A wireless LAN is cost-effective, scales easily, and gives users freedom for increased productivity
Today, many small businesses don’t even bother running network cables throughout their office space. Instead of wiring a network jack for every computer on the network, companies simply install a few additional pieces of wireless networking gear to provide ubiquitous wireless connectivity. After the basic network is in place, namely the switch and the router, it’s a matter of taking four basic steps to build a wireless local area network (WLAN) to connect your users to the Internet.
A wireless network offers many benefits to the small business. It’s easier to set up and access than a wired network, and it scales more simply and quickly when adding new users. Wireless LANs also give employees more flexibility to stay online while moving throughout the office, and guest users can connect to the Internet immediately with just a password. Choosing the best wireless LAN solutions for your business is key to building the right network.
Consider this. According to the second chapter of the 2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report, one in three college students and young employees under the age of 30 would prioritize device flexibility and social media freedom over salary in accepting a job offer. In fact, 40 percent of college students and 45 percent of young employees said they would accept a lower-paying job that had more device flexibility and social media access, than a higher-paying job with less flexibility. Wow!
People are so in love and attached to their mobile devices that half of college students and young employees said they would rather lose their wallet or purse than their mobile device, according to the study. And their mobile devices are multiplying – 77 percent of employees have multiple devices and one in three employees globally uses at least three devices for work.
Their attachment to their mobile devices goes a step further. More than half of college students and young employees want to use their own devices to access corporate networks, and two in five consider it a critical function of their job to be able to connect to the network from any location at any time.
So, what does this mean for businesses? People will want to continue their love affair with their mobile devices at work, so it’s better to be prepared to support employee-owned devices as the “bring your own device” trend is only becoming more prevalent.
We often talk about business issues, customer care-abouts, productivity savings and the like on this channel, and sometimes philanthropy or esoterics, but mostly if you’re an engineer you have to deal with the technology, the installation, the support, and all the other stuff in terms of where the-rubber-hits-the-road.
When we post videos, we know people lose interest if they’re more than five minutes, so I’m glad it takes less than that to connect the gear up. A couple of cheats help of course -- like switching the radios on in the Cisco gear (they are shipped switched off for security reasons), and it helps to have a pre-charged battery available for the Intermec CK3. But then the video wouldn’t have made it onto the channel! We have quite a few customers with this kind of Warehouse technology.
John Deere, working with integration and technology partners Prime Technologies (now Kubica) and AeroScout, used the existing Cisco Wi-Fi networking nodes that it had already installed throughout the facility to avoid the expense of installing RFID readers for a new manufacturing solution.
John Deere MaxEmergeXP
Here’s the story: John Deere’s Seeding Group factory in Moline, Ill. was seeking an automated solution to improve on its manual work in process manufacturing system. It wanted to increase efficiency in the way it replenished welding material as well as improve the way it carried out processes at its assembly stations at the plant. The factory in question assembles John Deere’s row-crop planter machines -- the MaxEmerge XP range - that are used by farmers to deposit a variety of seed in soils and seedbeds.
The new system uses a wireless back-haul to a Cisco infrastructure that enables the SAP, reporting and programmable logic controller (PLC) systems to communicate live. It’s intended to improve material replenishment and reduce delays caused by waiting for materials in its welding areas. It allows the equipment manufacturer’s kitting staff to boost material replenishment speed, and allows assembly workers to prepare for specific equipment as it approaches their assembly stations. The RFID Journal Story goes into excellent detail on the wip process and the process improvement, but I did want to reiterate some of the key business metrics:
“Our goal was to improve Takt time *,” says Shay O’Neal, John Deere Seeding Group’s project manager, who expects the reduction to increase from what he estimates may be about 5 percent improvement in Takt time thus far. He reckons there has been a 40 percent reduction in cycle time because of the improvement in replenishment. He has also seen a decrease in overtime work undertaken by kitting staff at the welding station. “I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the system met our needs,” O’Neal said in the RFID Journal article.
John Deere has seen a 40 percent increase in efficiency in welding due to improvements in material replenishment and fewer delays caused by waiting for materials in its welding areas.
On the assembly line, the system provides a view into the work in process (WIP), which thus far has reduced the cycle time (Takt) it takes to assemble a single product by about 5 percent.
Since existing Cisco Wi-Fi nodes read the RFID tag of each seeder as it passes from one assembly station to another, indicating where it has been and what its next assembly location will be, John Deere avoided the expense of installing RFID readers.
For quite a few years, experts within the wireless communications industry have been expressing concern about the potential for running out of wireless network capacity. Moreover, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski noted the ongoing challenges in his 2009 address at CTIA.
In July, the Fortune article, Spectrum Squeeze: The Battle for Bandwidth, envisioned a potential fight for wireless bandwidth frequencies between television networks and telecom service providers. In Canada, earlier in September, Shaw Communications announced it would use Wi-Fi as its next-generation wireless network of choice — in anticipation of future customer demand.