2 Sisters Food Group - Case Study

2 Sisters Food Group

"Quality, service delivery and, above all, great tasting food"

Northern Food composite

“The PacketBand solution provided by Lanode has worked great and saved us money. It has allowed us to amalgamate previously separate voice and data networks. Their combined technical expertise quickly sorted out any issues and the clocking works great.” - Chris Heath, 2 Sisters Food Group

Northern Foods (now 2 Sisters Food Group) successfully deployed a TDM over IP solution from Lanode optimising the PacketBand product series from Transition Networks (Patapsco) in October 2008 and have been reaping the benefits ever since....

Northern Foods (now 2 Sisters Food Group) is one of the leading food producers in the UK and Ireland with a well earned reputation for quality, service delivery and, above all, great tasting food. They produce outstanding branded and retailer own brand ready meals, sandwiches and salads, pizza, biscuits and puddings. With revenues of nearly £1 billion, they employ over 9,000 people at sites across the UK and Ireland. They are well known for the quality of their food and their commitment to customer service. They also enjoy a long-standing reputation for innovation and delivering high rate of sale products for their customers.

The Challenge

The scenario was fairly simple and not uncommon. Northern Foods had a Manufacturing base in one location and a Distribution base in another. They talked to each other but not in the most efficient or cost effective way. Data & Voice were handled separately. As shown in the diagram below. Data transfer used an unreliable wireless link whereas voice traffic was routed via a 2Mg mega-stream, which was proving to be expensive. Something had to change.

Northern Foods before schematic



Chris Heath, part of the Information Services group at Northern Foods (now 2 Sisters Food Group) faced two issues which needed to be resolved:

  1. The failure of an attached switch to successfully auto-negotiate correct speed/duplex with their BT EES-10 circuit and this was being indicated by lost packets.
  2. To ensure priority of voice traffic over corporate data in times of congestion, specifically to cater for large traffic movements from 100Mbps to 10Mbps EES.

Both of the above could be addressed by implementing PacketBand from Patapsco as the first device connected to the EES10 circuit.

The Solution

As BT revised their pricing structure Chris replaced the unreliable data link and the expensive 2Mg mega-stream voice link with a 10Mg mega-stream link to carry both data & voice, but with no guaranteed Quality-of-Service (Q-o-S) he knew that he needed specific expertise and support. He turned to Lanode, as the primary contractor and implementation partner, and the PacketBand TDM over IP products from Transition Networks (Patapsco) which are all designed and manufactured in the UK. By effectively terminating the existing EES circuit with the PacketBand product Lanode were able to hard-set the port to 10Mbps Full Duplex and also prioritise voice traffic over data.

One critical issue in implementing TDM over IP is clock recovery and the comprehensive range of highly-featured clock-locked professional TDM over IP products, known as PacketBand, can deliver very high quality clocked E1, T1, V.35 and X.21/V.11 services, and this was an important consideration for Northern Foods (now 2 Sisters Food Group).

There were some issues with clocking but these were all sorted out quickly and in Chris own words “the solution works great and there are other parts of the business that are interested in replicating what's been done”.

The final implemented solution is shown in the diagram below:

Northern Foods after schematic

TDM over IP with PacketBand

The PacketBand range from Lanode & Transition Networks (Patapsco) enables the integration of legacy equipment into modern IP networks. PacketBand allows E1 and serial based devices to communicate over Ethernet / IP networks. Commonly used to inter-connect PBX's together the PacketBand is simple to configure and provides prioritised transport for all types of voice and data applications.

The PacketBand series include the TDM-1, TDM-4 and TDM-3MC which deliver high quality, completely transparent, E1/T1 circuits. The PacketBand-TDM8 is a highly-featured 2U chassis supporting 8 E1/T1 circuits while the PacketBand-TDM32 is a highly-featured 2U chassis supporting 16 or 32 E1/T1 and/or V.35/X.21 circuits. Finally the PacketBand-VX supplies a clear or transparent serial clock-recovered or synchronous “pipe” at speeds to 2.048Mbps across different types of packet networks.

Live Demo of FRM220 Chassis

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