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IP calling

Arabian Cement Co “ACC” is a Spanish – Egyptian Joint venture between Cementos La Union (CLU), a leading and independent Spanish cement grinding company located in Valencia, and Egyptian shareholders set up in Egypt to build and operate a 4.2 MT cement plant in Suez.

In 2006 a turnkey contract was signed with a well known multinational engineering company, FLSmidth, to construct a clinker Greenfield factory ready to produce 2.1 MT/year at an investment of $170m. In 2008 the factory further expanded with the start of construction works for a second line, identical to the first, but extending the scope to the production of cement. This second line, will be operational in 2010, and means an additional investment by ACC partners of $240m.

As an expanding multinational, the ACC relies heavily on effective internal communications to generate coordinated and timely business decisions. The global nature of the ACC however presented obstacles to the establishment of an effective communications network as language and distance barriers had to be overcome. Further impeding information exchange and coordination, the company’s Greenfield production plant outside Cairo remained unconnected via telephone ground lines. Sherif Salib, IT Manager for the ACC, recognizes that “increased communications at the management level” are essential in making “timely decisions”, and lack of such, potentially obstructed the ACC’s decision-making functionality.

To bridge the communications problems, FVC’s partner, ARKAN Integrated Solutions employed the use of Polycom’s IP Telephony systems. After an analysis of the situation, a network was established using the Polycom IP330 and IP550 Telephony models operating with a Digium-Asterix IP/PBX communications platform. 120 IP330 models and 20 IP550 were eventually utilized, operating between the ACC’s offices in Spain and multiple locations within Egypt. The system currently has approximately 150 users, but it has the capacity to effectively support close to 400.

By adopting the IP Telephony system the ACC has utilized the internet in amplifying the size and efficacy of their communications system, improving coordination between locations in Europe and the Middle East. The wireless nature of the system has increased the breadth of communications (permitting the inclusion of the Greenfield plant in the network) and, according to IT Manager Sherif Salib, does not prove detrimental to the audio quality of conversations. Mr. Salib states that the quality of sound over the IP Telephones is “very good”, allowing for clear, static free discussions. Having completed the installation in July 2008, ARKAN Integrated Solutions has continued to train the IT staff at ACC in independent maintenance of the system.

The working relationship between the two companies is likely to continue and ARKAN’s CEO, Hussam Fawzy has outlined future plans for the partnership that include regular updates and further increases in the functionality of the system.

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