Case Studies

Case Studies

Restore Records Management and the BBC: Relocating 7m archive assets to continue keeping them safe for the nation

The customer

How do you relocate 7m archive assets held by the world’s most famous public service broadcaster, including specialist items that are part of the UK’s national heritage?

That was the challenge facing Restore Records Management and sister brand Harrow Green when we won a contract with the BBC to manage the corporation’s commercial archive storage services.



The contract, for 10 years, includes 74,000 linear metres of archive assets, consisting of audio, moving images, photographic stills, vinyl, and sheet music collected over the last century.

The challenge was how to move such an eclectic, and in some cases fragile, collection from the BBC’s site, to a specialist Restore Records Management document storage facility. This included managing 2.7m barcodes.

To add complexity to the task, the deadline was tight – with work starting in April 2023 and completed by the end of the year.

Assessing the challenge and preparing the way

It was clear that we needed to move at pace, given the project’s short timelines but there were complexities to consider.

These were not regular boxes of paper records, but national heritage assets stored on a variety of media – which needed to be kept in temperature and humidity-controlled vaults with gas fire suppression.

One of the first steps was to begin preparation work at our site to house these assets

  • 1,000,000 boxes were moved out of the building to create space
  • 9 temperature and humidity-controlled vaults (eight of them split into ground and mezzanine floors) were built, set at 18 and 12°C depending on the material stored
  • A gas suppression fire system was commissioned and installed
  • Each vault was fitted with mobile racking
  • An operational processing area was created
  • General site upgrades were implemented

To increase the pace of the move, and to improve sustainability, we re-used racking and vault doors from the BBC’s storage site rather than buying everything from new.

The move: bringing in our sister company, Harrow Green

Harrow Green, part of the Restore family and a market leading business relocation company, helped us plot and action moving archive assets to the new facility.

They planned the move sequence and were responsible for moving items from BBC vaults, packing and transporting them to their new home.

Items were moved in crates, cages and pallets.

The two companies were able to work seamlessly together. Our records management experts supported the move, and Harrow Green helped move items into storage.

Key challenges – and tactics used to overcome them

Barcodes

A key decision was taken to use BBC barcodes already indexed on the items. This required the development of new software – which allowed us to read and add them to our own O’Neill system.  Once again, this helped speed up the operation.

We knew ahead of the project that not all items had BBC barcodes.

For instance, there was an orchestral range of items that weren’t individually barcoded. So, we put a team into the BBC site ahead of the move and barcoded those on behalf of the corporation.

This was important because the orchestral range is a regularly picked archive, especially at certain times of the year. It needed to be easily accessible.

Live reporting

We recorded live every time an item was put on the shelf, so the BBC had complete transparency of what was being moved, what had been scanned and what had been put into a vault. Everything was tracked.

Bespoke ordering service –

We also developed a bespoke ordering system with the BBC. The process automatically produces a work order for our team to pick the item and deliver it.

The system:

  • Allows the BBC to query our O’Neil system from their systems.
  • Places orders for items to be delivered or collected (including range picks such as a collection of 78rpm records)
  • Provides instant notification of items now available to order.
  • Enables the BBC to manage access to their items and select delivery options.
  • Sends live notifications to the BBC
  • Sees order placed, item picked, sent out for delivery, delivered or collected.
  • Ensures items are scanned at the BBC and when placed in a vault.

Summing up the successes of the project

 

  • Developing a team: A focused and hardworking team has been built at Restore, providing excellent service.
  • Beating a deadline: The move was completed in December 2023, ahead of the 31st December deadline.
  • Technology that delivers: Systems and processes developed have worked well, with both teams kept up to date with progress.
  • Keeping quality high: Not waiting until the end of the project to correct errors ensured that quality was never forgotten. A dedicated team member at our site was assigned to maintain high standards.
  • Successful planning: All processes and setups have worked as planned, thanks to military precision in the process. This was the key to the success of the programme, along with cadence and governance to keep the programme on track.
  • BAU not compromised: Our ongoing service is running well.

  • 10 year contract
  • 74,000 linear metres of archive assets
  • 2.7m barcodes

Nigel Dews, Managing Director at Restore Records Management says:

“We are delighted and excited to be working with the BBC on this project. “We spent a lot of time getting to know the BBC’s needs to create a solution with sustainability, security, quality control, audit procedures and conservation at the core. It has been a winning formula to migrate the archive collections from the BBC’s existing facility to their new home. We look forward to storing the archive for years to come.”

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