The IT Foundations for Realising ROI of IIoT

Rising customer expectations, an ‘on-demand’ supply chain, the complexity of global logistics, the move towards customisation – these and many other challenges are forcing players in manufacturing and supply chains to transform their operations in order to retain a competitive edge.

Both unearthing and implementing these transformational changes – however – requires a huge amount of digging into productivity, efficiency, and where gaps can be closed through innovation. To add to the size and scope of this task, as technology advances, the rate at which these gaps become evident increases; businesses slow to identify them are left further behind, faster.

Tackling these major challenges demands a shift in the way efficiency and productivity are handled, namely moving away from human monitoring, analysis and review towards automated systems that take advantage of machine learning, AI and cloud-based management.

Enter IoT and its capacity to help find productivity gaps and close them more accurately, efficiently, and affordably than humans ever can. The data generated by these devices provides organisations with real-time, data-driven insights that can have automated corrective actions, and embed an agile approach to change and transformation within the business.

McKinsey research estimates that by 2025, IoT devices and their application could save businesses over £350 billion per year in operational costs.

Benefits of Adopting IoT & Automated Monitoring of Efficiency

Reducing operational costs

Optimising how products are made, moved and managed throughout your supply chain carries huge cost savings through:

Health & safety

Your workforce is one of – if not the most – expensive cost to your business. IoT can help increase its profitability through:

Improved Production

Improving how each element of your production line performs means faster production times and better output as a whole, primarily through:

Realising the Potential of IoT in Warehouses & Avoiding Failed Adoptions

The benefits of IoT are clear, however successful deployments are based on more than just a plug and play approach, and many organisations who fail to adequately plan see their investment fall flat.

So what are the main reasons IoT adoption in warehouse environments fails? An initial factor that can lead to failure is a human one. A business culture that is not ready for a data-driven approach to strategy can cause serious issues, from resistance to the change to not having the adequate skillset available, either in house or external. This can be a challenge to overcome post-deployment.

The simplest and most easily remedied reasons for failure, however, are IT ones, including:

There’s no doubt that adopting a data-driven business strategy with IoT at the centre puts pressure on your IT infrastructure, from a rising number of inter-connected devices on the edge, all independently aggregating and analysing data, to consistently higher traffic, blurred network edges and higher security risks.

Networks that cannot provide the necessary connectivity foundations for IoT will prevent your organisation from realising the value of IoT – both it’s current and exponentially bigger future potential.

This is where next-gen networks, primarily Wi-Fi 6 and cloud-based networks excel. Wi-Fi 6 delivers 160 MHz of bandwidth, data rates of 10Gbps, and operates at 5 GHz, giving superior performance that’s quite literally made for IoT, with faster throughput, reliable and robust connectivity, significantly less congestion and reduced power consumption. Moving to a cloud-based network removes limits on your IT infrastructure, making it truly scalable, offering easy deployment with zero-touch-provisioning, and giving total control of every device from anywhere, any time. Cloud-based networks are ideal for multi-site businesses where having locally managed networks are becoming increasingly complex and disjointed – for example supply chains, manufacturing and logistics. In short, cloud-based networks mean you can build, monitor, manage and scale your smart spaces faster, easier, and with better outcomes.

Any network which looks to take advantage of constantly evolving tech such as IoT needs to be designed with the future in mind – both the future of your business and the future tech it will look to adopt. If you’d like to find out more about next-gen networks to support IoT, get in touch with us. Our network engineers are experts in wired and wireless networks in warehouse environments, and have the latest CWISA accreditation in IoT solutions and administration.

Warehouses are complex environments for WiFi. Users and devices are constantly moving from place to place, the signal is attenuated by racking, and there is a large area to cover. As a result, many systems that would perhaps work well in a simpler environment (such as an office) are not transferable to the warehouse.

When issues inevitably arise, it is understandably often a kneejerk reaction to make quick changes to try and mitigate the problems caused by a struggling network. These include:

Add more access points

This may well be the solution to your problem. Still, it needs to be managed carefully to ensure we’re covering the desired areas without causing interference to the rest of the network.

Install warehouse WiFi extenders

This technology has many names (warehouse WiFi boosters, repeaters), but all do the same thing – extend your Wi-Fi coverage; however, it causes additional jitter, latency, delay, reduces overall throughput and increases interference. These types of solutions should be avoided. Trust us, there are better options.

Meshing

Meshing can be used to solve coverage and can work well under certain stances. However, when you try to mesh multiple APs, place those APs too far away from each other or connect numerous devices, you can quickly run into issues. Meshing can work well in homes or small offices but it doesn’t support the capacity or throughput needed by most warehouses.

Turn up the power

Increasing the transmit power of your access points may seem like an easy way to improve coverage. However, Wi-Fi is a two-way conversation, and your devices also need to talk louder to send that signal back. In most battery-powered devices, this is not an option.

Use wider channel widths

Using wider channels enables higher data rates, making it appealing for many users. However, there is a limited amount of spectrum to use, and as a result, wider channels can often cause interference.

Usually, these ‘solutions’ are akin to placing a plaster on an open-heart wound, and in some cases, may create more problems than they solve! You’re then left with a more convoluted IT infrastructure that’s harder to monitor, harder to manage, and with more things to break down or go wrong. In short, you’ve compromised the integrity of your network so that it is unlikely to offer even, reliable performance in all areas you need it to.

At Redway Networks, we take a different approach to designing networks. Every warehouse is different, and as a result, we tailor each design to our customer’s needs. We consider the layout of the building, the materials inside, what devices are in use, how many and what future plans the business has for Wi-Fi usage. To deliver a successful design that will last for years, we utilise industry-leading tools such as Ekahau, giving us the ability to plan signal strength, data rates and mitigate interference. Once a network is in place, we always conduct a verification survey to verify our design and optimise performance. This gives us the ability to get your network working from day one.

With extensive experience in the logistics and manufacturing sector, we understand the challenges warehouse environments face when it comes to connectivity. We also know how to future-proof your business for the future of supply chains through networks that can adopt emerging tech such as machine learning, automation, real-time analytics and hyper-agile connectivity.

If you’d like to talk to us about your wireless network, get in touch with our Warehouse WiFi engineers today.

We all know that designing WiFi for warehouses is more specialist than the average office building. One of the key points to getting a fast, reliable wireless network in your warehouse is the initial design, but equally important are the wireless products.

There are many interfering factors in the warehouse which can result in a solution offering poorer performance than elsewhere. Warehouse layout, racking arrangement, environment (hot or cold) stock type and how often that stock is moved all affect the performance of the WiFI. In addition, you have the building type ( most warehouses are made from metal which isn’t ideal for radio frequency) plus high ceilings, ceiling angles, and interfering materials all add to the complexity.

For this reason, when proposing a wireless infrastructure for the warehouse we recommend Cambium Networks as it has many antenna options so we can tailor each solution we offer. Cambium’s access points are IP67 rated and with a minimum 3-year warranty are built to last. On top of all that Cambium’s entire solution is cloud-managed enabling faster deployment, configuration and troubleshooting for the lifetime of the network.

Our top reasons for evaluating Cambium when looking for a new wireless solution are: