Case Study: Nilfisk UK

15:42 in Case Studies by Duncan Brown

Nilfisk distribution centre, Penrith

The Nilfisk Group manufacture, sell, and service cleaning equipment, from vacuum cleaners to road sweepers. When it opened its British arm in the 1970s it made sense for its distribution centre to be in Penrith with its historical links to the farming industry. It now employs about thirty people in distribution, sales, manufacturing and administration. The UK office is one of the largest in the group and it would like to grow.

But slow broadband is cramping it. The Penrith office has been marooned because of its feeble connection. “We pay £10,000 a year for our 2Mbps connection,” says Gary Edmonson, Nilfisk’s Finance Director. Even at that price, there is no guarantee of service and speeds are inconsistent. In Nilfisk’s native Denmark, he notes, they pay less than that for a 100Mbps connection linking the two principal offices. Videoconferencing between Europe and the US has become part of the normal run of business for Nilfisk, but there is no hope of joining these virtual meetings from Penrith. “They wouldn’t dare attempt to implement videoconferencing on our network,” says Gary. But if it were possible, he reckons the installation would pay for itself in savings on flights abroad alone.

Next generation IT services like teleconferencing were long considered the luxuries of a high-tech future, but for many international companies this is no longer the case. Next generation services can save them money, and the pace of change is accelerating. While it is only in the last two years that network speeds have started to affect business, Gary estimates that his company has fewer than 12 months to solve its network problems before the Nilfisk business will really start to be left behind other parts of the Nilfisk Group and this will have major implications for the UK business. “We’ve been based in Cumbria for many years, we’re desperate to stay in Cumbria,” says Gary. “The ability to access high speed broadband will be critical to our business going forward”.