Why Warehouse Networks Need Proactive Analytics

Many business operations and procedures depend on a strong wireless network.  Any issues, including but not limited to downtime, affect productivity and cost time and money to resolve. You can work with an automatic analytics solution that identifies issues before they occur, safeguarding your network and your business.

Wireless networks are resilient protocols, and they will continue providing efficient coverage, even when there are issues, as long as only a few client devices connect and demand service.  However, trouble arises when the network comes under high-demand, and suddenly, previously unknown issues surface.  Applications or devices might experience trouble connecting, sluggish response times, or exhibit other signs of degrading performance.  There could be inconsistent service throughout a warehouse or no service at all during certain time periods.  Depending on the scope of the problem, it could take hours to identify the exact cause.  Without proper identification, there can be no resolution, and this can mean an entire day’s productivity is thrown off, or worse.  In most businesses, that’s unacceptable.

What is the key to avoiding those situations? Working with an AI-based analytics solution to optimize the network and proactively resolve potential issues before they occur.  This will save you time and money, while improving productivity.

First, Target Complete Visibility

The first step in optimizing a network is to remove any mystery about its operations.  Only with complete, uninterrupted visibility, can IT quickly and proactively resolve issues before they affect employees.  To achieve this visibility, use an automatic analytics solution that:

  • Identifies all connected devices and individual device capabilities
  • Provides a detailed look at the health of all backend and frontend infrastructure
  • Identifies any nearby networks that could cause interference
  • Determines a baseline for normal network behavior
  • Delivers real-time insights
  • Alerts IT automatically if there are any suspected issues, and identifies the root cause – for example, if baseline network behavior abruptly changes, or if a device experiences interoperability issues after an update

It is possible to achieve these insights using manual methods, but it would require constant network monitoring on the part of IT staff, preventing them from focusing on other critical responsibilities.  This is because all networks, and especially those in warehouses where the physical environment routinely changes, are dynamic.  Any time a device is added or disconnected, or there’s a firmware update, or inventory, shelves, and pallets are moved around, the network is affected.  This means that complete visibility is only achieved with 24/7 monitoring. Therefore, the most efficient way to provide that monitoring is with an automatic solution.

Once the solution is installed, here are a few common issues that can be proactively addressed:

  • Ineffective AP placement: one of the benefits of complete visibility is that it works as an ongoing site survey.  As a warehouse’s layout changes, the automatic analytics solution ensures that APs are still providing the maximum level of coverage.  If there’s an issue, the solution will alert IT before employees are affected by any dead zones.
  • Mismatched power levels: the power level of all APs needs to match the send/receive capabilities of devices or they will not communicate
  • Outdated firmware on devices or APs – this can cause incompatibilities between technologies and affect device communication

Next, Schedule Network Testing

Another proactive solution is to schedule consistent network testing.  Networks can change even when no one is onsite, and many WiFi issues are intermittent, which makes them difficult to isolate and identify – unless analytics are captured 24/7.  An automatic testing solution can be used to schedule network tests to run every hour, every day, or at any other time interval, including overnight and on the weekends.  The solution should automatically alert IT to any failed tests and identify the reason for the failure.  With constant feedback on network health and performance, IT can greatly decrease the Mean-Time-to-Resolution (MTTR), preventing any downtime that could affect business operations.

A few common network tests include:

  • Ping test
  • Port scan
  • Speedtest
  • Load balancing
  • Application test
  • Device monitor test
  • iPerf
  • Security/vulnerability testing

Finally, Use Historical Analytics

While real-time analytics are incredibly valuable, historical analytics also play a large role in network optimization.  The ability to review network performance over the past day, week, or month enables IT to clearly see how network usage has changed, and where and how the network infrastructure needs to be upgraded to continue performing optimally.  This makes future-proofing the network easier and more budget friendly.

The End Result? Network Optimization

A WiFi network is a critical resource for any warehouse.  In today’s digital world, many standard procedures and operations depend on a wireless connection, and optimizing the network is an important part of both efficiently and effectively increasing and safeguarding productivity.  Work with an AI-based analytics solution that will proactively and automatically identify any possible issues before end users are affected to get the most seamless network experience and bid downtime a permanent goodbye.

Source: https://industrytoday.com/why-warehouse-networks-need-proactive-analytics/

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