While smarter devices and software are automating many of the former labor-intensive tasks required to implement wireless networks, there are still some crucial duties that must be carried out establish and maintain them:
- Secure support from management, administrative, accounting and information technology (IT), and make certain they’re informed about operations technology (OT) challenges, and how wireless can help. Seek out internal, multi-disciplinary supporters and experienced external advisors, such as system integrators.
- Find, document, assess and audit components, software and networks used by each process application, determine physical obstacles to possible wireless communications, and seek optimal locations for wireless access points.
- Detail types of data generated by operations and the facility, including what types of networking are employed, if there’s any existing wireless, and what information pain points or bottlenecks might be present. Learn about the speed, distance, bandwidth and data processing capabilities and limits of the primary wireless technologies, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 4G and 5G cellular and satellite. Permit individual data needs, available devices, process settings, facility and overall environment to guide and determine which wireless technology is most appropriate.
- Investigate which switches and links operations equipment may need to interface with the new wireless network, decide if its wireless components can use batteries or will need local power, and perform a radio frequency (RF) site assessment to show if any added antennas, access points, nodes or other devices are needed.
- Decide what type of cybersecurity the wireless network may need, and align it with the facility and organization’s overall policies and procedures for preventing cyber-intrusions and attacks.
- Determine expenses and cost-effectiveness of planned wireless network’s hardware, software, labor and other resources.
- Conduct in-the-field evaluations of proposed wireless devices, software and network topology to be certain they’ll operate and can be maintained as expected.
- Implement new wireless network, track its activity and results, conduct routine benchmarking and maintenance, and revise or add new capabilities and operational requirements change.