31 January, 2023: CASE STUDY by blueAPACHE: Originally established as Madad Pty Ltd in Brisbane in the 1920s, Sealy of Australia has grown to become a leading manufacturer and wholesaler of high-quality mattresses.
The company’s journey with the Sealy brand began in 1969 when its owners travelled to the United States and negotiated to become a licensee of the American company in the Australian market. In 2000, this relationship evolved into a joint venture between the two companies that now underpins Sealy’s operations outside of the US.
Sealy of Australia’s office in Brisbane is the headquarters for a network of offices and 15 manufacturing facilities across Australia, New Zealand, China, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. These facilities enable the company to manufacture close to their customers and offer a premium service level, consistent with the brand.
Across its broad geographic footprint, the company uses a mix of retail partners and Sealy branded stores to allow customers to experience and purchase its products.
The importance of consultative business relationships
Throughout its century-long history, Sealy of Australia has prided itself on the strong links it maintains with its business partners. The company’s management believes that solid, long-term relationships underpin commercial success.
Sealy Chief Information Officer, Phil Moss, says other important factors in good business relationships are the price points involved and the value that each delivers to the company.
“Unfortunately, we found that a telecommunications provider we had been working with for many years was no longer delivering on these three important points,” says Moss. “The technology being used was okay, however the business relationship had reached the stage where we had no choice but to look elsewhere for support.”
After reviewing a range of alternatives and carefully evaluating a shortlist of prospective new partners, a decision was taken in April 2021 to commence a new partnership with blueAPACHE.
“We were very impressed with blueAPACHE from the outset,” says Moss. “They took time to build a firm relationship with us and to understand our particular requirements. They then set about designing a networking infrastructure that met our needs both in Australia and internationally.
“During this period it became clear to us that blueAPACHE had the superior business experience and technical capabilities we needed to make a positive impact to our overall IT operations. The advanced technology mix recommended when combined with the company’s costs and focus on achieving results ensured we would have a winning formula for success from the outset of the deployment.”
“We found that blueAPACHE were also very consultative in their approach. Rather than coming with preconceived ideas of what we should deploy, they instead listened to what we needed and understood the critical role that data networks play within our business.”
Moss says it is also important that the two companies continue to have a strong cultural alignment. This stems from the fact that both are Australian based and have expanded internationally.
“Of all the factors at play, this alignment was key for us,” he says. “The senior management teams within both companies cemented strong relationships. This convinced us that, should any issues arise in the future, we would be able to have them resolved very quickly.”
A staged deployment
Once planning had been completed, blueAPACHE began a staged rollout of the new network. Links were maintained with the legacy infrastructure to ensure there was no disruption to business activity and, if required, voice and data traffic could revert to the old network.
After beginning with the company’s six Australian sites, Sealy worked with blueAPACHE to roll out network links to one site in New Zealand, one in the United Kingdom and ten across the Asia-Pacific region. Following rigorous testing, the completed new network went fully live in April 2022.
Moss says the works were completed during COVID lockdowns which served to complicate the rollouts, however the blueAPACHE team remained focused on the end goal of a fully functional network.
“blueAPACHE was very proactive throughout the deployment and took full ownership of any issues that arose,” he says. “I really liked the honesty exhibited by the team. They worked together as a cohesive whole and offered as much support as we required.”
Critical support for the Sealy brand and customer experiences
As well as supporting Sealy’s office-based staff, the new network is also critical for the company’s manufacturing capabilities. This is because all mattresses are made to order with a lead time of just three days. If the network is down, this promise to customers cannot be met which means the Sealy brand would suffer.
“Each time a mattress is produced, it is scanned and a unique barcoded sticker is printed and affixed to confirm it has successfully passed the company’s rigorous quality assurance processes,” says Moss. “For this to happen, data needs to travel, in real time, between the factory and the company’s headquarters in Australia. If there are any delays in this process it can lead to costly delays and disruption in the factory.
“If you have no data and no sticker, you end up with an unproductive factory, double handling of pieces, and perhaps the wrong pieces delivered. This is a situation we need to avoid at all costs.”
Moss says the network is also vital to other parts of the business. Staff across all locations need to access data and applications while also relying on it to provide voice communication services.
Network links also provide critical support for the company’s back-office functions. Moss says that, while it’s the Sealy brand that gains most attention, those working in the back office are equally important for the company.
“As well as our manufacturing facilities, the network supports core applications such as our ERP system and accounting applications,” he says.
An expanding relationship
As well as being a partner that can manage and maintain Sealy Australia’s voice and data links, Moss says blueAPACHE has also shown it can add value in other ways.
“They keep a close eye on the evolving technology landscape and proactively suggest new approaches and products that could support our business as we continue to grow,” says Moss.
Chris Marshall, Managing Director, blueAPACHE, says the project benefitted from the fact that Sealy was able to leverage blueAPACHE’s existing reference network architecture. This significantly reduced risk as the reference architecture aligns with recognised industry security frameworks.
“The project also benefitted from the fact that we were able to have one team in place that worked across everything from project deployment across the network to client service and cloud layers,” Marshall says..
Moss says he looks forward to a long-term working relationship with blueAPACHE. “I’m confident we now have in place a proactive and trusted partner that will continue to support our operations in the longer term,” he concludes.