Success Story

Fast and innovative in production, as in IT: Achilles Group implements Fiber To The Office

The Achilles Group counts among the leading paper refiners and manufacturers of high-quality presentation products. The company consistently develops innovative products that inspire the creative minds of the advertising industry. The willingness of the management board to innovate is also shown in the field of IT: The paper refining company applied for the first local microwave transmission link in Germany back in 1996. Since then, all data have been transmitted with wireless technology between two of the three sites in Celle in Lower Saxony over a distance of 4.5 kilometres. Achilles has also demonstrated a keen sense for network cabling and decided at an early stage for optical waveguides. In order to be able to work faster and more efficiently, IT director Franz Bliem and his team now had the chance to completely renew the IT infrastructure. To connect the workplaces, the Achilles Group chose the Fiber To The Office concept from MICROSENS GmbH & Co. KG. The euromicron AG subsidiary convinced with its mature technology, individual consulting and favourable value for money of its products.

The innovation driver of an entire industry
The Achilles Group looks back over a long tradition: Werner Achilles GmbH und Co. KG was founded in 1946 as a "high-gloss foil laminating institution" and today the Group is still run as a family business by Thorsten Drews, the grandson of the founder. The 650 or so employees generated around 60 million euros in sales in the past business year in the three areas of 'Achilles refines', 'Achilles presents' and 'Achilles films'. Besides maintaining high standards, proximity to customers is of crucial importance for the great success in the industry. True to the motto "brought in the morning, done in the evening", the company boasts over 12 sites at home and six subsidiaries abroad. Only permanent investment in technology and innovation enable the high standard to be maintained. Smoothly functioning IT structures are among the core requirements of the modern production operation. There are no compromises made here. In planning a new network infrastructure, the IT department had the chance to build up it up from scratch.

A convincing basis
Putting the existing technology through its paces does not necessarily mean also having to exchange it. Even after 20 years, Franz Bliem is still convinced of the advantages of fiber optic technology: The cables can be laid in a space-saving way, greater distances can be bridged in buildings without difficulties and functionality can be checked directly. Only the direct connection of workplaces according to the "Fiber-to-the-Desk" concept, as originally implemented, had proven to be too expensive in the past few years. Firstly the IT department retrofitted the offices with individual converters in order to circumvent the procurement of FO interface cards. This interim solution was now to be replaced as part of new IT concept. Instead of direct connection of each individual end device via optical fibers, the Achilles Group planned to install micro-switches in the offices. Here the team defined the following requirements:


  • PoE+ functionality, in order to operate Voice-over-IP telephony in the network without additional power connections
  • VLAN functionality to logically separate individual areas from each other
  • 1 Gbps bandwidth
  • Central management functionality for the components


Optimal value for money
The Achilles Group always substantiates pioneering decisions with tenders and selective tests. Several providers submitted offers and demonstrated their performance in on-site tests. The Fiber To The Office (FTTO) concept from MICROSENS fulfilled all of Achilles' requirements, and the company also scored with attractive conditions and direct contact with the manufacturer. Soon the decision was reached to firstly equip a new plant in Celle with the new IT infrastructure using sixth generation micro-switches.

The overall IT migration was planned in detail and started in May with the installation of the new servers and storage systems in parallel with the previous infrastructure. After almost three months, the previous data center was shut down on Friday and the new one put into operation. In parallel, the 60 plus preconfigured micro-switches delivered were installed in the cable duct and all terminal devices connected. On starting work on Monday morning, the employees found a smoothly functioning, fast IT network. Franz Bliem sleeps significantly more soundly since then, as he confesses (laughing): "Our network is now state of the art; it works fast and reliably without having to fear outages caused by outdated technology. The FTTO concept provides us with the leeway to replace or add terminal devices quickly and cost-effectively". Specifically, the first step involves replacing the two existing phone systems. The new phones are also connected directly to the MICROSENS switches and supplied with power through PoE+ functionality.


Transmitting information via fiber optic connections offers numerous benefits. MICROSENS GmbH & Co. KG recognised this very early on. As one of the pioneers, the company has developed and produced high-performance communications and transmission systems in Germany since 1993. Individually matched to the demands of diverse usage areas and embedded in comprehensive concepts for individual sectors. But, above all, close to the customer. Technical challenges from customer projects are incorporated directly into product development. This way, IP-based automation solutions are created for modern buildings, cost-efficient network concepts for the office and workspace, robust and fail-safe solutions for industrial environments, optical transport systems future-oriented wide area networks and efficient coupling of sites and computer centres.