Just like a well-oiled machine, the logistics industry can achieve remarkable things when every link in the chain is perfectly aligned. Spanish company, ESBO Logistics, is the well-oiled machine behind household brands such as IKEA, Puma, FC Barcelona, Nutrition & Santé, and others. It manages more than 65,000m2 of storage across two sites and was one of the first operators to adopt automated warehouse technologies, such as retrieval robots.
While the company has logistics covered, it needed to refresh its networking solution to meet growing demand in a complex physical environment. It turned to long-term partner, Datacom.Global, to roll out a suite of Cisco technologies.
We spoke to Pere Valero, CEO at Datacom.Global, to find out how it helped ESBO Logistics future proof and secure its network, improve collaboration, and process 6000 orders a day using robots.
Before we talk about technology, set the scene for us. What’s changing in the world of logistics, and how was it impacting ESBO Logistics?
The rise of E-commerce and the surging volume of online orders means many logistics companies are under increasing pressure to deliver more goods quickly. ESBO Logistics wanted to embrace the latest technologies around automation, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to streamline warehouse management and distribution and deliver better value to customers.
To do that, it needs a scalable, reliable network, great collaboration between teams across multiple sites, and solutions that integrate well with other technologies. The Director of People, Quality, and Compliance at ESBO Logistics, Joan Gormedino says: “We have an obligation to ensure our systems are secure and don’t fail at any time. We are very aware that our work is vital for our customers’ businesses. We cannot afford for it to stop, which is why we are working with Meraki and Datacom.”
Datacom.Global has been a trusted partner of ESBO Logistics for more than 10 years. What challenges did it need to overcome to modernize its environment?
We needed to overhaul the network infrastructure supporting operations, warehouses, and offices. It wanted to expand its use of robotics and smart sensors, which need fast, uninterrupted access to Wi-Fi in every corner of the warehouse.
That was difficult for ESBO Logistics to achieve because of the size and layout of its premises. To optimize space, it has vertical, 3D warehouses with 11-meter-high metal racks holding 60,000 storage units. These need to be close together so robots can access every container – that amounts to 250,000 locations to search and 65,000m2 of warehouse space – but metal frames can block the Wi-Fi signal.
We pride ourselves on offering flexible storage solutions, which means it needs to invest in the right technologies to support different customer needs. Its environment includes storage for materials that need to be refrigerated, which added another layer of complexity.
Your first step was to size the infrastructure and conduct coverage reports to determine the company’s needs. Talk us through what you discovered and the Cisco technologies implemented.
We needed a redundant infrastructure connecting its headquarters to two warehouses. We mapped the environment into zones depending on user density to assess Wi-Fi needs. Handheld scanning devices and IoT sensors also needed to be connected, and access to the internet and applications needed to be both secure and high performing.
We implemented a full stack networking solution with new switches from Cisco Meraki and upgraded to Wi-Fi 6 to achieve seamless connectivity, boost application performance, and eliminate downtime. We integrated the ESBO Logistics warehouse management system, CRM, and robotics software.
We are using Cisco SD-WAN and the SASE suite to secure the network. Cisco Umbrella provides first-line defence and means any devices connected to the enterprise network or remotely will comply with security policies. Cisco Email Security offers advanced protection against cyber-attacks.
The environment is managed from the Cisco Meraki control panel, which creates a single view of the network that can be controlled from the cloud. Now, one IT administrator can manage the entire network, and the solution automatically monitors all sites, devices, and users.
The network wasn’t the only challenge ESBO Logistics wanted to address. How did you improve collaboration?
We needed a better collaboration tool for hybrid workers on the sales and operations team. Although that’s only 15 percent of the total workforce, 90 percent of them are managers who move between the three sites daily. These people need to be reachable 100 percent of the time, so we rolled out Cisco Webex Calling for office-based telephony, while the app provides smart phone access.
In the warehouse, we use Cisco Wi-Fi telephony and meeting rooms are equipped with Cisco devices. These work well with other workplace technologies, such as Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and Zoom – which gives our customers the same wonderful experience however they want to connect, while staff can use one messaging platform. They can also use the setup to collaborate in-house, so communication has improved for everyone, and Cisco encryption keeps it secure.
What are the biggest benefits ESBO Logistics has seen since the network refresh?
Gormedino: “The business is more agile and efficient. Better security has reduced risks and made it easier to comply with regulations. The whole environment is also more sustainable and scalable. We can now adapt quickly to changing requirements and are embracing robotics.
“The network is also much faster and there aren’t any areas with poor connectivity, which means we can explore intelligent spaces by using IoT sensors. All these things mean the business is better equipped to grow and accelerate strategic initiatives.
“On the technology side, the Cisco solutions are both powerful and simple to manage. They deliver flexible network configuration, which is vital for any growing company. As well as providing high quality access for applications and sensors, the network hasn’t experienced any downtime. That, in combination with robotics, means the company can operate 24/7 and automate tasks such as fetching stock to prepare orders.”
Gormedino states that because of resource optimization, the company is meeting Service Level Agreements (SLAs) more accurately, managing 6000 orders a day, and has reduced the amount of physical space required by 50 percent. ESBO Logistics has also saved 70 percent of its energy usage.
What’s next for ESBO Logistics and Cisco?
“The future looks bright, we have trust in Datacom.Global and Cisco technology,” says Gormedino.
“We’re currently testing other Cisco Meraki components, such as cameras to improve warehouse security and automate more processes. We’re looking at Meraki smart sensors to monitor temperature changes, detect leaks, and check the air quality in its controlled environment. Anything we choose to implement can be controlled from the same management dashboard as the existing solutions.”
“Better security has reduced risks and made it easier to comply with regulations. The whole environment is also more sustainable and scalable. We can now adapt quickly to changing requirements and are embracing robotics.”
– Joan Gormedino, Director of People, Quality, and Compliance, ESBO Logistics