Over the last five years EPX Technical Services has worked with Kingsmead School, on the Wirral, to develop their network infrastructure so that is thoroughly equipped for modern and problem-free usage.
“The original data network had been built and added to in an ad hoc fashion over several years”, explained Dan Ellis, Co-Director and one of the network experts at EPX. “’High-street’ technologies, such as powerline adapters and wireless bridges, had been bolted on as needed.”
This result was an unnecessarily complex network, with a high risk of failure.
“Having a large number of buildings, each requiring a suitable data connection, we were delighted that the school recognised the importance of bringing their system up to date. Over time, with careful planning and implementation, we have created an up-to-date network that is both thoroughly stabile and reliable.”
The school has now been able to take full advantage of the new system. The recent installation of a cutting edge Voice-over IP (VoIP) telephone system has brought a number of significant benefits, crucially, at no extra monthly cost.
The school’s previous phone system, which required cables to be run from every single building back to the central switchboard, was around twenty years old. It was no longer supported, meaning that getting repairs done had become increasingly difficult and expensive.
Having access to the data network in almost all rooms, all over the site, enabled the easy addition of twenty phones, bringing the total on site to fifty. The on-premises PBX (telephone switching system) also enables telephony to be integrated with computer software, such as an Outlook address book or CRM. This means that a person’s contact details can be looked up in the school’s CRM and a call can be made simply by clicking on their phone number, on the computer screen.
Another feature is that the phones can now be used as a paging system, with the loudspeakers in every device acting as a kind of public address system for messages such as “The forecast is for two feet of snow overnight, so the school will be closed tomorrow!”, for example.
The school also has many further options in utilising the data network’s potential. “As we now have the ideal infrastructure, planning for new features, such a campus-wide IP CCTV system, can be done safe in the knowledge that the data network has the capacity and resilience for them.”
In conclusion, Dan Ellis said, “Kingsmead School is a superb example of how planning and investment in a modern network can bring numerous benefits and add value to any organisation.”
Having recently joined EPX as an IT Engineer, Dean comes from a family with a history of working with computers. Although his parents ran an IT company, Dean initially did not want to follow in their professional footsteps until circumstances required him to ‘get technical’.
“My parents had sold their company and moved away. Then, one day, my Internet connection at home wouldn’t work, so I had no choice but to fix it myself”, said Dean. This event sparked a passion for solving IT problems that took him on a journey to developing his expertise, especially in PCs. “Windows 8 and 10 have certainly kept me busy over the last 18 months!”
Dean has a keen eye for maintaining good customer relations and is also experienced in business, having turned round a failing home IT support company. “It was doing three visits a week when I joined and within three months we were doing four visits a day.”
Dean says that there’s always a person behind every computer story. “I feel lucky to be in a job like this. Lots of people are unhappy with their jobs, but I feel very happy doing something I enjoy. For me, it is all about the interaction between people, IT and business.”
Everybody knows that running computers get warm and that is why most of them have fans. Most of the time they are effective in maintaining a suitable working temperature for the electronics inside a computer. However, it is possible for computers to overheat so much that they become a fire hazard. Here are two examples of how you can help prevent that happening to your machines.
While most people know not to use desktop machines as places to store fan-smothering coats, duvets and rugs, for example, the flat surface on the top of a desktop housing can be an attractive and practical place to keep pieces of paper and magazines, etc., especially in busy offices, where computers may be left on for long lengths of time and also unattended.
In certain circumstances, even if the fan is working and the holes in the housing to let air in and out are free from obstruction, PC housings can become hot enough for paper or other flammable materials sat on top of them to catch fire.
Dan Ellis, co-Director at EPX, experienced one example himself. “I once came across an office PC that had had become so hot that the papers on top of it had begun to go brown. I checked to computer’s Task Manager and found that, even though nothing was showing on the screen, it had many instances of the Chrome browser open”, Dan explained. “Flash had crashed and several processes had been running the computer’s processor at full speed for some time. The fan clearly couldn’t work fast enough to keep the housing cool.”
One potential hazard with laptops is that their fans usually face downwards. When placed on a clean, flat, solid surface, such as a desk, ventilation is not an issue. However, these devices are also commonly used in less than ideal conditions, such as by people sitting on sofas or even in their bed. If a laptop is situated on a duvet, blanket or deep pile rug, for example, the fan’s ventilation can easily become blocked, with potential for serious overheating.
EPX’s advice is clear and simple: Avoid leaving any flammable materials, such as paper or clothes, on top of desktop PCs’ housings and take great care to ensure your laptop’s fan is well ventilated at all times.
Having recently celebrated ten years since founding EPX, Directors Dan Ellis and Mark Pennington are always keen to see other entrepreneurs succeed. That is why Dan and Mark are very pleased to be able to share details about what they think is a superb competition from Stafford businessman and EPX customer, Paul Morris of Addmaster.
Paul Morris of Addmaster
“A Staffordshire businessman with a passion for innovation is sponsoring a competition to give like-minded people the chance to get their own bright idea off the ground with free mentoring and 12 months in a fully-furnished business unit. Addmaster (UK) Ltd MD Paul Morris saw a gap in the market for innovative additive technology in 2000 and set up a small office in the Business Information Centre on Staffordshire Technology Park.
Fifteen years on, this Stafford-based business is Europe’s leading producer of performance additives, distributing products from sixteen bases across the globe and has won numerous awards including the Queen’s Award for Enterprise.
Paul explains; “I am extremely proud of what our business has achieved and the first stepping stone was having an office in the Business Innovation Centre. We’re celebrating a record 15th year and now I’d like to give something back.”
“Our success is down to the passion, innovation and spotting opportunities in the market that others don’t see. If you think you have a great business idea, I want to hear from you.”
The competition is open to everyone and the winner will be entitled to:
Free 12 months rental in a fully furnished unit on Staffordshire Technology Park with IMac Computer, free broadband internet and IT support, with a small meeting room, kitchen facilities and free parking
The competition closes on 31st September and the winner will be announced on 12 October.
Entry details are available from the Addmaster (UK) Ltd website.”
Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce runs annual awards for businesses in various categories. This year EPX Directors Mark Pennington and Dan Ellis are delighted to have gained a commendation in the Professional Services category.
“We are really pleased that our entry to the awards met with such approval from the Chambers’ judges”, said Mark, “We feel that our focus on continually developing our customer service and technical skills has been recognised.”
EPX’s entry focussed on its healthy forecasts for growth, both in terms of numbers of employees and winning new business, its divergence into new sectors, such as data logging in the oil, gas and high-voltage electronics industries, as well as its ongoing efforts to monitor and improve internal management processes, such as staff training and monitoring KPIs.
Sara Williams, CEO of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, said, “As Chambers, we know that there are many brilliant businesses in Staffordshire and want to promote their success.”
EPX Directors Mark Pennington and Dan Ellis with the commendation.