The Erith Group

Construction services provider

Key facts
  • 50-100 construction sites 
  • 1 corporate head office campus
  • 1 logistics & materials treatment facility 
  • Remote, temporary locations
  • Unreliable, patchy 4G coverage
  • On-premise document management system at head office
  • Inadequate bandwidth

Client background

Founded 1966, Erith is a family-run, employee-owned trust delivering a broad portfolio of enabling services to businesses in construction-related sectors from building through to demolition. Headquartered in Erith, Kent, the company also has a second office in the town, and others in London, West Lothian, Staffordshire, and Normanton, near Leeds.

The need

Working within the construction industry and providing a broad range of capabilities such as asbestos removal, demolition, engineering and earthworks, Erith manage multiple projects across the UK and Ireland in locations that aren’t always well served for connectivity.

Temporary site offices are usually established for each project, where engineers and other staff can upload and download technical drawings and documents from a central document management system hosted at the head office, as well as send email and access the internet.

Typically, these are brownfield locations, with no existing internet services in place, or where lines have already been removed as part of demolition or changes to site.

While connectivity is not necessarily needed at short notice, the nature of the sites is such that installing new and temporary physical connectivity (requiring fresh engineering work itself to install) is impractical, time consuming and costly.

The length of time these projects run for varies greatly, and the number of projects running simultaneously can be expanded quickly. Connectivity might only be needed for weeks or months, and IT equipment from one site needs to be repurposed quickly for the next project, wherever that may be.

Cellular coverage can be patchy in these locations, and no single 4G provider has complete coverage, or enough bandwidth to support the needs of those using the connectivity on site.

If internet connectivity is interrupted, so may be the project itself, costing money and time.

In addition to the remote site offices, there is a corporate Head Office campus and a logistics & materials treatment facility that form the corporate WAN.

As with many businesses, applications and data are hosted in multiple locations, including on-premise. The self-hosted document management portal that Erith use means the head office needs adequate upload capacity and high availability to serve users across the WAN without interruption.

The solution

For the large number of building sites with temporary offices, a single carrier, single SIM cellular service was not enough.

Evolving Networks aggregate multiple 4G services from different carrier networks together to form a single logical internet connection for every site office cabin.

Each connection provides twice the bandwidth previously available, and smooths out carrier issues, protecting against problems where a single carrier signal is patchy or unreliable.

Users on site can access corporate services in HQ or on the internet, and share files and print data as necessary, without having to struggle through the poor 4G coverage of the past.

Working with Erith, Evolving Networks provide all hardware ready to be mounted in reusable, movable racks, along with the other LAN equipment needed for each temporary site office. This means once a project has completed, the entire rack, along with the Evolving Networks connection equipment (EVX network virtualisation appliances and 4G modems) can be repurposed for the next project, wherever it may be located.

Erith can be operational on the very first day a project starts, by deploying the equipment and connections ready and waiting, already preconfigured and tested.

For the head office and logistics facility, where connectivity supply does not need to be temporary, and the number of users is much greater, multi-gigabit connections with multiple Ethernet leased lines are in place, delivering very high bandwidth with 100% uptime.

The document management system hosted at head office has a step change in bandwidth available, meaning users in all locations have an improved experience.

With resilient data centres in the SD-WAN backbone providing diverse routes to the internet, Erith have a network that makes the best use of available technology in each location, with no single points of failure, and ready for future expansion as the company eyes a move to the cloud.

The methodology

The Evolving Networks engagement methodology for SD-WAN projects involves holding exploratory workshops and collaborative sessions to build a picture of the entire IT infrastructure – not just the network.

Understanding the short, medium and long term aims of the business, and how the IT strategy supports it, is key to building a wide area network that is strong enough and flexible enough for what’s to come. 

Evolving Networks mapped the data flows across the organisation, documenting where users, applications and data reside, and where the pain points in the network could be.

Evolving Networks architects then designed a migration plan that supported Erith through the transition to their new SD-WAN, with specific focus on high bandwidth and redundancy for the offices with hosted applications and data, and quick-to-deploy aggregated 4G customised for site side temporary structures.

Evolving Networks Project Managers designed the roll out to add value early and, crucially, ensure existing contractual commitments at the corporate sites could be met, without the need for expensive termination payments due to the ragged end of existing leased line contracts.

What is now in place across the Erith sites is a network with a flexible foundation, ready for the next phase in IT strategy, which involves moving key applications to cloud hyperscalers.

As that project commences, the Erith SD-WAN backbone can be enhanced, adding dedicated cloud transit to augment the internet transit, so that Erith maximise the benefits of their cloud investments.

The benefits

  • HQ bandwidth greater than 1 Gigabit without an expensive 10 Gigabit bearer
  • Carrier independence – no relying on a single network at any location
  • Improved uptime – 100% SLA
  • No “backup circuits” – all bandwidth available for use

Why Evolving Networks?

Evolving Networks and Erith have built a great relationship, where ideas are shared, and service has been improved with each iteration over time. The SD-WAN technology Evolving Networks has created provides a great fit for Erith, where speed and agility are valued and demanding users need serving with exceptional IT.

By working with Evolving Networks, Erith have a WAN management partner for the long term, turning WAN transformation into an everyday task, rather than once every 3 or 5 years when a contract ends.

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