It’s possible to achieve Industrial wireless sensor network and Wi-Fi assurance with any diligently designed wireless network.
Wi-Fi Assurance Requires Great Project Management
It’s IP Assurance (IPA)’s unique Project Management office and experience that sets our company apart from our competitors. It is unique because our PMI certified project managers are also wireless engineers! At other companies, engineers operate without a phased approach, lessons learned, KPIs and other project management support. But at IP Assurance, that’s how we ensure our clients have a great experience every-single-time. The goal is for our customers to be successful and to utilize their Wi-Fi and Industrial wireless sensor networks fully without issues during the useful life of that wireless network.
What is Wi-Fi Assurance?
Assurance is another word for reliability. No wireless network will ever be perfect. Our advice is to run from any consultant that encourages buyers to believe so. The goal is to provide assurance that the wireless network will do what it was designed to do. The tricky part with Wi-Fi, or any type of wireless, is determining how it will be used and where the coverage will be required.
We Have An Automated Wi-Fi Tool – Why Do We Need Another Wireless Project?
Automated tools are great for operating a wireless network to provide Wi-Fi assurance. They use existing fixed access points to learn and report issues. And therein lies the problem – fixed and existing access points.
Existing access points suffer from longevity issues. That is, all wireless technology is exposed to Cooper’s law which drives new technology and improvements on a continuous 30-month cycle since 1895. Read more about Cooper’s law here. That fancy new wireless AP will have a new model roughly every 3 years and be out of support in 5 to 7 years. In roughly 10 years it will be irrelevant.
And because the APs are fixed, the automated tool won’t be able to “see” into new areas because the APs are fixed. This could be partially mitigated by having monitoring from the client devices but all this data will still be subject to considerable debate about what it might mean since client Wi-Fi device stacks are infamously unreliable in their implementations.
What this all comes down to is this: Are the business needs going to change within a 5-10 year period? It’s highly likely that they will. And these automated tools are not useful if business needs change. They will not address:
- Need for new/multiple wireless protocols at the access layer (e.g. private LTE vs sensor networks vs Wi-Fi)
- Benefits of new models of APs that deliver enhanced performance and capacity
- Coverage of new areas
- Need for serving additional density of devices (e.g. growth from the Internet of Things)
Periodic projects are needed to have Wi-Fi assurance that meet changing business needs .
Wi-Fi Assurance Process
The first thing we do before we start engineering is to help define or fine-tune a client’s requirements. This is critical to ensure we can provide Wi-Fi assurance (meet a reliable delivery of service) for the client’s requirements. As is often the case, the client has many internal stakeholders so we provide a list of questions for the client to consider when drafting wireless requirements. This list is the result of experience designing wireless installations at hundreds of industrial, manufacturing and mining sites. It is pretty easy to miss some internal stakeholders when designing wireless networks. This can cause situations where Wi-Fi assurance can’t be provided with the initial delivery of the wireless network. IP Assurance’s process helps the client to identify all of the appropriate stakeholders.
IPA also includes a low-cost value-add architectural standards review. Having architectural standards is as critical as defining the scope and requirements. So, if a client is missing any, IPA will suggest standards and explain their impact and business case value.
IPA then conducts a site survey. To survey large areas in a reasonable amount of time, we use a proprietary survey method. For example, this method can survey large areas (plants of a million square feet and up) effectively in a reasonable amount of time (usually within one week). The quality of the maps obtained is a key success factor. The level of detail and the clarity of the maps directly relates to the quality of the final output. Following the survey, we conduct a technical review with the internal stakeholders. After technical review signed off, IPA moves to the next phase. IPA develops a bill of materials for the client to use the equipment vendor of their choice.
Construction and Validation
Clients typically use a local installer for construction. IPA is happy to provide installation oversight or IPA can manage the entire construction project, it all depends on what the client wants. IPA optionally can do a field acceptance test (FAT) when the equipment arrives. This test ensures the equipment operates as expected before it is installed into hard to reach or out of the way places. After construction, IPA conducts a remote pre-site acceptance test (SAT) audit. This to ensures construction was fully completed and all components of the system are online and ready.
Once construction is complete, IPA goes onsite for a Radio Frequency (RF) Validation and SAT. Our engineers tune and optimize the system and measure the real-world results against the original design. Clients receive a final report which includes a heatmap and any identified issues that were out of the scope of the project. Clients also optionally have their Network Monitoring System (NMS) configured ready for hand off to operations. For post-project support, IPA has the capability to operate remotely via their Remote Managed Services (RMS) offering.
Wi-Fi Assurance Engineers
IPA engineers are battle tested – literally. Many of IPA’s engineers installed and maintained wireless assurance for the USA’s military in Afghanistan and other conflicts. During these tours our engineers encountered conditions that required them to push the wireless systems past their designed operating parameters. IPA’s head engineer, Patrick Conlan, even authored a book entitled Cisco Network Professional’s Advanced Internetworking Guide (CCNP Series). Using his background as a former Wireless training instruction, Patrick ensures that every engineer working on our team has the support they need to deliver successfully to clients. What’s more, Patrick is happy to train our engineering team in whatever they need to do to operate and provide Wi-Fi assurance on a daily basis.
Wi-Fi Assurance Means Happy Clients and Repeat Business
Because Industrial business and requirements often change, many of our customers have us back to re-tune, build out new areas of the plant or make the wireless system ready for new technology (e.g. autonomous vehicles, location tracking, augmented reality, etc.). That’s the kind of trust IP Assurance has built in our business of providing Industrial wireless sensor networks and Wi-Fi assurance.
About IP Assurance
IP Assurance has engineering experience with many vendor networks including Cisco, Emerson, Honeywell, Aruba, Redline, Cambium, Mist and many others. In addition, we have extensive experience in Real-Time Location Services (RTLS) with vendor systems including AeroScout and Vuteur. Thinking of exploring private LTE? From the access layer to the core, IPA has customers covered. IPA provides this expertise with a global team that has successfully executed projects throughout the world. Find out more about us.
IP Assurance | Committed to designing and integrating smart infrastructure.