It is essential that industrial environments don’t just implement a WLAN, but that they implement the right WLAN. A high-performance, purpose-built industrial WLAN is a critical success factor in maximising the benefits of mobility in manufacturing, distribution and storage facilities. In part one of this two part blog series we explored the first two questions to ask as you prepare your industrial environment to take full advantage of today’s wireless communications opportunities. In our conclusive blog we identify the three remaining questions.
- Can your industrial network deliver the optimum amount of bandwidth for each voice, data and video application?
It’s important to have an accurate understanding of the specific applications you intend to use in your operations and how much bandwidth each will require, as some applications will require far more bandwidth than others. An industrial environment needs reliable range and coverage to make bandwidth accessible throughout. In addition, it needs to provide the optimum amount of throughput.
The growth of browser-based network access and cloud-based applications will continue and will drive even more traffic over the network, so it’s important that this is taken into consideration as many of today’s lower-bandwidth systems will be unable to handle it effectively. However, managing your bandwidth is equally important when it comes to optimising operations, especially during peak periods such as the run up to Christmas in a retail warehouse. Your industrial network therefore needs to provide you with control over your bandwidth therefore avoiding congestions and bottlenecks.
- Do you have the tools and/or resources to monitor and manage your industrial wireless network and devices in real time?
Industrial networks are a complex necessity and in order to maximise their value you need real-time management of your network components, your devices and your applications. Your network must enable proactive rather than reactive troubleshooting to avoid downtime and it needs to provide system wide security that guards against intrusion and the growing risk of cyber-attacks.
Another key consideration is whether you have the technical expertise and resources to manage your industrial networks internally. Effective management of your network demands centralised visibility and control of your entire system, that way you can ensure that it provides reliability and redundancy indoors and out. If you do need help, you will need to decide whether to deploy integrated security, management and troubleshooting tools or form a partnership with an expert in mission and business critical wireless communications.
- Can you deploy a unified corporate-wide WLAN optimised for both carpeted and industrial environments?
Despite the vast difference between office and industrial environments the best solution is often a powerful single network that is optimised for both environments. The carpeted space solution will need to maximise indoor office voice and data communications, whilst the industrial network should be ruggedised for indoor/outdoor coverage, mobile connectivity, complex RF challenges and extreme conditions and temperature ranges.
While performance and reliability are essential, in order to see improved productivity and ROI you need to have powerful unified network capabilities. Your optimum corporate network will therefore provide an integrated management and control platform that enables you to monitor and maximise performance of both network environments in real-time from a single centralised command centre.
Whether you’re on the plant floor or the warehouse, yard or the port, today’s industrial spaces represent very different environments to the carpeted space. They are inherently more complex, mobile and much harsher, so it is essential that you select a WLAN that can cope with these challenges.
We have outlined various use cases in our ‘Is Your Wireless Network Industrial Strength’ White Paper to help you further answer these five essential questions. To download it, click the button below: