Riverford Organic Farmers trusts Paessler PRTG to keep produce fresh for 50,000 weekly vegetable boxes


About Riverford Organic Farmers

Riverford Organic Farmers Ltd was founded by Guy Singh-Watson, who has grown the business over the last 30 years from delivering homegrown organic vegetables to friends, to a national vegetable box scheme delivering to around 50,000 customers each week. The company employs 1,000 people and is based in Devon, England, with three regional sister farms and a farm in France.


Like many major companies with an IT estate and multiple sites to manage, there are a vast array of devices that are integral to keeping the business functioning at peak performance. It’s important for the IT team at Riverford Organic Farmers to have visibility of these devices from both an IT infrastructure and environmental monitoring perspective. This is even more integral to a food and beverage business because the food needs to be kept fresh and at the right temperature and humidity 24/7.



“There are around 20 people within the business across various departments using PRTG who look at the dashboard, but the beauty of it is that we don't really have to look at it. In terms of its day-to-day use, we just let it do its thing, and we just act on alerts when necessary. ”

Ollie Kerslake, Infrastructure Lead at Riverford Organic Farmers


Enter Paessler PRTG


To address this challenge, Ollie Kerslake, Infrastructure Lead at Riverford Organic Farmers, and his team have been using Paessler PRTG Network Monitor for five years to get more visibility over the storage of their farm produce and meat as well as their whole IT environment.

Kerslake explained: “There are refrigerators and freezers at various sites that are monitored using PRTG. The warehouse team and the butchery team have screens in key locations so that they can review the dashboard at all times and check everything is operating correctly.”  The potential impact on the business if the fridges or freezers shut down would be £500,000 in terms of the volume of stock that needs to be kept fresh on any given day so it is essential that they are monitored 24/7.

Apart from the warehouse and butchery teams needing to check the PRTG dashboard, PRTG constantly operates in the background. Kerslake adds: “There are around 20 people within the business across various departments using PRTG who look at the dashboard, but the beauty of it is that we don't really have to look at it. In terms of its day-to-day use, we just let it do its thing, and we just act on alerts when necessary. Occasionally we'll check it if we're doing any kind of road mapping or scoping out of projects, when we will look at trend data to use it for forecasting. But unless we're adding new devices to it, we just leave it to run in the background and alert us when action is required.”


The business benefits

Riverford Organic Farmers uses 1,500 sensors across its whole business. Kerslake explained: “From a server perspective, we're monitoring all of the key components of our service such as CPU usage, RAM disk space, the Windows services that it's running, and network connectivity of that server. In terms of networks, we’re monitoring all of our switches, firewalls, and access points, as well as our Wi-Fi usage so we can see if we’re having any internet spikes as well as using it to monitor our access points to see if they are being over-utilised. It’s really useful to be able to easily pull performance metrics from the PRTG dashboard.”

Monitoring the various sites and IT infrastructure around the clock is a key priority for the IT team at Riverford Organic Farmers. Thanks to PRTG, they are often alerted to issues and can resolve them before they have impact on the business or customers, which has been a major benefit so far.

Kerslake explained: “Two weeks ago, our ISP, who provides our MPLS which connects all of our remote sites to our headquarters, experienced an issue late in the evening. It was only due to PRTG picking up packet loss from our firewall at our headquarters that we knew that there was an issue. We failed to receive anything from our ISP and we didn’t get anything from our users because they’d all gone home for the day. So, without the alert from PRTG we would have potentially come in the following day to a complete disaster, and all of our remote sites would have been disconnected. So, it was thanks to PRTG alerting us to the fact that there was potentially an issue that we managed to resolve it that same evening and carry out the necessary actions before any of our external suppliers or customers noticed that there was a problem. It also helped us avoid around £10,000 of missed deliveries. Not only does it make our day easier it definitely gives us an element of security, so it helps us to sleep a little bit easier too.”



Kerslake says that PRTG helps the IT team to build awareness of the important role that it plays within the business: “In terms of growing the visibility of my team internally, PRTG is a great way for the leadership team to see some of the business benefits and to realise how it's being used concretely within the company rather than just working behind the scenes to keep everything running smoothly. Every month we have a departmental meeting, and we discuss proactive actions that we've taken to avoid potential outage or serious issues, and a lot of that is driven by learnings from PRTG.”


Sustainability and measuring the energy efficiency of AI 

The possibilities that PRTG offers Riverford Organic Farmers are exciting when it comes to making the company more innovative and sustainable in the future. Kerslake explains: “My vision for the future in terms of using PRTG in new ways is to measure our environmental impact from an IT perspective, as we’re already futuristic and agile, we can be even more efficient. When it comes to developing the IoT side of the business we have started looking at monitoring some of our current infrastructure. For example, when we pick and pack products for our boxes, we’re running an initial trial with our facilities and maintenance team to spot potential problems with hardware if the boxes are packed by machines rather than humans. We’re going through a first trial of what that looks like, the software required and how we could monitor equipment.” 

PRTG can also help the IT team measure the potential environmental impact of the use of AI and automation. “Every AI request generates power, so we have to be cautious of that. On site in our HQ we've got hybrid environments, half of our IT is on site and half of it is in a cloud. And that does draw a lot of power, so we have to be mindful of how we monitor that going forwards to make our company even more energy efficient.” 




Kerslake concludes: “We are a farming and food and beverage business, and we pride ourselves on being pretty high-tech in that space. Our five-year vision is to leverage more AI and automation. We're heavily investing in AI just to help us forecast how some day-to-day tasks can be better performed by using robotics. A lot of Riverford is still very manual even though we have put some automation in our warehouses in place. When it comes to AI and the way that the company will evolve in the next few years, we see Paessler PRTG as a partner on our journey to become smarter and better optimised. PRTG will always have a place at Riverford and my team will fight very hard on that point.”


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