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Exclusive interview: Steve Bumphrey, Traka UK

Traka

Steve Bumphrey of Traka UK sits down with Security Journal UK to reflect on what has been a highly successful year.

As UK businesses look towards 2022, in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic it is critical that they continue to operate at maximum efficiency and control their valuable assets. Just as major retail outlets are looking to maximise output of delivery in as little time as possible, it is critical, for example, that prison staff can distribute the necessary medications to inmates. Moreover, with the healthcare sector continuing to recover from significant pressures, it is becoming increasingly crucial to boost productivity whilst enhancing security.

One company that has stepped up to support these sectors as they face major change is Traka. In spite of challenging circumstances, the company has enjoyed a very successful 2021 and continues to adapt its core product offerings to suit the needs of long term and prospective customers alike. A part of the ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions group, the success of Traka over the past 12 months can undoubtedly be attributed to the company’s hard work, flexibility, innovation and collaborative approach to projects.

In light of the growth it has experienced – with notable appointments being made in 2021 to focus on expanding the company’s position in the retail sector specifically – Security Journal UK spoke exclusively with Traka UK’s Managing Director, Steve Bumphrey, to discuss the company’s recent innovations, awards successes and how it has changed product offerings to suit the needs of its customers.

Leading by example

Traka’s key aim is to increase its market share across the UK and the wider global industry by bringing innovation to its customers. To keep one step ahead, the company keeps an ear to the ground to make sure they are always in tune to the pains and problems that its customers can potentially be facing. Not only does such an approach allow for customers to feel connected with the services the company provides, but as a result Traka is able to develop its hardware and software in line with market trends and requirements. Bumphrey explains: “We try and lead from the front instead of simply following from behind.

“In doing so, we are trying to increase our global footprint by providing our customers with top class solutions to help solve their problems. When you look at the retail and distribution sectors specifically, they talk a different language; it is all about getting Traka specialists to learn these languages and also understand the sector and its trends so that they are fully knowledgeable. As a result, emerging markets have and continue to be a major interest to Traka.

“We offer two ranges of solutions primarily. One of these is an intelligent locker solution that manages assets and equipment and the other is for the management of keys. It is the way that we deploy these solutions in different sectors that makes them unique.”

Bumphrey continues: “For example, in the rail sector they are very big on health and safety so a lock-out, tag-out system is in place. If you have a train on the track and they are working on the high voltage, you do not want someone to turn the line on as it could kill someone – you can therefore put a key pairing situation in place which sees that if one key is out of the system, you cannot take another key out. When creating retail solutions on the other hand, it is all about ensuring that only the right people have the right key at the right time. You do not want someone to take a key to a lift which is out of action.

“One of the new features we have is reason logging. You can setup a key cabinet for a contractor to arrive and collect a set of keys, but he has to then type into the screen the exact reason he is there to collect the keys. We are always innovating our products and moving forward with customer demand. We are very big on tailoring our services to the voice of our customers. We have regular sessions throughout the year where we invite customers big and small to discuss features they would like to see.”

Not only do the company’s specialists create tailored experiences for customers, but Traka’s solutions are unique as they are not sold out of the box. Bumphrey reveals: “We really try to go into sector specifics. In the UK, we have sector specialists that look after retail, healthcare, prisons, distribution and utilities. We really try to ensure we are getting the full picture of our customers’ pain points.

“What makes our solutions intelligent is not just the hardware, but the software behind these solutions allows us to turn different features on and off depending on the application. There is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach at Traka – everything is tailored. We are not just going to customers with a numbers game approach, but instead we are collaborating to create effective and tailored solutions to ease pain points. We are all about partnership and working together for the long-term.”

Working with major technology and integration partners Traka’s flexible solutions allow for easy management procedure when assigning permissions. Bumphrey discusses: “The idea is that someone can sit there and manage the Traka product or the access control solution on one platform rather than going to two separate screens. In doing so, if someone is to leave the business, you can remove their permissions for certain keys. We also work with the likes of Lenel, Genetec and AMAG to make Traka seamlessly integrate with their technologies and, likewise, for their technologies to seamlessly integrate with Traka’s.”

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Flexibility in the face of adversity

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, some of the major concerns surrounding transmission were connected to whether the virus could survive on surfaces such as keypads. In light of such concerns, Traka received requests from clients that wanted to temporarily switch physical biometric components/readers for pin code access. Despite not being the most secure solution, in the short term, this hardware switch helped create a more COVID-19-safe access environment.

“We had many companies we work with wanting to do away with biometric access,” clarifies Bumphrey. “Rather than users putting their finger on a reader to take out a key, they wanted pin numbers. As a result, we disabled biometric readings for six months for one of our major banking clients. They have now moved back to biometrics now they feel more comfortable and have implemented more efficient cleaning protocols. As you can imagine, whilst pins are not as safe as fingerprint biometrics, they were a default way of operating during the uncertainty of COVID-19.”

In addition to recognising their success in banking, from a custodial perspective, Traka’s Medication Distribution Lockers – created in partnership with Unilink, Serco and Practice Plus Group (formerly Care UK) – also won two national awards in the prominent Patient Experience Network (PEN) Best Practice Awards 2021. The lockers themselves are designed for prison workers to encourage inmates to take greater responsibility for their medical requirements.

Further recognition for Traka came when the company was also nominated for three different categories; highlighted for innovation and its solving of issues related to medical equipment in prisons, going forward, the company has also been able to highlight how to take the prison sector forward in terms of rehabilitation. Traka was presented awards in the ‘Partnership Working to Improve the Experience’ category and the ‘Using Insight for Improvement to Improve Inequality of Care or Access to Services’.

Bumphrey described what it meant to Traka to win these awards: “The award success means a lot to Traka. We work very hard behind the scenes to create all these new solutions and to be given an outstanding performance award in the prisons sector makes us feel proud that we have done something for everyone involved. It also means that because we have added value and done a great job, we can apply this functionality to other sectors as well.”

Bumphrey expands: “70% of the UK prison population are on some form of medication. This was a huge problem area for the sector, particularly when considering the potential for unhappiness. We worked hard and really effectively in partnership with Unilink, Serco and Practice Plus Group to have this work recognised and the reward is fantastic.”

Increasing productivity and security

In terms of the sectors that Traka is focussing on, distribution, retail and prisons are the priority. With many media outlets reporting that in the build up to Christmas there may be product shortages, it is important that Traka looks at how they can resolve issues surrounding distribution. The whitepapers that the company has published not only open up discussions, but they allow sectors to provide feedback and questions which Traka can then implement into its strategies going forward.

“Thinking from a distribution centre perspective, it is four minutes to first pick,” Bumphrey adds. “If you imagine that 100 people come on shift at the same time, and it takes them 12 minutes to collect their assets and scanning gun before they can get to work, it could potentially be 100 x 12 minutes of work they are losing. If you think of these time savings on a much larger scale, the benefits we can bring are huge.

“Distribution centres are becoming the main focus for the UK now as everybody shops online; up and down the motorways this is evident. With the rise in online retail – whilst we are still on the high street working with companies such as John Lewis and Tesco – we are also behind the scenes with emerging online retailers that need our solutions to fulfil requirements. What we also identified during the pandemic is that the healthcare sector needs support to understand what solutions are out there to help patients. Next year, we are focussing on adding more resources to the healthcare sector.”

With much to look forward to in the coming months for Traka, the company will be looking to use the momentum from their awards success to continue its expansion into new sectors. For Bumphrey and the whole team, it is evident that the connection they have to their customers has helped them build a strong reputation amongst the industry.

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To find out more information about the work Traka is doing, visit: https://www.traka.com/en/site/traka/

This article was originally published in the November edition of Security Journal UK. To get your FREE digital copy, visit: digital.securityjournaluk.com