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Expeditors International – Australia

With expectations of continued international growth, Expeditors International, a publicly listed (NASDAQ) global logistics company prepares for future with the installation of a Molex Premise Networks Category 6 cabling infrastructure in their new Banksmeadow facility, Sydney Australia.

This impressive purpose built building combines the warehousing, customer service and administrative facilities satisfying current needs, whilst providing sufficient expansion for the future. At present the two-storey office is about 60% occupied, but will progressively fill as the volume of business grows. „We planned this facility to allow for seamless organic growth. That applies to the building location and size, our materials handling system, our staff accommodation, key services, and our IT system.” States Rachel Mancuso. The challenge for FDC Technologies, the Sydney based network installation company chosen to install Expeditors cabling infrastructure, was to find a system suitable for Expeditors global homogeneous IT system, whilst allowing for future technological growth.

The advantage of the global IT system becomes apparent when one recognises that the business world is very dynamic. „The magazine 'Air Cargo News’ recently referred to our IT system as our „secret weapon” to describe our success in freight forwarding”, explains Maggie McDonald, Australian IT manager for Expeditors. „In our Seattle headquarters we have 260 IT staff committed to maintaining the uniform IT platform that we all use in the 180+ Expeditors facilities around the world. Unlike many of our competitors, who use different computer systems in different offices, we use only one type. We never open an office anywhere in the world until it is 100% computerised, with all the functionality that every other Expeditors office has. That applies to our new office here too. We could take one of our staff from London, drop them in here, and they would be able to carry out their work as if they were still in their London office.”

The cabling specified by Expeditors’ standardised network environment is Category 5e UTP, however with high expected levels of growth, Molex’s PowerCat 6, Category 6 UTP system was used in the new Banksmeadow facility. „We chose the more advanced PowerCat 6, Category 6 cabling platform because of the length of our lease”, points out Maggie McDonald. „Even though our global standard specifies Category 5e cabling, we reasoned that by signing a seven plus seven year lease, we would be here a long time, and computer technology would be moving in leaps and bounds over that time, so Category 6 was a better choice to enable our migration in IT systems. The cost difference between Category 5e and Category 6 cabling was minimal, when factored into the overall cost of our network, so we saw it as a good investment. We managed to get sign-off from our Seattle headquarters, and we assume that they will adopt the same approach soon, seeing the sense in our rationale, and that our IT systems are running perfectly over it.”

With the decision to break from corporate standards and install a Category 6 system „It was important to FDC that during and after completion, Expeditors would be highly satisfied with what they received”, recalls Craig Slorach, General Manager of FDC Technologies. „They were very specific about the level of service they wanted from us in fitting out their facility, working from a rigid Global Corporate IT Standard Operating Environment. We’ve worked under these sort of conditions with other global clients on numerous occasions, so we knew what level of service Expeditors were expecting.”

One thing neither Expeditors nor FDC anticipated however, was a sudden acceleration of the entire fit-out process. FDC Technologies were originally contracted to carry out the cabling installation and commissioning over a six-week period, but due to an unexpected demand for Expeditors to vacate their existing premises, this was cut in half to three weeks. Notification of this shortened installation period came just two days before FDC were to commence cabling the new office and warehousing facility, forcing FDC to completely re-structure its works and logistics plans „I can still recall the phone call from Expeditors telling us we had only three weeks to do the whole installation, and thinking that it was an impossible task, but when I sat down with the team and mapped it all out, we agreed that it could be done in half the scheduled time, if we worked smarter and not harder”, recalls Peter Burns, FDC’s Installations Manager.

Even with these strict time constraints in place FDC were able to install the structured cabling infrastructure to the high standards that are expected of Expeditors’ global IT system. „There was no question in their [Expeditors] mind that we could undertake the project to their expectations. They were impressed by the fact that, even before submitting our proposal, we spent considerable time with them reviewing their requirements for the project. Their confidence in FDC was further reinforced when they saw the detail in our submission. We addressed issues that no one else had brought to their attention; issues such as designing in expansion capability to match their long-term physical expansion program, and the commercial ramifications of Category 6 versus Category 5e cabling. They were also impressed with our track record with other IT projects, which demonstrated that we had the experience and resources to meet their demands and tight construction schedule. The warranty we offered on the cabling system also went a long way in winning Expeditors’ confidence”, states Peter Thomson.

FDC is a Molex Certified installer, which means they were able to offer Expeditors a 25-year warranty on the system that was underwritten by the manufacturer, Molex. That gave Expeditors the peace of mind they were looking for in a data cabling system. Thomson continued, „We had to explain the advantages of Molex certification at first, but once we explained to Expeditors that by installing a Molex Certified cabling system, they were getting a comprehensive warranty on their cabling that covered parts, system performance, and application support, for as long as they would occupy the building. That was good news to them.”

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