Global supply chain concerns have seen many manufacturing and warehousing companies accelerate digital transformations as they seek to resolve issues with capabilities like remote monitoring. While useful, it’s critical to remember that these solutions - and most manufacturing and warehousing processes - depend on a robust and reliable WiFi. Optimizing the network is therefore the number one priority for long-term success.
What does an optimized WiFi network look like?
Ultimately, an optimized network is one that is trusted to be there whenever it is needed, whether it is being used by employees or automated equipment. This means that there are no delayed responses, dropped connections, or other performance issues. All needs are met at all times.
How does an optimized WiFi network alleviate supply chain concerns?
The WiFi network is the backbone of business continuity. It supports most of the tools and solutions that manufacturers and distributors use to:
- Track goods along every step of the supply chain
- Ensure inventory count accuracy
- Eliminate downtime and bottlenecks in all management and fulfillment processes
- Provide data in real-time for process and manufacturing equipment improvements
Just as all of these solutions must work constantly and consistently, the same is true for the WiFi. Without it, connected devices can not communicate and work will grind to a halt.
How is the network optimized?
Companies can work with one or more WiFi optimization solutions to ensure that their network is issue-free and meets all end user demands. These solutions should provide:
- End user quality metrics
- Non-stop monitoring
- Automated troubleshooting
- Real-time alerts
- Complete visibility
End user quality metrics
To get the best understanding of network performance, IT teams need to know exactly what end users are experiencing. Look for telemetry solutions that will automatically collect and transmit data from remote or otherwise inaccessible sources. This ensures that IT has access to all analytics and can create a complete picture of network health.
With these metrics, administrators can determine if software and products are working as they should, if they are supporting business goals, and what, if any, changes need to be made as far as technology adoption and network design.
Since networks are dynamic, creating and maintaining optimization requires constant analytics. Be sure that both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies are monitored, as well as the 6GHz band if WiFi 6E products are used.
The network ecosystem isn’t only affected by human use. It can change based on anything from automatic software updates to regular infrastructure wear and tear. Be sure to monitor all frequencies 24/7, whether or not anyone is onsite, to give IT the analytics they need for long-lasting optimization.
The last thing manufacturers need is for IT to have to be onsite to resolve issues. Make sure that any optimization solution is remote capable so that teams can view network analytics and troubleshoot issues from any location at any time.
This not only reduces the Mean-Time-to-Resolution but also saves companies money by reducing remote site visits.
IT needs to be alerted to any network abnormalities in real-time. This gives teams the ability to often troubleshoot and resolve issues before end users and business processes are affected.
Look for solutions with AI and machine learning capabilities to provide this feature.
Future-proofing, designing businesses to meet both current supply and future demand, is nothing new for manufacturers. Not all companies make it an active part of their WiFi network optimization though, and this is a mistake.
Long-term network reliability is key for assured business continuity. This means that administrators need to know not only how a network is currently performing, but how performance has changed over time and what upgrades will likely be needed in the near future.
Gain these insights with historical data and analytics. These can be automatically or manually captured, depending on the optimization solutions adopted.
The networks in manufacturing and warehousing buildings face a number of challenges from:
Incredibly high ceilings
- Building materials like concrete and metal
- Fluctuating temperature conditions
- Mobile devices that must have constant coverage no matter where employees work
- The sheer number of connected devices (usually hundreds or thousands)
- Nearby networks sharing the airspace
- Non-WiFi devices like Bluetooth and microwaves sharing the airspace
To ensure optimal health and behavior, IT teams should have complete network ecosystem visibility at all times. There should be no “dark spots” or network mysteries. If teams are missing analytics, they will have a much harder time identifying root cause issues and quickly implementing resolutions.
Streamline optimization and improve your reputation
Before adopting WiFi optimization technology, make sure solutions are easily implemented and even more easily learned so that change is as painless as possible for employees and improvements are felt quickly by all end users.
After employees, the WiFi network is a company’s most valuable resource. Businesses that take the steps to optimize it today, and ensure future-proofed results, are setting themselves up for lasting success no matter how long supply chain concerns continue.