Communication is key for Sarian
Sarian Systems is a leading manufacturer of wired and wireless communication products for mission critical applications across a wide variety of industries.
Established in 1999, the UK based company exports high-tech solutions to over 40 countries worldwide and with a turnover of £3.8m, it is the UK’s leading manufacturer of IP routers designed specifically for crucial applications.
Based in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, Sarian solutions are sold worldwide to blue-chip companies such as American Express, BP Oil, British Telecom, Ingenico Fortonic, T-Mobile, and other major telecommunications and ATM operators. It specialises in six industry sectors; retail, finance, lottery, telemetry, remote access and broadband backup. Its product portfolio covers both wired technologies including PSTN, ISDN ADSL, and wireless network technologies such as GPRS, EDGE, 3G (UMTS) and HSDPA.
Sales and marketing director Duncan Ellison explains: “We’re a successful high-tech UK company manufacturing state-of-the-art electronics and communications products, particularly wireless devices that work on the mobile networks. We began with the classic start up of three people working around a kitchen table and we’ve grown to around 40 people running a large operation with a significant number of international clients.”
Sarian’s products are used in more than 75 per cent of the UK’s petrol stations, and the company supplies GTech and Scientific Games, which together operate 80 per cent of the worldwide lottery and gaming market. Sarian wireless routers are utilised by organisations such as meteorological institutes, which rely upon remote telemetry, and companies that require a business continuity strategy as the company offers backup to the wired broadband network.
“We focus on specific industries,” says Duncan. “Retail is one of those, and security and surveillance is another, for instance our products are ideal for setting up remote video cameras. Finance and banking is a large market for us and our units can be found in ATM machines operated by Travelex, Bank Machine, CardPoint and others. Telemetry is another big sector for us as our units are perfect for anyone wanting to control something remotely.”
Sarian’s communications devices are essential to the day-to-day running of businesses in situations where any downtime caused by communications problems would result in financial loss and customer dissatisfaction. Sarian routers are operational in lotteries around the world because its wireless technology allows lottery terminals to be deployed virtually anywhere without requiring traditional telephone lines. “Many of our units are used in lottery applications,” confirms Duncan. “We recently won a contract to supply the Swiss lottery with nearly 2000 of our units going to every place that the lottery is played in Switzerland. If our unit doesn’t work then nobody could play the lottery.”
Sarian’s rapid and successful growth has been recognised by the Sunday Times Microsoft Tech Track 100 list, on which Sarian featured in 2006 as one of the fastest growing technology companies in the UK.
More accolades followed at the end of 2006 when Sarian was named Small Business of the Year at the Yorkshire Post Business Awards. Speaking of the company’s achievements, Duncan comments: “Our products are based on the latest mobile technology and this award reflects our position at the cutting edge of the UK mobile phone industry.”
R&D is crucial to the continued success of Sarian and more than half of its employees are employed in this area in order to keep producing innovative solutions and reacting to new demands. The company recently launched its revolutionary DR6000 series. “Just about every company has an internet connection delivered via ADSL or broadband but it’s still delivered over an ordinary phone line,” says Duncan. “If that line is cut then it’ll take between five and seven days to repair so the business could be in serious difficulty,particularly if it is a retailer needing to process credit card transactions because if the broadband line goes down the store might as well close.”
The DR6000 is an ADSL router so it goes on the end of the phone line and provides the ADSL connection along with built in wireless backup using a normal mobile phone SIM card, so if there is a fault it automatically backs up using the mobile network.
Sarian maintains its manufacturing efficiency by commissioning production to be undertaken by contract manufacturers, with the main one being AWS Electronics in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Duncan explains: “We don’t manufacture in-house because our industry is project driven meaning one week we’ll have huge orders and the next week very few. Electronic manufacturing is such that it is not financially efficient to invest in a production line and leave it empty, so we’ve found the best way is to employ a contract manufacturer, who will make the product to our specification. We own the test cell at the factory, which we designed, so the products are tested to our quality control using our equipment.”
Sarian’s success and ever-increasing number of diverse applications have earned Sarian a strong global reputation. “In the UK we don’t really have anyone that we could credibly call a competitor,” says Duncan. “Most competition comes from overseas, generally in the Far East with devices that use software that’s publicly available on the internet or bought from third parties, whereas we don’t take such shortcuts. We design and develop in-house in Yorkshire and manufacture elsewhere in the UK. This was a conscious decision so we have the wherewithal to fix problems easily because we designed them in the first place. This has helped to make us a market leader in the UK and on a global basis we absolutely hold our own.”
In thinking about future goals, Duncan has plans to see Sarian remain profitable in its specialised areas and acquire new customers. “We’ve sustained a growth of around 30-40 per cent compound year-on-year which we’d like to continue long into the future.”
Products: Wired and wireless communication products
Sites: Ilkley, West Yorkshire