The Continental group, one of the first tyre manufacturers world-wide, was founded in Hanover in 1871, and is now one of the leading suppliers in the automotive industry with more than 208,000 employees around the world. ContiTrade France, a subsidiary of Continental AG, Division tyres, manages the BestDrive outlets as well as the company fleet of Fleetpartner. A VoIP and UC solution was required to equip 230 French shops under the brand name "BestDrive.
Since 2011, Continental in France has expanded its own sales and service network for tyres by acquiring recognised specialist companies with high expertise. The BestDrive centres were set up early 2015. With almost 2,000 employees, BestDrive is one of the major players in automotive customer service today. The company offers a national service for private customers and provides a network of service centres in many European countries for business customers. It offers 24/7 roadside assistance at regional, national and international levels.
The company group, Vidéocom 2000, is currently installing the innovaphone AG IP telephony and unified communications solution throughout France. Six employees are involved in the implementation of the project. This enabled the installation timeline to be coordinated throughout France. Once completed, almost 2,000 employees will use the new solution. The innovaphone solution has been certified for the management of a central SIP trunk by SFR (French mobile operator), which allows unified management of all calls.
The most important point of the tender was to centralise communications. The tender also underlined the need to limit communication costs and to reduce the costs of internal and external communications. Maintenance costs should also be taken into consideration.
Given the size of the project, the focus was placed on unifying telephony. Christophe Berthier, infrastructure manager at ContiTrade France (BestDrive) underlines the two reasons why the decision to equip the 230 car centres in France fell in favour of the German manufacturer, innovaphone’s VoIP and Unified Communications solution: "Our choice was above all else firstly a matter of responsiveness. In fact, Vidéocom 2000 and innovaphone were very quick handling the tender documents and in obtaining the SIP trunk certification by the operator SFR. It was also a question of cost: the innovaphone VoIP solution includes a fully sophisticated unified communications solution. The solution can be extended at any time, is flexible and works redundantly, and therefore is perfectly suitable for corporate environments with multiple sites, regardless of their size. "In addition, we were able to gain first experiences with a similar innovaphone solution already installed at ContiTrade in Germany."
In order to reduce communication costs and to ensure free communication across sites, Vidéocom 2000 installed an IP-Centrex solution: All connections at every branch, both fixed and mobile, are connected to the central telephone server via an SDSL connection. An IP6010 master gateway was installed in the DATA centre in Roissy. A second IP6010 VoIP gateway was installed at the Continental headquarters and is used as a backup for branch offices. The branch offices are coupled with the central server via an SDSL connection and connected with each branch in an MPLS network. In this context, Benjamin Rollet, project manager at Vidéocom 2000, speaks as follows: "We had to be able to manage and organise the branch offices individually with one single telephone server. Thanks to the innovaphone solution, we were able to create "nodes", comparable with a virtual PBX within the PBX. This architecture allows us to simplify call management in the individual branches. Call management within a branch was also simplified, Boolean objects simplified the wait queue distribution flow, transferring mails from every branch, the control function button etc. However, some unified communications applications remained the same for everyone, for example, the LDAP phone book. The innovaphone technology made this flexibility possible."
The non-proprietary, homogeneous and modular innovaphone solution consists of two IP6010 VoIP gateways, innovaphone IP-phones - 400 IP240, 420 IP222 design phones, 100 IP232 design phones, 500 IP61 mobile DECT devices, 250 IP1202 DECT devices and 240 IP22 analogue adapters. "In such a project, it is not possible", says Benjamin Rollet, "to configure each device ‘by hand’. Therefore, we developed our own provisioning server. This server allows us to automatically configure the subscribers at a branch, as well as the telephone connections, DECT phones, analogue gateways, as well as managing the call paths. During the process, the technician simply removes the units from their packaging and connects them to the network. The phone gets its URL-update via DHCP and automatically retrieves its configuration directly from the provisioning server. As regards maintenance, two clicks is all it takes to carry out an upgrade of the entire installed base. Our constant goal is to standardize the installations in order to to equip a large number of branches within a certain time."
ContiTrade also uses the innovaphone Reporting tool for analysing calls in real time. It allows load peaks to be anticipated and appropriate resources to be provided in due time. The innovaphone unified communications client myPBX software is simple, clear and intuitive. It enables video telephony, collaboration, video conferencing, chat and presence information.
The introduction of the innovaphone solution is being appreciated more and more every day. We only need to allow for half a day to set up the new solution in a branch. This increased work pace, made it necessary to solve the problem of recovering CTI. This was not a native solution by Continental. In cooperation with innovaphone, Continental has developed a solution to the problem via TAPI. The flexibility of the innovaphone system was proven once more.
Overall, centralized management enables maintenance costs to be cut, communication between the offices is free of charge and there are significant savings also concerning France Telecom connection costs. Furthermore, the management of applications is extremely simplified. The first employees who used the new solution, quickly familiarised themselves with the new products. The main aim of the whole project was to find a solution that would cover both branch and user needs. Therefore, a user satisfaction survey is currently underway to adjust the solution to fit those exact needs.
Jean-Philippe Eymard, Directeur de service informatique Continental France Division Commerciale et ContiTrade France draws a very positive conclusion: “This project was essential for Continental/ContiTrade France in order to unify the telephone solution for our 230 French offices and our headquarters. From now on, internal calls are completely free of charge and external calling costs are manageable. Previously, this wasn’t the case with the various billing systems in the individual branches. In addition, the centralized management of the entire telephony also allows us to increase the efficiency of administration and controlling maintenance. The innovaphone Reporting tool enables those responsible in the branch offices to implement a customer-related business approach (missed calls, call forwarding, welcome message, personalized announcements...). Vidéocom 2000 and innovaphone have supported us well in implementing the project and have ensured good technical solutions and professional implementation - and, furthermore, to submit a financial offer that provides return on investment in less than 3 years."