Porterbrook Leasing – Enhancing Trains without Travel

Train in motion with blur

Porterbrook Leasing Company specialises in the leasing of trains and associated equipment to ensure that freight and train operators have access to modern rolling stock and can be assured of high standards of reliability and performance from their fleets whilst passengers benefit from comfortable services and the latest technology.

Porterbrook’s aims include investing in new trains for the UK rail industry, improving reliability, availability, maintainability and safety characteristics, and working closely with freight operators, train operators and suppliers to identify further opportunities and improvements for the future of UK rail.

The Challenge and Solution

In September 2017, Porterbrook Leasing got in touch with VideoCentric when acquiring a new office in London to discuss the possibilities and solutions available for linking the new location to their head office in Derby via high-quality video conferencing equipment. Porterbrook already utilised a Cisco phone system and was looking to both extend Video Communications into the new location but also upgrade and retro-fit the existing video & AV equipment located in the head office. 

Through discussions between specialist Ian Pickford of VideoCentric and Andrew Swingewood, Head of IT at Porterbrook, it was found that a solution was needed that would:

  • Reduce travel between London & Derby
  • Enable the project teams to collaborate more effectively
  • Enable share holder meetings to be held with remote shareholders 
  • Incorporate whiteboarding & two way collaboration tools for engineering meetings 
  • Enable presentations from laptops to large screens within meetings, with a better and neater way for users and guests to share content from their devices 
  • Ensure quality aesthetics in all of the meeting rooms

After thorough research, demonstrations and trials, VideoCentric and Porterbrook selected Cisco Spark (now Cisco WebEx Teams) as a platform of choice. This would provide a simple-to-use collaboration solution for video, audio and data, connected Cisco endpoints and whiteboarding/real-time annotation technology via the Cisco WebEx Teams Board for London and Derby, plus a range of user and administration features for desktop & mobile users, reporting & statistics, and improved communications.

“Everyone loves how easy it is! Although for important meetings, someone is always there before it starts to check – which is due to past poor experiences – IT is just not needed for facilitating and supporting a meeting anymore.”

– Andrew Swingewood, Head of IT, Porterbrook Leasing

For Video Conferencing within the meeting rooms, VideoCentric integrated Cisco WebEx Room Kit Plus and SX80 Video Conferencing solutions, alongside a SpeakerTrack camera solution within the new London boardroom, and recessed AV technology into walls. Design & integration work was especially tricky in Derby, as technology hadn’t been considered during the original room designs, however the new London offices were more considered for Video and following the installation, users and board members were extremely happy with how all the rooms looked and how tidy & aesthetically pleasing the spaces were after the work was completed. 

“The install was great. The quality, the people & the professionalism – we’re very happy with the result”

Usage and Outcomes

Andrew commented, “The rooms begun being used a lot from day 1. With split teams between the two sites, London engineers would use the WebEx Board room with the Derby engineers a lot to discuss and collaborate on engineering projects – things like implementing Wifi upgrades to existing trains or new components needed for safety, with heavy use of screen sharing and a small but growing use of the remote annotation and drawing features.

Our London guy had some company strategy work to carry out and was tasked to work with all the teams – he was extremely pleased with how natural it was to talk to everyone.”

Andrew also mentioned that due to the solution being so simple, it was effectively self-service. “All that was needed was staff-engagement, and so I arranged one week of “this is how you can use it” and that was all that was needed to get staff onboard.”

It is however found that the SpeakerTrack solution has received a mixed reaction from users at Porterbrook – something often seen with those who have been used to a fixed camera view in the past. Andrew commented, “Many people tend to prefer the single camera view rather than speaker track during video meetings, as they appreciate seeing all members of the meeting to better understand reactions.”

Whilst there were a few teething issues with a Cisco device connecting to a display, a software update was swiftly installed remotely and the support received from VideoCentric on any issues has been highly complemented.

“Your support engineer, Pete, does everything he can possible to fix manufacturing faults or problems with Cisco. VideoCentric are very flexible and we have a good relationship.”

Next Steps – Fix The Biggest Complaint…

Following the success of the video deployment in Derby & London, users are happily using the new technology across Porterbrook. Andrew added, “The biggest complaint I am receiving is why the facility doesn’t exist in the Lord Nelson meeting room in Derby!” Since the initial installation, VideoCentric have now ensured this “complaint” has been fixed – a new WebEx Room Kit has been installed and is now in use in the Nelson room!

VideoCentric are also working with Porterbrook to help improve audio for laptop users, and the company tends to use all scheduled meetings at the moment, so encouragement of the benefits of ad-hoc conferencing for casual conversations will enable further savings and benefits to be realised. 

“We are extremely happy with the solution in place, how well our needs have been addressed and all the work and support we have had from VideoCentric. This is definitely one of the better contractual relationships we have had.”

To find out more about the solution in place at Porterbrook or to discuss how remote collaboration solutions could work to connect your distant offices, please contact VideoCentric today.



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