Holcim innovates in cement production and connectivity

Published on 13/12/2023 in Customer talks

How can we move towards an intelligent, secure, and high-performance multisite network while integrating new communication tools? Olivier Thiebaut of Holcim is opting for simplicity with SD-WAN from Cisco Meraki and cloud calling from Webex.

Holcim innovates in cement production and connectivity

23 hyperconnected production sites

If we ever think about cement, concrete, or aggregates, we don’t necessarily think of the leverage that technology can offer. At Holcim Belgique, a member of the Holcim Group and a leader in innovative and sustainable construction solutions, connectivity is the new cornerstone of productivity. “Even though our business is very operational, both digitalization and dematerialization remain priorities. As a sustainable market actor, our 23 production sites are hyperconnected for the purpose of becoming 3.0 factories,” Olivier Thiebaut, Network & Telecommunications Administrator, says. “Proximus NXT is helping us migrate our network and telephony to the cloud.”

Outdated capacity and market benchmark

Ageing connectivity (2Mb leased lines) and routers close to retirement made up the unstable infrastructure that Olivier Thiebaut had to work with daily. But that used to be different. “We had reached the limit of our technological capabilities. We urgently needed to change our approach. Before making any investments, I did a lot of research. I felt that the answer lay in technologies that had not yet proved their worth. I benchmarked around ten solutions as soon as I could. Proximus NXT’s offer clearly stood out from the crowd.”

The duo: SD-WAN Cisco Meraki and Cisco Webex Calling

For Holcim Belgium, the classic 2000s network is a thing of the past. The multisite infrastructure has now been migrated to Cisco Meraki’s SD-WAN solution (Software-Defined Wide Area Network). This means fluid optimization for distributing traffic to the Internet, cloud applications, and the intranet. Always selecting the best possible routing. “On the back of this seamless experience, we recently began migrating our traditional telephony to a cloud solution using Cisco Webex. The pilot project for two sites has been very successful. We can now migrate all of our sites,” the IT manager says.

Intelligent network and unrivaled performance

Cisco SD-WAN powered by Meraki is exactly what Olivier Thiebaut always wanted, simplified centralized management that significantly improves network performance, security, and user experience, while at the same time reducing operating costs. “I now realize that I used to operate blind. There are no longer any network outages, connectivity is stable, and people no longer phone me to complain. These days when people contact me, it’s to connect a new machine to the network: pure added value.”

Resilient connectivity ready for the future

Access to the future-proof quality that comes from having a single partner for a unified solution was a crucial criterion for Olivier Thiebaut when doing his research. Avoiding a multiplicity of tools and contacts seems logical… “But above all, to be able to easily integrate new components, create resilient connectivity and control traffic. Proximus NXT and Cisco were able to be creative and still respect our group constraints. My network is now autonomous and I can devote myself to innovating within the organization.”

New network in continuous operation

Olivier Thiebaut remembers the many calls he received from sites. There was at least one major network outage every week. This is now a thing of the past, thanks to the redundancy of the infrastructure. “We’re delighted to be able to count on production continuity at all our sites. The bandwidth speeds today allow the development of new tools based on SaaS and cloud technologies. That means I can monitor the performance of critical applications on the 23 sites, wherever I am.”

From traditional telephony to intelligent telephony

Holcim’s new connectivity means that they can integrate a cloud telephony solution too. But there is more: “Webex Calling offers us a complete suite in the cloud: calls, messages, meetings, team collaboration, and integrated Cisco peripherals. Another valuable piece of advice I got from Proximus NXT was a professional telephone service designed to grow with our business. I’m delighted to be able to make everyone’s work easier thanks to the mobile flexibility of the solution. That is a must in our business,” Olivier Thiebaut concludes.

Discover how Holcim Belgium is transforming cement production with Cisco Meraki's SD-WAN and Webex cloud calling. 23 hyper-connected sites progressing towards innovative and sustainable collaboration and communication.

Olivier Thiebaut’s three pieces of advice

  • Analyze the network solution in place and list the main vulnerabilities.
  • Study the solutions on the market and carry out extensive testing.
  • Choose a single partner for your new infrastructure.

About Holcim Belgium

  • Innovative and sustainable construction solutions
  • Member of the Holcim Group
  • 900 employees
  • 23 sites
  • Latest Proximus NXT project: migration to the Cisco Meraki SD-WAN solution and from voice to Cisco Webex


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