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Don’t Let These Wi-Fi Pitfalls Make You Regret Your Mobile Computer Purchase

For your users to get the most out of your ERP and mobile computing devices, a reliable wireless network is a must-have.

You traded in pen and paper for an ERP system. Then you invested in mobile barcode scanners to add even more automation and productivity gains. But, something’s still not right. The scanners seem to take forever to read labels and looking up information on the devices takes even longer. These are the kinds of problems we see when companies don’t take our recommendations with their hardware purchases. It’s like buying the latest 4K TV without purchasing a 4K HDMI cable and then saying that the picture isn’t that good.

If you’ve selected the right hardware for your warehouse, but you’re still not getting the “4K” experience you expected, your barcode scanners might not be the problem — it could be your wireless local area network (WLAN).

Disclaimer: We’re also not insisting you need to replace your existing WLAN equipment with our solution. We want to ensure that your ERP software, barcode scanners and printers are working at their full potential. We know from experience that your WLAN plays a vital role in your barcode scanning and business process automation success. Perhaps you’re just looking for help configuring and managing your network. We can connect a secure VLAN (virtual local area network) to your system and provide some of the same patch management, router configuration and security features we offer with our wireless products and services.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) — Answered

Who is this VLAN service for? This wireless strategy is for customers who currently have wireless infrastructures as well as customers who don’t.

Why do I need your VLAN service if I already have a wireless network?

This investment is less than $5,000 and you get enterprise access points that are configured for Global Shop on-premise or cloud; plus, remote access for EMS & Global Shop to expedite, support and overnight replacement hardware for the life of the product.

In almost all cases, our customers already have a network and wireless in their building. We use your current infrastructure and create a “private” network that will only allow the devices that are critical to keeping the shop floor / warehouse running at full speed. For a typical customer, this investment is less than $5,000 and you get enterprise access points that are configured for Global Shop on-premise or cloud; plus, remote access for EMS & Global Shop to expedite support, and overnight replacement hardware for the life of the product.

Customers tell us that the best part of this is what doesn’t happen. It’s the support call that’s handled on the first call in just a few minutes compared to a lengthy investigation involving IT support, software support, and hardware support.

To figure the ROI on this investment, consider how much it costs your company when your shop floor production stops.

To give you an idea of some of the wireless networking-related issues we’ve helped other clients resolve, here are the top five that hamper user productivity and cause other problems.

#1 — Dead Spots If you’ve ever tried making a cellphone call in a remote area, you’re familiar with the annoyance of a weak signal — difficulty hearing the other person, only catching parts of the conversation, dropped calls, etc. Users can experience similar problems with their WiFi connected devices in the warehouse if their device is too far away from an access point (AP) or something is blocking the signal. Not only does voice communication become frustrating, sending and receiving data slows to a halt, and it can seem as if the device isn’t operating correctly.

The best way to eliminate dead spots is by performing a wireless site survey, which entails a combination of gathering information about the building square footage and identifying potential obstacles such as steel racks, concrete walls, neighboring WiFi networks, wireless security cameras, etc. The survey also includes an assessment to determine radio frequency (RF) behavior in a specific environment before selecting and implementing APs and wireless controllers.

At EMS Barcode Solutions, we use tools from Cisco Meraki to perform a virtual site survey before making any recommendations, which gives us a very high success rate (95%-plus) for wireless AP deployments. Unlike other providers that charge $1,500 (minimum) for this service, we offer it for free because we know how important it is for our customers. In many instances, we’re able to provide our clients with superior wireless coverage using fewer APs than they would have selected if they skipped the survey and tried to guess how much equipment they needed.

#2 — Dropped User Sessions After the site survey, the next most likely cause of inadequate WiFi performance is due to dropped connections between access points. This problem is a tell-tale sign of a low-end wireless router, which isn’t designed for access point hopping in a large environment. Enterprise-grade gear like Meraki, on the other hand, is equipped with mesh technology, which creates an interconnected cloud among the access points and operates as a single network. When one node can no longer operate, the rest of the nodes can still communicate with one another, directly or through one or more intermediate nodes.

#3 — Inadequate Bandwidth This next problem requires a two-step solution. First, you need to determine how much bandwidth is available. And then you need to determine how much bandwidth is consumed when the network is under full utilization (e.g., multiple users are accessing the network simultaneously). If the two numbers are too close, it’s necessary to allocate additional bandwidth. However, that’s not always the solution. In some instances, non-work-related activities are the culprit. For example, if workers use their mobile devices to stream podcasts or YouTube videos, it can eat up a lot of