security solution that introduced new levels of security, investigation and safety auditing capabilities that were never available in the past.

Verkada is the first edge-based physical security technology designed for industrial settings with inbuilt AI capabilities that removes the need for servers or onsite NVRs. This scalable technology is easy to deploy and manage, and integrates sensors, access control and guest management into a single pane of glass. Sheffield Group use the technology to secure the complex and improve safety.

  • People and vehicle analytics enable faster investigations where needed.
  • Easily scales as the organisation grows, a single secure dashboard.
  • Low-bandwidth server-less solution with periodic software updates.
  • Improves complex security and safety operations from the cloud.

Final Takeaway

Alpha Global implemented a cutting-edge mix of technologies that exceeded Sheffield’s immediate requirements. The company was attracted to the solutions being highly scalable as the business grows, without the need for onsite servers or additional supporting equipment. Expanding the network or additional physical security devices becomes easy as plug and play – a capability that saves costs from a labor or maintenance perspective.

The redundant design of the entire network stack provided new levels of service not yet seen in previous operations and with the use of AI to provide deeper insights into security and safety investigations – the organisation can now confidentially continue to advance on their data driven vision.

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