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Henri Essers founded his company in 1928. Since then, H.Essers has grown into one of the largest European players in the transport and logistics sector for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, among others. In the past ten years, H.Essers has experienced rapid growth, in part thanks to a number of strategic takeovers. In addition to the head office in Genk, H.Essers has a second home base in Romania. The company is focused on an asset-based strategy. H.Essers is the owner of the fleet, warehouses and IT systems. This allows the company to maintain optimal control over all strategic processes. Thus, H.Essers is able to rapidly respond to changing customer demands and shifts in the international market. H.Essers differentiates itself in areas such as the support for its activities through IT. The company has an IT department with 80 employees. They are responsible for developing their own systems for warehouse management and transport management. The IT environment of H.Essers – which includes two datacenters of its own – is based on Windows, Citrix and Hyper-V.
The growth of H.Essers has led, over the years, to an extremely heterogeneous situation in terms of telephony, with some 1,200 landlines and an equal number of mobile numbers. The infrastructure relied on telephone switchboards of diverse brands and types, distributed throughout virtually all of the company’s locations in all the different countries. “We decided to switch to IP telephony and at the same time to implement a solution to support smoother collaboration between coworkers,” explains Dominique Cuypers, Telecom Manager at H.Essers. After a market study, the solution they picked was Microsoft Lync, the solution from Microsoft for unified communications. Belgacom offers Microsoft Lync in an global package. The connectivity and functionalities for video and the contact center are inlcuded. “The central management and deep integration with other Microsoft applications – such as Office, SharePoint, Outlook, CRM and System Center – were decisive factors,” continues Wouter Schuurmans, Senior System Engineer at H.Essers. In late 2012 a first pilot plan was carried out in the IT department at H.Essers. In order to ensure good collaboration between Citrix and Lync, the company decided – where necessary – to roll out new thin clients. In this way, the company was able to fully embrace Lync 2013, in combination with a plan for SIP-trunking for some 1,000 telephone lines. “The latter aspect played a role in our choice of Belgacom as project partner,” Cuypers noted. “Belgacom is an expert in telephony, and also in the integration of landlines and mobile phones. What’s more, we use the Explore network and we were happy to expand the relationship with Belgacom.”
For H.Essers the added value of Microsoft Lync lies chiefly in the functionality for presence and videoconferencing. The company has many employees working in different locations. Via Lync they can now instantly see whether their coworkers are available and, if so, through which communication channels. Schuurmans: “The major advantage is in the efficiency of smoother collaboration, also thanks to the integration with Active Directory and SharePoint. In addition, the solution has saved on costs, because there is less need for travel and the time this saves boosts employee productivity.” What’s more, Lync also offers a good basis for teleworking. Employees with on-call duty can also be reached at home and they no longer need to come into the office. In this way, Lync fits perfectly within H.Essers’ strategy to use IT to differentiate itself in the marketplace. But the project does have an impact on the employees’ network and hardware. That’s why H.Essers is investing in IT infrastructure, so that it can later roll out Lync nationwide. After that will follow the sites in the Netherlands and Romania.
H.Essers manages 850,000 m2² warehouse space in addition to a fleet of 1,200 tractive units and 2,300 trailers. The company has over 3,700 employees, spread throughout 32 locations in 11 countries in Western and Eastern Europe. In 2012, H.Essers posted a turnover of 393 million euros.
For more information on Microsoft Lync, visit the Belgacom website or contact your Account Manager.
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