What we achieved

  • 8X reduced processing time

  • Easily accessed from remote locations

  • Dependable backward compatibility

To who


  • Part 1


    P.D. Hook controls its core production with Domino apps and needed to extend access to them to remote employees on the edge of their network.

  • Part 2


    HCL Business Partner Intec Systems deployed a low-cost, HCL Domino-powered mobile app, using tablets with IoT SIM cards, to empower remote workers.

  • Part 3


    P.D. Hook is impressed by how much value it gets from the solution, which has transformed the UK company into a dominant poultry industry player.

The Challenge

Modernizing Agriculture

Chicken and turkey are staples of British cuisine and providing the UK food industry with the poultry it needs is no small task. P. D. Hook currently supplies around 50% of the chicken produced in the country, which means that its hatcheries need to be able to produce between 10 and 10.5 million chicks per week.

Operating on this scale means that the company’s operations need to run like clockwork. Eggs, chicks and mature birds must be delivered to the right points in the production process at the right time, and everything must be timed to the minute to keep the production lines rolling.

At the same time, the company needs to meet rigorous requirements around animal welfare and biosecurity, as well as maintain appropriate staffing levels based on supply and demand forecasts. All of these factors contribute to a complex set of operational optimization problems that the company must solve on a daily basis.

Nigel Boyle, Administration and Technical Director at P. D. Hook, comments, “As our business grew, we were quick to realize that operating at scale presented problems that couldn’t be solved with paper-based processes and spreadsheets. That’s where our story with HCL Notes and Domino begins.”

Over the past 20 years, P. D. Hook has replaced dozens of outdated processes with HCL Domino apps, but their recent challenge was that many remote sites still lacked access to the company’s network and could only communicate via phone and fax.

“Combining Domino’s robust data model and security framework with modern app development tools like Node.js will give us the best of both worlds.”

— Nigel Boyle

Administration & Technical Director P. D. Hook

The Solution

Hatching a Modern Enterprise

P. D. Hook began its modernization journey by creating an HCL Domino application known as its Hatchery Book — a daily journal that records every significant event and transaction that occurs across all nine hatcheries. The Hatchery Book provides a rich source of operational and financial information that helps the company and its suppliers make efficient day-to-day decisions, and has become its most business-critical system. The success of the Hatchery Book project sparked a proliferation of other HCL Domino applications, which the company uses to handle processes such as just-in-time delivery for the live haulage team, demand forecasting for the breeders, and vehicle mileage for the leasing team.

Nigel Boyle relays, “The thing that really impresses me about the HCL Domino platform is the effort that HCL puts into maintaining backward compatibility. If we’d built these applications using a traditional SQL database, we would have needed to rewrite them numerous times over the years as the technology changed. But when we move to a new version of Domino, everything just works — there’s no extra development effort.”

Over the course of its journey with HCL Notes and Domino, P. D. Hook has also introduced other HCL solutions such as HCL Sametime for instant messaging, HCL Connections for secure file sharing, and BigFix for managing its estate of devices.

“Domino is still at the core of everything we do, but it’s great to have the ability to integrate with other HCL products to add more functionality,” says Nigel Boyle.

While the core of the business has been relying on Domino applications for more than two decades, there was still a final frontier to cross. Many of P. D. Hook’s employees work at sites in remote locations, which are not connected to the company’s network. Communicating data to headquarters still involved faxing printed records, which meant the organization was not yet completely paperless.

To solve the challenge, the company partnered with Intec System to pilot a new Domino mobile app to run on iPads using a special IoT SIM card. Employees at remote sites — starting with the company’s acquired turkey-farming business — were able to key data directly into the app and rely on Domino’s powerful data replication capabilities to sync with the company’s central servers whenever they have a mobile data connection.

Nigel Boyle comments: “We’ve built a good relationship with Intec — we trust them to act as an extension of our own in-house Domino development team, and they’ve already made a valuable contribution by helping us build APIs to integrate some of our existing apps with external services.”

“We're delighted to see that HCL are investing in the future of Domino, with the release of version 12 and the additional features that will bring. Improved security, numerous admin enhancements and the introduction of HCL Nomad Web, will all provide additional benefits for our business.”

— Nigel Boyle

Administration & Technical Director P. D. Hook, UK

The Results

Laying a Foundation for Future Growth

P. D. Hook’s HCL Domino applications play a vital role in helping the business scale to meet demand, while keeping operational costs and complexity under control. Nigel Boyle says: “Before we built our Domino applications, almost everything we did was manual. In one case, we were rekeying the same data on egg deliveries up to eight times over the course of a process. At first, we managed to get that down to two, and now that we have the remote sites using Nomad on iPads, we only need to key it in once

Reducing manual processing by a factor of eight equates to a significant gain in productivity — empowering employees to focus on the important aspects of their job, instead of filling in paperwork. As the UK’s political and economic situation shifts, the company expects to see significant labor shortages in the manufacturing sector, so making the best use of employees’ time will become even more critical.

Nigel concludes, “It’s difficult to measure the return on investment for a solution like HCL Domino, but whenever we renew our licenses, we’re impressed by how much value we’re getting from the solution. Our Domino apps have helped us transform the company into a dominant player in the UK poultry industry, and we’re excited to see how we can harness the platform to deliver even greater efficiency in the future.”

About the company

Since the 1950s, P. D. Hook has been a leader in the UK’s chicken industry. Today, its hatcheries produce between 10 and 10.5 million chicks per week, which comprises around 50 percent of the country’s total chicken production. Besides its hatcheries, the company also has interests in breeding and rearing both chickens and turkeys. The company employs 2,000 people at 400 locations across the country

About the Business Partner

Intec Systems Limited is an HCL Business Partner that collaborates with its clients as a trusted advisor, bringing together business insight, significant experience and technology to provide a distinct advantage in today’s rapidly changing business environment. With over 30 years’ experience in a wide range of business and information technology domains, Intec’s mission is to help customers anticipate change and profit from new opportunities. 

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