Hendrix UTD is a Dutch company, that makes compound food for prime central European markets including Germany,Belgium and the Netherlands.Hendrix’s six Dutch factories rely heavily on reliable and rugged on-sitecommunications to maintain operational performance and safeguard engineers in the dusty, loud and extremely challenging conditions found within its busy fodder manufacturing facilities.
When the government sold the radio frequency used by Hendrix UTD’s factory-based security system, Hendrix UTD had to find an alternative solution to support its six facilities operating in the Netherlands.
It was eager to replace its existing 10 year old communications system with a reliable, robust platform that could meet its increasingly stringent operational and safety criteria and deliver a solid return on investment.
The nature of Hendrix UTD’s manufacturing environment, products and raw materials created some unique challenges as Remko Hendriks, Project Manager for Hendrix UTD states, “Our Dutch factories produce dry compound feed including compounds, premixes, concentrates and speciality products, in what can be a dusty, hard and rugged environment. Movement of materials through the processing facilities takes place over seven floors which can mean operating heights of up to 50 meters. Raw materials are mostly transported by boat from the river to the factory and after production loaded onto trucks for transportation.
This means that our engineers work in an environment where their handsets are at risk of being dropped into water, from vehicles and from great heights onto really hard surfaces. In addition, the factory produces noise levels well beyond 85 dB which makes it difficult to hear or make voice calls when in the factory. For these reasons, it was crucial that our new site communications included rugged handsets with good speech quality.” “Safety features were also para- mount,” Hendriks adds. “Many of our Hendrix UTD maintenance staff work alone, at night and in hazardous conditions.
To ensure they are safeguarded,we have strict safety controls and processes which are audited by Hendrix UTD’s worldwide labour inspection team. Hendrix UTD also mandates the inclusion of an emergency button on handsets so that engineers can send urgent requests for help even if they are unable to make a voice call.”
As part of a two year assessment process, Hendrix UTD examined several technology alternatives including DECT but this was considered too cost prohibitive and also insufficiently rugged for Hendrix UTD’s heavy duty industrial environment. It also required extensive hard wired infrastructure which was inappropriate for the complex sites.
Hendrix UTD finally selected the CapX Private GSM solution offered by telecom partner Scaldis Telecom. This involved the installation of strategically located base transceiver stations within individual sites and full integration with the company’s IP system to allow alarm notifications to be sent direct to the engineers’ mobile phones.
To provide high levels of reliability and to withstand the rough handling and tough working conditions, Sonim XP3340 SENTINEL ultra-rugged GSM handsets were specified to run on the new system. No ordinary GSM phones, the Sonim handsets go well beyondMIL-SPEC criteria in terms of physical durability and feature a tough Corning® Gorilla® Glass display, which is both scratch proof and shock resilient. Resistant to dust, water and extreme temperatures, the Sonim SENTINEL family also offer specific Lone Worker safety features including a dedicated red alert button for use in emergencies and as demanded by Hendrix UTD’s own safety inspectors.
Ideal for coordinating on-site teams and initiating vital maintenance processes, the Sonim phones also respond to emergency SMS messages generated by the factory‘s monitoring server - and when GSM I/O alarms are activated - alerting engineers instantly to urgent actions that are required within the factory.
The company’s five hectare site at Heijen was the first to go operational with the system in November 2011 with subsequent roll-out to other Dutch sites in Helmond, Oosterhout,Deventer and Lochem. The final site in Zwolle switched on at the end of January 2012.
Both the system and the handsets are already delivering tangible benefits as Hendriks explains, “The private GSM solution was much simpler to install and manage than other systems we explored as it did not require any extensive cabling. It was also more cost effective coming in at around a third of the cost of the DECT systems. In addition, the platform itself is very flexible and can be used to supporton-site calls from ordinary GSM phones as well as from the Sonim handsets which are used by over 100 of our engineers who operate on production floors and in our handling and transportation areas.” Because the Sonim GSM devices are more robust than DECT phones or other ruggedized handsets, they offer Hendrix UTD greater longevity thereby lowering the long term total cost of ownership. This has also allowed Hendrix UTD to increase the number of engineers who have access to the rugged devices, improving the reachability and performance of key staff.
And the benefits don’t stop there.With their extra-long battery life of more than 16 hours even with GPS tracking active and heavy voice call use, the Sonim phones can be used across two back-to-back shifts with charging - thereby ensuring continuous connectivity of the staff, reducing communication downtime.
Hendriks comments “Our old devices were three times more expensive than our new Sonim phones which last considerably longer. Their outstanding durability means breakage, maintenance and downtime is now at a minimum. The handsets are also really easy to use and we have even been able to enhance functionality further by customising on-phone screens and data to allow our engineers to place calls to the relevant contacts around the site more efficiently.”
An added bonus of the Sonim XP3340 was the noise cancellation feature which, although was not a key part of the original requirements, has proved a tremendous success with the teams involved.
Hendriks confirms,“Serviceengineers in the past were almost impossible to hear over the site phones, particularly when they were close to machinery where noise levels were at their highest. With the Sonim phones, this background noise is significantly reduced allowing engineers to be heard clearly and greatly improving the effectiveness of our maintenance calls.”
Summing up the move to GSM, Hendriks concludes, “Without doubt, the investment has been well worth it. From the initial GSM installations, we have gained invaluable experience which will help us evolve our on-site communications further. For example, we are currently examining the use of RFID tagging to provide better location positioning and enhanced staff safety within difficult to monitor areas such as silos.”
Sonim XP3400 Sentinel devices are used in 6 factory locations to maintain operations and keep workers safe.
Hendrix UTD, part of the Business Unit Hendrix and integrated into ForFarmers Group as of 1 April 2012, is a modern and ambitious company active in Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. Core activity is the sale of compound feed. Number of employees within the Business Unit Hendrix: about 680.The Total turnover of compound feed within the ForFarmers Group is 4.6 million tons.
Regular confrontation with the public
Traditional communications devices unable to withstand daily use
Mobile performance impaired by weather
Poor access to quality recordings and low trust in devices
Flexible GSM platform which supports ‘multiple devices’ to boost ROI
66% lower cost than alternative DECT system
Total cost of ownership of Sonim handsets 66% less than Hendrix’s old devices
Red alert button complies with internal safety standards
Noise cancellation feature improves onsite voice call quality
Less communications downtime due to phone charging, breakage or repair