Mission Critical Wireless: What’s the Cost of Failure?

Date November 11, 2014 Author Comments Leave your thoughts

Mission Critical Wireless Failure

A friend of mine was grumbling the other day about the cost of network failures to his business and how quickly, if equipment fails, people start wandering around wondering what to do! 

It set me thinking about what ‘mission critical’ really means and what we do in the wireless world to meet the demands of customers where their networks are truly mission critical and what the consequences of failures can be

It’s easy to see within the healthcare community that equipment failures really can be life or death events; many won’t be but you need to plan for the one in a thousand (perhaps) times where the worst does happen.  In that sense, the cost of failure is immeasurable and isn’t down to a simple, economics based business decision.

But what of other businesses? Warehousing for example…

In a warehouse or distribution centre, for example, 2D and 3D barcode scanners rely on ubiquitous coverage in the warehouse to be able to scan goods in to the warehouse for stocking and out of the warehouse on to trucks for onward delivery.

Some time ago, a warehouse manager commented to me that with their ‘just-in-time’ deliveries and despatches, if the wireless failed (or performed badly) for just a couple of hours, he could have 100 pallets of goods in the yard that he didn’t know what to do with – the delivery trucks just wanted to offload and leave.  Worse, he’d have built up a queue of trucks waiting to load and take goods away.

For him, this does turn into a straightforward economic decision; if the cost of building resilience into his wireless network is lower than the cost of failure, which could range from damage to goods left outside to penalties for late deliveries to his customers, then it is a worthwhile investment.

The cost of failure is, of course, as diverse as the industries we work in.  For a production line, it’s lost production; for a retailer, it could be empty shelves and disappointed customers; for a general business environment, project delays or, perhaps, not getting that tender response out on time.  Whatever the business or detailed cost of failure, the chances are that there will be knock-on effects that could continue for some time.

But building a resilient wireless network is hard and expensive, yes?  No, not really. 

As ever, it all comes down to understanding the needs; is it maximum coverage, high capacity, large numbers of client devices, aggressive environments…? And then add 24/7 availability.  Once the needs are fully defined, it’s a well understood process to design the network to meet those needs, get it properly installed and configured, and then commissioned and handed over to a live environment.  Not forgetting, of course, ongoing support and maintenance.

Oh, and the expensive tag?  If anyone remembers the days when Quality Management Systems were beginning to become ‘de rigueur’, then the phrase ‘Quality is Free’ might spring to mind.  The point being that, if the cost of poor quality is higher than the cost of building a Quality Management System to improve it, then it’s a good investment.

It’s just the same here – if the cost of building resilience is lower than the cost of failure then it’s not expensive.

In fact, I’d go further than that and say that it’s actually pretty darn cheap!

To find out more about Mission Critical Wireless and how we can help to save you and your business both time and money, contact our technical team info@ensign-net.co.uk / 01929 556 553

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Author Ian Price

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