Howdens Joinery gets furnished with Tensor Access Control and Fire Roll Call

TEN-CASE- Howdens

Howdens Joinery is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of kitchens and joinery products. They have over 520 depots supplying over 350,000 complete kitchen sets each year, and employ around 6,300 staff.

The company targets just the trade segment, simply because it believes that, in order for the kitchen to “look like it does in the catalogue, you need an experienced professional to put it in.” All of their cabinets are produced locally, in either the Runcorn, Cheshire or Howden, East Yorkshire manufacturing facilities, while the trees used for the chipboard are also sourced from the UK.

Steve Amery, Service Delivery Operations Manager, Information Services Dept., recalls that Howdens Joinery decided to adopt Tensor access control systems on a wider scale around 5 years ago, following a partnership with MFI Furniture Centres. The latter company went out of business, with Howdens getting some of their buildings, already fitted with Tensor access control systems.

When asked about the reasons why Howdens decided to continue and expand its relationship with Tensor, Steve told our reporter that it was “an established product that worked really well. Plus, it was already there, installed in some of our locations, and working fine, so we decided to extend it rather than replace it”.

Right now, the Access Enterprise system with Fire Roll Call is installed across 11 central Howdens Joinery locations. Moreover, “we’re a successful business and we’re rapidly expanding. We plan to add Tensor Access Control systems in 12 further locations in the near future”, Mr. Amery commented.

The Tensor systems were initially installed by a small 3’rd party partner. However, as the Howdens business expanded and its requirements grew, there was a real need to go to the next level, so the management decided to get Tensor directly involved in the installation process, given the superior “experience, size and level of support” provided.

There weren’t any significant problems during either the hardware or the software installation processes, although Mr. Amery recalls an instance when some new “32-bit clocks really messed-up the Fire Roll Call system across multiple sites”, but that issue was ultimately solved as well.

Steve attended a 2-day training session on using the Access Enterprise system at Tensor’s Hail Weston training facility, and describes the process as “generally good”. He really appreciated the trainer’s expertise, though, describing him as “very good, adaptable and flexible, with a very good knowledge of the software’s in-depth settings.”

Due to their specific line of business, that involves extensive wood processing and storage, Howdens Joinery takes fire hazard very seriously. For this reason, the Fire Roll Call feature provided by Tensor Access Enterprise is used extensively throughout the organization.

“We do Fire Roll Call test drills on a regular basis at each of our sites. Occasionally, we also trigger fake alarms at some of our sites, picked at random, in order to evaluate the staff’s response and the system’s efficiency in an emergency situation.” Mr. Amery told our reporter. Luckily, no real-life fire-related incidents occurred thus far, although the system has been triggered a few times, from various other causes.

Steve is also particularly happy with “the new, faster Brother printers included in the Fire Roll Call package, as they can print out a lot faster the lists of employees found on site.”

The Tensor Fire Roll Call software automatically generates a report in case of an emergency, containing critical information regarding who is on site at any given moment. Most importantly, unlike most other systems, the Fire Roll Call function is executed directly from the clocking stations, not requiring access to a PC or computer infrastructure, that might be affected by fire, explosions, etc.

In order for the system to work properly, employees must log themselves on and off the site using smart cards and smart key fobs. In case of an emergency, they can check their presence at the pre-determined fire assembly points, either using the cards or fobs, or by simply being checked off the printed list.

Due to the sheer size of Howdens Joinery and the number of Tensor systems installed across the company’s multiple sites, Steve called the Tensor Operations Department a few times, to solve various functionality issues. When asked by our reporter to comment on the quality of the service, Mr. Amery said that “the front line guys were very, very good”, adding that they also displayed “good technical abilities.”

Mr. Amery called in the Tensor Help Desk on a couple of occasions, but he received the necessary help each and every time.

When asked by our reporter whether he would recommend Tensor to other companies, Mr. Amery answered: “Yes, I would recommend it.”.

As for his overall experience with Tensor, Mr. Amery concluded that “The Tensor system, as a technological product, is very good. It’s modular, very reliable, easy to use and will adapt to the customer’s needs.”

Customer details

Howdens Joinery Ltd

First Floor

40 Portman Square




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