Benefits of WiFi Automation for Manufacturers
There are two universal truths about manufacturing and warehousing:
- Millions of consumers depend on the manufacturing industry.
- In turn, the manufacturing industry depends on robust and reliable WiFi to guarantee business continuity.
Safeguarding the WiFi and assuring optimal network performance is critical to a company’s success and reputation. There must be an end to intermittent and dropped WiFi connections, mysteriously delayed responses, and negative network surprises that interrupt business continuity for anywhere from hours to days.
Achieving this level of assured performance requires an understanding of the unique WiFi challenges of the manufacturing industry, both on a global and local level.
Here’s a look at those challenges and how to use AI-powered WiFi automation to overcome them and lock-in long-term success.
What is WiFi automation?
AI-powered WiFi automation platforms automate WiFi optimization processes – i.e., analytics, troubleshooting, and resolutions. They provide proactive, easy-to-understand answers for IT so that designing and maintaining issue-free networks becomes simple and manageable for all teams, whether or not they have a WiFi expert onsite.
Expect platforms to deliver:
- Automated troubleshooting
- End user quality metrics
- Real-time and historical analytics
- Proactive alerts
- Scalable support for hundreds to thousands of devices
- 24/7 eyes on the entire network ecosystem
These capabilities are necessary to cost-effectively reduce the following challenges.
WiFi Challenge: A highly mobile environment with thousands of devices
WiFi Automation’s Answer: Multi-radio sensors
Many manufacturers have outsourced time consuming and critical tasks to technology and this greatly increases the number of devices on the network. Sensors are used to detect dangerous leaks, temperature changes, monitor energy consumption and machine performance, and send remote data back to an office. In addition, there are devices such as inventory scanners and tablets being used by employees as they move throughout facilities.
This requires the WiFi to provide consistent, strong coverage to devices no matter where they are in order to avoid dropped connections and erratic performance. If there are device or network problems, the data necessary to maintain business continuity won’t be readily available.
Business continuity can be supported by a platform that uses multi-radio sensors. With three radios, sensors ensure the following:
- Non-stop analytics from the 2.4GHz frequency
- Non-stop analytics from the 5GHz frequency
- Consistent network testing
- Bonus: the third radio may be able to function as a WiFi client, allowing the automation platform to connect wirelessly to the network if no wired port is available.
Lost data means lost opportunities to optimize the network, something that the manufacturing sector needs and wants to avoid. With three radios, IT never misses out on problem-solving data and analytics.
WiFi Challenge: Interference from building materials, high ceilings, and fluctuating inventory conditions
WiFi Automation’s Answer: Constant, real-time analytics
Concrete, brick, and metal – common building materials found in warehouses and other manufacturing facilities – are well known to be difficult materials for WiFi to pass through. Add in the complications of high ceilings – which can mean APs are located quite a distance from connected devices – and fluctuating inventory, and these facilities present far from ideal operating conditions.
These challenges are usually addressed by a site survey to determine the optimal placement of all APs and network infrastructure. These surveys are an important part of the process, but they only provide a snapshot look at the issue. If a building is updated, if shelves and equipment are moved around, the survey likely needs to be repeated to see how the new layout affects the WiFi.
This can be a costly and time consuming process. Instead of having to schedule surveys and wait for results, the manufacturing sector can use WiFi automation platforms to constantly survey the network 24/7. Analytics are delivered in real-time, which means that IT teams are aware of issues as soon as they occur.
If any changes in network design need to be made, IT can immediately begin to work on resolutions.
WiFi Challenge: Manufacturing equipment and machinery – some of which use radio signals for operation
WiFi Automation’s Answer: Automated troubleshooting
Many manufacturing systems are dependent on one another, which means if one experiences issues, the ripple effects can spread far and wide. WiFi automation platforms analyze both WiFi and non-WiFi sources of interference so that there are no unidentified root causes. Some platforms will also deliver actionable resolutions with problem alerts to significantly reduce the Mean-Time-to-Resolution and proactively improve the user experience.
In addition to automating the troubleshooting process, these platforms are remote capable. This saves companies time and money by reducing IT trips to remote locations. Teams don’t have to spend time traveling and waiting for intermittent issues to recur. Troubleshooting can begin immediately with resolutions implemented anytime and anywhere.
WiFi Challenge: Updates must be planned carefully to avoid improper shutdowns of equipment
WiFi Automation’s Answer: Historical wireless traces
In factory and manufacturing environments, it isn’t always possible to upgrade firmware or perform a maintenance reboot at any time. If something stops the production cycle and takes devices or equipment offline abruptly, it can put employees and equipment at risk.
IT teams follow strict best practices to avoid these issues. It’s important for all decision makers to know exactly what updates are needed in order to plan the best implementation times. This is when historical wireless traces become invaluable.
With these analytics, administrators can see long-term trends in the health and performance of the WiFi network. This enables them to make personalized cost-effective plans to upgrade and update their network in the ways that it needs to best support the business.
While analytics can be gathered manually over time, the most efficient way to perform this task is with an automation platform that will do it automatically. The Wireless Intelligence Platform™ (WIP) is the only AI-powered WiFi automation platform on the market that automatically saves historical wireless traces for a week, giving IT teams and administrators complete visibility into all WiFi communications.
Thanks to this support and its other capabilities, the vendor-agnostic WIP delivers:
- 90% faster Mean-Time-to-Resolution
- 70% fewer WiFi problem tickets
- 80% fewer remote site visits
To eliminate mission-disrupting WiFi issues, ask for a free demo or trial today.