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Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (UHB) is one of the largest NHS organisations in Europe employing around 14,500 staff and spending £1.4 billion every year on providing health and wellbeing services to a population of 472,400 people living in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. It also serves a wider population across South and Mid Wales for a range of specialities. Acute services are delivered through two main University Hospitals and Children’s hospitals: providing a broad range of medical and surgical treatments.

It is a teaching Health Board with close links to the university sector which together are training the next generation of healthcare professionals while working on research that will hopefully unlock the cures for today’s illnesses.

Thousands of Machines Required Secure Disposal

With Windows 7 no longer receiving security updates after 14 January 2020, it was important for the organisation to move to a more secure platform to avoid any unnecessary downtime or data breaches. Mark Alford is the Windows 10 Programme Manager and his team of 23 is responsible for the upgrade of 11,000 Windows 7 machines to Windows 10. Stone Group is the preferred supplier when it comes to IT recycling and with around 5,000 machines needing secure disposal, this was a major project for both parties.

Mark had spoken to several companies to cost the project and was quoted up to £35,000. Fortunately, the organisation had worked with Stone Group for some time and not only were they confident Stone had the resources to cope with the major disposal – they also collected free of charge. Due to this, the project resulted in far more IT equipment for recycling than was originally anticipated, as many staff also wanted their older equipment
being sent to Stone.

As well as the machines themselves, there were also ancillary products, meaning that PCs, laptops, screens, printers, keyboards, mice, phones, cables, disks and servers were all part of the collection and disposal.

The major replacement programme which started in January 2021 saw the organisation consistently replacing around 200 machines a week for eight months. The collections were largely done once every two weeks but at their peak, Stone would be collecting three times a month with anything from 4 up to 14 cages of equipment from across the Board’s estate.

We have received around £10,000 in rebates because of the scale of our disposal. This money has gone back into the IT budget and this together with the £35,000 we saved by working with Stone, is very welcome for the NHS.

Mark Alford, Windows 10 Programmer at Cardiff & Vale UHB

Data Security is a Priority

One of the major factors for the Board in working with Stone is their reputation around data security and safety. As expected, the Board holds a substantial amount of sensitive and confidential patient information and so they had to have 100% trust in Stone’s ability to clean and dispose of the data securely. There were vast quantities involved and so they needed a partner they could rely on – “this was by far the most important deciding factor when working with Stone Group” according to Mark.

Stone manages ITAD entirely in-house in their dedicated recycling facility which means there is no third-party involvement. The redundant kit is collected in Stone Group GPS tracked vans, fitted with CCTV cameras and load weighing systems. The drivers, who are all security-cleared, transported the Board’s equipment to Stone’s fully accredited recycling facility and data-erasure centre in Staffordshire.

Stone reassured the Board that the redundant IT data would then be removed using the same prestigious standards employed by the Ministry of Defence, providing them with peace of mind. Stone is one of a handful of UK Gold Blancco partners, working to government-approved CESG standards. In addition, the University Health Board was provided with a full audit report and certificate of disposal to ensure complete traceability.

In addition to the secure in-house services, Stone Group has also developed a unique app – Stone 360® – which is available to all organisations. It has been designed to make the process of uploading details of the equipment to be collected as easy as possible for the customer and with Mark and his team working at pace, he found it invaluable.

“Because of the sheer volume of kit we had, we used the Stone 360® app a lot and it has really cut down on the time we would normally have had to take filling in forms or uploading information to a PC” he said. It was really easy to use and intuitive – and the app also allowed me to set up new collection points at the touch of a button which meant Stone drivers could be directed to pick-ups anywhere across our estate. It was never a problem.”

Enjoyed Significant Financial Rebates

Another benefit of working with Stone Group is the fact it is committed to zero waste to landfill and also works to reuse or recycle every single item of equipment. It then offers a rebate to customers based on the amount of kit they have recycled. In Cardiff and Vale University Board’s case, this amounted to thousands of pounds.

“We have received around £10,000 in rebates because of the scale of our disposal,” said Mark. “This money has gone back into the IT budget and this together with the £35,000 we saved by working with Stone, is very welcome for the NHS.”

The major upgrade has now been completed and Mark believes his team could not have achieved their objectives without the help of Stone.

“Much of these pick-ups were done when the country was feeling the impact of Covid and a fuel shortage,” he said, “and sometimes, we were literally drowning in machines which meant I had to rely on Stone’s excellent people as well as their excellent processes.

“I would just pick up the phone and speak to a real person and ask if they could come right away or could send larger vehicles. Stone were never fazed, there were no barriers and the larger vehicles arrived on time and continued to shift tons of equipment, quickly and efficiently without issue. This flexibility was invaluable on more than one occasion.
“Despite working in difficult circumstances, Stone Group did not miss a single pick up throughout the whole project and that’s one of the reasons why I will always recommend working with Stone.”

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