RealTime IT News

WiFires Gas Deployment

Local system integrator, Accucom, recently installed a Cisco wireless network for industrial gas supplier, Linde Gas. They claim WiFi was 50 percent cheaper than fibre.

The international gas company uses Symbol Palm Pilots to scan the bar codes on gas cylinders. But in the past this has taken a couple of days to collate.

Through the Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) solution, data can be transmitted back to head office in a matter of minutes.

Accucom installed Cisco Aironet 350 series access points and wireless bridges at each of Linde Gas' six warehouse and distribution centres across Australia. The solution is based on the 802.11b standard.

Linde Gas Australia is a subsidiary of German based Linde Gas, a global gas supplier that operates in more than 50 countries, serving 1.5 million customers.

The Cisco Aironet Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) equipment is supported by Cisco 3600 and 800 series routers and interacts with other handheld communications devices used at Linde Gas. This allows storage, handling and transport of gas cylinders to be tracked more efficiently as they are transported across Australia.

Staff can use the Symbol devices, which have built-in bar code scanners, to log information from the gas cylinders.

Accucom rolled out the bridges between two warehouses using an 11Mb/sec wireless connection.

Founded in 1988 as Sarkis Systems Support, Accucom Systems Integration began providing technical services for medium to larger companies following the name change. The company focus on four key products from Cisco, Compaq, Novell, and Microsoft.

Despite the lack of teething problems in the deployment, Anthony Sarkis, Accucom solutions manager, says the physical environment presented a unique challenge.

"Cylinders are located in metal sheds," he explains, "so we were concerned that the signals might be bouncing around. We did an extensive site survey to find the right antennas."

Accucom selected a combination of waveguide, omni-directional, and patch antennas to overcome those problems.

Sarkis admits that pushed up the price but it was still significantly cheaper than fibre.

Shamsul Arefin, Linde Gas network administrator, points to security as the biggest challenge.

He says it was a trade off between ensuring the full functionality of wireless while maintaining a secure environment. "Security measures put in place are more complex for the user," Arefin explains. "Logging into the wired network has different authentication procedures."

Security measures include Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), the standard inbuilt in 802.11, and Media Access Control (MAC) addressing. They will soon implement a system whereby users are authenticated in the company's main system.

However, the benefits outweigh those challenges.

Arefin says they have achieved a saving of 50 percent straight away, by comparison to fibre.

He says the move to wireless communications six months ago has already delivered logistical efficiencies in stock control, scheduling and transportation.

The wireless solution also eliminates the need to install optical cabling to link two warehouses at the same site. This cost saving is achieved through the deployment of the Cisco Aironet 350 series wireless bridge, which delivers throughput of 11Mb/sec from building to building.

Sarkis concludes, "as a result of the installation of wireless, the mobility and fluidity of the business now extends to warehouse managers, office staff and truck drivers. This contributes to sizable efficiency gains."

Linde Gas is also planning other wireless deployments later in the year.

Reprinted from australia.internet.com.