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Network / IP - Case Studies

Robinsons Brewery switches to Grosvenor Technology’s IP Network solution
Advance Security recommended the JANUS access control system from Grosvenor
 Robinson's Brewery turned to Grosvenor Technology for a state-of-the-art IP Network solution

When independent family brewer Robinsons could no longer get support or spare parts for their sitewide access control system, they turned to Grosvenor Technology for good old fashioned customer service and a state-of-the-art IP Network solution.

Robinsons' Unicorn Brewery in Stockport takes its name from the Unicorn Inn which was bought by William Robinson in 1838. This stood on what is now the bottom yard in Lower Hillgate, Stockport. William was joined in 1865 by his younger son Frederic, who started to brew beer for other local hostelries. In 1876, shortly after his father's death, he bought his first public house The Royal Scot, Marple Bridge (then The Railway Inn).

Family Brewing

By 1878 when Frederic's son William, aged 14, joined him, he owned two licensed houses and a horse and dray to deliver his beer. When Frederic died in 1890 he owned 12 public houses. The business then passed to his widow Emma who in 1920 relinquished sole control, with the formation of a limited Company with William as chairman. His three sons joined the board in 1926.

By the early 1950's the brewery started to develop keg beer and as the existing bottling arrangements become inadequate they built a new bottling plant on their land at nearby Bredbury, which opened in 1975. Phased development of the Bredbury site continued and now, after fermentation at the Unicorn Brewery is complete; all beers are transferred to Bredbury for packaging and distribution.

During the 1990's and early 2000's members of the sixth generation of the family joined the business, ensuring that production, marketing and sales of the beers will remain in Robinson family hands for many years to come.


As a brewer, Robinsons faces a unique set of security challenges, as Des Collins, Robinsons' Health, Safety and Security Advisor explains:

"We need traditional security measures, such as physical perimeter security, CCTV and access control to prevent illegal access to our sites. However, we also need to restrict staff access to certain areas of the business, such as plant and IT equipment rooms and warehousing, where high-value goods such as spirits are stored. We also have a bonded warehouse, which clearly needs to be secure and access closely monitored."

 Robinsons Brewery required traditional security measures such as physical perimeter security, CCTV and access control
Grosvenor's JANUS system allows Robinsons to upgrade to proximity readers from the current swipe cards

The existing access control system is used across both sites and is rapidly becoming obsolete as it becomes increasingly difficult to get support and spare parts from the original supplier. With the assistance of their electrical contractors Piggott & Whitfield, Robinsons approached Advance Security UK Ltd to help update the system.

Dave Lock from Advance Security made the original contact with Robinsons and said, "It soon became apparent that they needed a flexible networked access control solution to replace their existing legacy technology. It was at this point that we recommended the JANUS access control system from Grosvenor."

Customer Service

Before they could even start the upgrade, the original system failed and Robinsons had problems with newly supplied cards. "We had a batch of cards from our existing supplier that was delivered without the magnetic strip being formatted. When we couldn't get a response from the suppliers Grosvenor stepped in and designed an encoder that allowed us to program the cards ourselves, saving us time and money. Advance also made some temporary repairs to the system to keep us going during the upgrade - all free of charge. Robinsons is a family run business with strong customer service values. It was therefore great to see the same ethos shown by Advance and Grosvenor", added Des.

Phased Installation

A phased approached has been adopted that allows the system to be upgraded with minimum disruption and to accommodate available budgets. Using the JANUS system also allows Robinsons to upgrade to proximity readers from the existing swipe card readers. Dual function HID proximity cards that include the magstripe technology, work on both systems and are being used to ensure a seamless and uninterrupted migration. Currently there are 45 readers at the Unicorn brewery and 60 at the Bredbury packaging site. The other benefit is that the latest proximity card readers are much less expensive to purchase than the original magstripe readers. Users with a single card can gain access to any entry point no matter which system is currently interfaced to the reader.

Robinsons has realised additional savings by using Grosvenor's Ethernet version of their Intelligent Door Control (IDC). These are installed directly onto the brewer's existing LAN without the need for extensive new wiring. Each IDC can control two doors/locks and interface to a wide range of industry standard card readers and lock mechanisms. Operational resilience and redundancy is built into the JANUS solution and is very important to ensure uninterrupted access to the buildings even during equipment or network failures. Every card profile associated with a specific IDC is downloaded to the controller to ensure continued operation in the event of a network or power failure.

The IDC installation is so straight forward that Robinsons own electrical team install each new batch of IDCs, with Advance doing the software commissioning. The transfer from old to new technology is seamless, with very little downtime for each access point.

Des continues, "In fact we have found the flexibility of the IDC so good and cost effective, that we have extended our access control system to cover some new doors. We certainly wouldn't have tried to do that with the existing system."

Robinsons has realised additional savings by using Grosvenor's Ethernet version of their Intelligent Door Control (IDC)

The site is still being protected by both systems, with the migration continuing as and when internal resources become available. Once the Unicorn Brewery is complete, the Bredbury site will be next. However, because they are using Ethernet IDCs, there is no need to install the main JANUS server software at any remote site. Readers installed at Bredbury will be connected to the main system at the Unicorn Brewery using the company's WAN. The new remote readers will simply be an extension of the existing system. Robinsons are building a new maintenance and distribution centre at Backbarrow, Cumbria which is due for completion late 2011. JANUS will be installed, again just using remote IDCs connected over the WAN. This demonstrates the flexibility of IP networked access control.

Programming Two Systems

"Until the migration is complete, every time a new user is added or removed I have to program both the old and new system - fortunately the JANUS software is very intuitive and easy to use," added Des.

"Once the migration is complete we will start looking at some of the powerful software modules and analysis tools available for the JANUS system."

The modular nature of the JANUS software is an attractive benefit for Robinsons. A library of add on modules is available for the core JANUS server software, allowing the system to simply expand and encompass other applications and processes. Robinsons are particularly interested in the Guard Tour and Badge Production modules, both of which will help them streamline their security and save costs in the future.

The JANUS system is open architecture allowing integrated solutions to be developed, extending the current system at Robinsons for new applications, simply by adding software modules. For example, it could interface with the fire alarm system, automatically opening doors in the event of a fire.

"Knowing who entered certain parts of the building and when can be very helpful. It will be really useful to run this type of report across the entire system using just the JANUS system," continued Des.


The reason that Robinsons needed to upgrade their system was due to their existing system coming to the end of its life, with little or no support available and no expansion or upgrade path available - an all too common problem in the industry. Grosvenor Technology takes a different approach and invests heavily to ensure future-proofing. Each new version of JANUS software maintains backwards compatibility with previous versions of IDC, maintaining a client's investment with existing JANUS hardware that may have been installed over the last 15 years.

The combination of the latest IP network technology, future-proofing and excellent customer service is behind the decision that Robinsons made to rely on Grosvenor Technology for its current and future access control needs.

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