Tech Solutions

Manta controls on managing multiple sites

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Highlights
  • John Karageorgos founded Adelaide-based Manta Controls in 2004 
  • The company develops advanced process controls for plants, primarily in the mining industry, via its advanced Manta Cube plant automation system
  • Manta Controls employs a team of 12 full-time employees plus sub-contractors, who are in the field constantly, servicing the needs of plants around Australia and overseas
  • The business has a ‘virtual office’ based on Telstra technologies for team communication and collaboration, regardless of location 

Manta Controls relies on mobile broadband connections to support its team of plant automation experts – dispersed around Australia and overseas – to work on the go.

John Karageorgos took a leap of faith when he struck out on his own and started Manta Controls 10 years ago. Today Manta Controls has 12 employees, clients all over the world and it’s hoping to open an office in Canada. With clients, employees and contractors all around Australia, a strong mobile service has been crucial for Manta Controls from day one. John wanted to make sure his employees could work as flexibly as possible, given that their business often separated them from their families. “In effect we run like a virtual office,” he says.

Telstra’s BizEssentials plans met the company’s needs perfectly, providing a package of reliable phone and broadband services at its Adelaide administration office, efficiently managed by John’s wife Despina. The administration team look after all the scheduling, parts logistics, flights and accounts for the business, as well as taking calls from customers. For working out and about in the field, everyone in the business has a smartphone and a mobile data plan on the Telstra Mobile Network. “You should be able to work on your own knowing there is a team behind you to back you up,” John adds. 

John Karageorgos

Network coverage and the cloud

Manta’s fleet of 10 Telstra 4G phones and several dongles allow it to take remote project collaboration to a new level and simplify software development. “Our core Manta project server is on the main Telstra static IP connection,” says John. Its central data repository greatly reduces the risks of mistakes and lost productivity. “It’s all safely encrypted, it’s souped up, and because we’re quite pedantic, we back up everything ourselves. We use the internet – and cloud – for hooking everything together.

“If you start sending attachments back and forth, you can get into a mess. If you have a central repository, that’s where the files are – less mistakes. You don’t waste time ringing around to make sure you have the right one,” he explains. “The beauty is we don’t have to sit in the office anymore. We don’t have to be linked up by a network in an office as the cloud links us up,” adds John.  Access via a secure internet connection also allows team members to work on projects when it suits them.

Personalised service

Manta Controls opted for a Max Plan on its Telstra BizEssentials package, with all of the business’s mobile plans added onto the one account. The Max Plan lets team members call other team members on the same account for free within Australia, which helps keep the team on the same page. Also, because everything is managed on one account, cost control is straightforward. The personalised customer service from John’s local Telstra Business Centre suits his style. “You can say ‘this is what we’re after’ and they’ll explain the new products, sort out our bills and so on. That’s a lot better than speaking with someone overseas on the phone,” says John. 

Increased data consumption

Since April 2014, Manta Controls has ramped up its data usage to about 35GB per month of shared data. The business has taken on a shared mobile data plan (now a Go Mobile Plan or Go Business Mobile Broadband Share Plan) to ensure employees do not have to use their home ADSL connections for work purposes. Each of Manta Controls’ 4G phones can be used as hotspots, while John has also acquired a Telstra 4GX Wi-Fi device to create hotspots to allow smartphones, laptops and tablets to connect to the internet during remote training sessions with personnel from multinational clients.

In addition, he has acquired two shared mobile data plans (now Go Business Mobile plans or Mobile Broadband Plans) to provide cost-effective connectivity for analysers reviewing the performance of plant maintenance systems at client sites. 

Insights from Telstra's Director of Business Mobility

“Manta Controls is well set up to operate multiple projects across multiple sites,” notes Mark Chapman, Telstra’s Director of Business Mobility. “In particular, mobile technologies – including 4G smartphones and mobile Wi-Fi devices – help the business deliver on its commitment to be responsive to its customers, partners and team of field workers across Australia.

“We have been with the business since day one, providing advice and technologies that meet Manta Controls’ requirement for strong, reliable connectivity for all team members, whether they are working in the Adelaide head office, at a client’s premises or out in the field.” 

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