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Five steps to ensure your WiFi network is industrial strength – Part 1

Posted by Steve Northcott

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October 5, 2015 at 6:00 AM

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This two part blog series covers five questions to ask and answer in order to ensure your WiFi network is industrial strength. In this first part we identify the first two of these five questions you should be asking.

Having established corporate office and branch WLANs, many companies are now realising that their industrial environments have fallen far behind the carpeted space, in some cases by as much as five years. In that time, a vast amount of wireless communications opportunities have developed which companies need to start taking full advantage of if they are to maximise the benefits of mobility in their industrial environments.

All WLANs are not the same however, and it’s essential that you pick the right one. Industrial environments are getting bigger, more complex and more reliant on operations-critical, real-time communications technology, so in order to overcome the challenges unique to an industrial environment you need an industrial strength WiFi network. Office-grade technology designed for the carpeted space cannot support complex, fast-paced, RF-challenged industrial environments, and it’s no longer a case of just asking how many square feet you have, there are a whole raft of questions you should be asking.

As you examine your current industrial wireless system, or plan a new or upgraded network, it is essential that you have a good understanding of the specific challenges you will face and the capabilities your network will need to provide in order to overcome them. Thoughtful and thorough answers to the five questions we will identify in this blog series will help you ensure that your wireless network is truly industrial strength.

  1. Can your WLAN support reliable mobile connectivity in a complex and dynamic environment?

Industrial environments are constantly changing as inventory and equipment is shipped, structures are getting bigger and denser, covering hundreds of thousands of square feet and encompassing indoor and outdoor facilities, and they have never been more on the move. This presents a specific set of challenges an effective WLAN must be able to overcome. The wireless network needs to quickly adapt to changing dynamics, it needs to maintain coverage and connectivity regardless of size and it needs to support a nomadic communications solution to enable and support the constant movement of people, equipment, materials and merchandise.

  1. Can Your Network Support a Plethora of Consumer and Industrial Strength Devices?

It’s not just workers who are on the move in industrial environments, there is also the vast number of wireless devices, all of which have varying antenna strengths and receiver sensitivities which your wireless network must accommodate. Different devices are required to support the vast range of activities taking place throughout the industrial environment. As a result the wireless network has a plethora of different devices to support, from powerful laptops to barcode scanners, wearable computers to RFID readers. Further complicating this is the increasing use of personal smartphones and tablets which add further demands to your network.

The industrial environment is fast-pasted and ever changing with a vast array of devices being used and relied upon within it. As a result, it is vital that your wireless network can support the various challenges that come with such a complex environment and the first step towards this is ensuring that your network is industrial strength.

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Keep an eye out for part two of this blog where we will identify the remaining three questions to ask. Alternatively, you can download our White Paper, ‘Is Your Wireless Network Industrial Strength?’ which explores all five essential questions in more detail and offers our expert advice on what network solution is the right fit for you. Click the here or the button below to download it now:

 

Topics: EMEA, Wireless LAN, Warehousing, Wifi