Wireless CMMS: Next-Generation Tool
Part 5: CMMS: Wireless Connectivity an Issue
CMMS: Wireless Connectivity an Issue
By Kris Bagadia - March 2010 - Software
Wireless connectivity raises a few concerns — namely, cost, security, and coverage. Many institutions become frustrated when trying to establish a completely wireless campus. The cost of complete coverage can mount quickly as departments install special equipment to bring coverage to areas such as basements and mechanical rooms.
While 100 percent coverage sounds ideal, it is not necessary in most cases. The cost difference between 100 percent and 90 percent coverage is significant, while the difference in benefits is minimal.
Managers can develop a mobile CMMS solution with the goal of functionality when not connected. In that case, 90 percent coverage is more than enough. In this scenario, the device still will be able to function when not connected, meaning a technician still can take readings, record data, and perform other essential tasks, then simply upload the data once connected.
The rule of thumb is to plan a mobile solution by thinking about the technicians using the hand-held device every day, focusing on the features and functions that will make it most useful to them.
By considering the input from individuals at all levels of the organization, managers can lay a solid foundation on which a mobile CMMS solution not only will improve efficiency but will pay for itself.
Kris Bagadia — is a consultant, an educator, and president of PEAK Industrial Solutions LLC.
Pieces of the CMMS Puzzle
Wireless computerized maintenance management systems consist of three primary components: software, hardware, and the network.
Software provides hand-held devices with the capability to perform certain tasks, such as interfacing with a database, ordering parts, and receiving work orders.
Hardware is the physical device itself — the smart phone or a more sophisticated hand-held device with increased functionality and extreme durability.
The network is the means by which the wireless devices transmit data. The standard among most operations is a Wi-Fi connection because it can handle high levels of data traffic and adaptable coverage.
— Kris Bagadia
jduffy wrote re: CMMS: Wireless Connectivity an Issue
on 1/19/2011 7:14:02 PM
Yes, total wireless coverage is somewhat of a white whale in most large facilities. We've seen other difficulties in getting 100% coverage such as large scale machinery interfering with the wireless frequencies and conversely the wireless repeaters needing to be deactivated in certain areas as they can cause interference with other sensitive equipment.
Other risks to systems that rely on a constant wireless network are latency and battery life. When a mobile device moves throughout a facility, it will be switching to the nearest access points and continuously seeking out the next connection point. This will slow the ability for the software to operate and will quickly drain the battery in the unit, which could require multiple battery swaps, or charges in a single shift.
Our mobile CMMS system uses synchronization to allow the Technician to work offline for their entire shift or longer if necessary. The mobile device is then synchronized with the main database through a USB cable connected to a PC that maintains a wired network connection.