Alfa Laval accelerates global growth by using the web to meet hot demand for cooling solutions at lower cost
Alfa Laval, based in Sweden, provides heating and cooling solutions to a variety of industries, including pharmaceutical, life sciences, oil and gas and marine, to name a few. The company has broad geographic coverage, a strong local presence with 12,600 employees worldwide and posted 2010 annual sales of about SEK 24.7 billion (approx. 2.6 billion Euros). Alfa Laval’s website provides a critical window to the market, enabling it connect with its globally dispersed customer base. On average each month, Alfa Laval attracts up to 140,000 visitors to its website, serves 50,000 pages in the virtual showroom alone and supports 12,000–13,000 searches.
While Alfa Laval claims customers in nearly 100 countries around the world and maintains over 24 distinct country sites, Asia accounts for 30% of its business and that impact is rapidly growing. But with its web servers hosted in Sweden, the company found it difficult to ensure optimal website performance for visitors in distant locations. Access from Australia and China was very slow. In fact, visitors to the China site were waiting as long as 80 seconds for the home page to load, and prospects and customers were contacting local Alfa Laval offices to complain. According to Lennart Astrom, CIO & Head of Corporate IT at Alfa Laval, “It was quite embarrassing to be a major player in the market with a slow website. It made people question the company.”
With the World Expo in Shanghai looming, Astrom and his team needed to find a web performance solution quickly. After all, Alfa Laval expected prospective buyers to visit its site once they got to know the company at the exhibition.
Alfa Laval needed to meet three key requirements to support its objectives:
Improve website performance: Alfa Laval wanted all site visitors to have an outstanding web experience, regardless of the visitor’s location.
Reduce bandwidth requirements: Alfa Laval wanted to minimize the costs of content and media delivery.
Drive site visits from remote locations: Because the company’s site plays a critical role in engaging prospects throughout a rather lengthy sales cycle, it wanted to encourage more prospects and customers to visit the site.
Choosing a Proven Managed Service
Alfa Laval considered deploying more data centers and web servers in Asia and the Americas. It also looked at simplifying its site pages for faster downloading. However, neither of these options proved viable. Expanding its infrastructure would have been quite expensive. Moreover, Alfa Laval didn’t even know which localized site to focus on – some people based in Europe and other areas visit the China website because they work for a Chinese company, for example.
According to Stefan Strand, IT Analyst at Alfa Laval, “We would have needed to deploy at least 50 servers in 10–15 locations to improve the situation. Even then, we couldn’t be certain we’d satisfactorily improve performance for all site visitors. And we only had a few weeks to get ready for the World Expo.”
“We had options but they would have required lots of effort and trials and we probably would have wasted time going down the wrong path,” continues Astrom.
Astrom had heard about Akamai through the SKF Group, a company in Sweden that uses Akamai’s website acceleration solutions to reduce download times and improve its global site performance. Within three weeks of first talking to Akamai, Alfa Laval’s site was being delivered across the global Akamai content delivery network (CDN). “Akamai offers packaged services that require minimal effort to implement,” says Astrom.
Dramatically Improving Performance
Alfa Laval saw results immediately upon deploying the Akamai Web Application Accelerator solution. The time to deliver its home page in China was slashed from as many as 80 seconds down to 7–10 seconds on average. Plus, the company was able to serve the same amount of site content using 66% less bandwidth. “When we consider all our options, it seems impossible for us to have achieved the same results in such a cost-effective manner,” explains Astrom.
Taking Advantage of World-Class Support
In addition to the impact of Akamai’s web performance solutions, Alfa Laval was equally impressed with Akamai’s cloud services and support. Explains Strand, “With most companies, you spend lots of time on the phone to fix an issue but must then call back if you experience the same or similar problem. Akamai’s support team takes the time to explain how you can be self-sufficient in resolving issues. I’ve never experienced such professional handling with a vendor.”
Expanding Reach without Restrictions
As Alfa Laval consolidates its operations worldwide, it’s rolling out a growing number of centrally hosted applications that serve a large number of users, both internally and externally. In addition, it will continue to publish new sites to serve prospects and customers around the world. In both cases, it anticipates the benefits of using Akamai’s website acceleration solutions. “We are committed to providing the tools that our prospects, customers, partners, and employees need. Akamai Web Performance Solutions are critical to making sure our sites and applications perform optimally,” concludes Astrom.
About Alfa Laval
Alfa Laval is a leading global provider of specialized products and engineering solutions based on its key technologies of heat transfer, separation and fluid handling. The company’s equipment, systems and services are dedicated to assisting customers in optimizing the performance of their processes. The solutions help them to heat, cool, separate and transport products in industries that produce food and beverages, chemicals and petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, starch, sugar and ethanol. Alfa Laval’s products are also used in power plants, aboard ships, in the mechanical engineering industry, in the mining industry and for wastewater treatment, as well as for comfort climate and refrigeration applications. Alfa Laval’s worldwide organization works closely with customers in nearly 100 countries to help them stay ahead in the global arena. Alfa Laval is listed on the Nordic Exchange, Nordic Large Cap, and, in 2010, posted annual sales of about SEK 24.7 billion (approx. 2.6 billion Euros). The company has 12,600 employees. For more information, visit www.alfalaval.com.