Working three times faster with wireless help

An industrial wireless network has revolutionised the working day for warehouse workers at the electronics manufacturer Elko.

“It's faster. It's easier. And it’s now more motivational to work than it was before,” says one of the workers who takes goods off the warehouse shelves at the electronics manufacturer Elko.

The work of moving goods from shelf to lorry has become easier for the people who sort goods for Elko. They now no longer have to keep track of which goods they have to retrieve, and where and when they have to do it. The workers are told this by a hand-held computer that they carry.

A computer calculates as effectively as possible when the workers have to take goods off the shelves. Messages about which goods are to be selected, when and how, are continuously sent to the wireless computers that the workers carry – as the workers go from one shelf to another.

Stacks of paper containing pick-lists have been replaced by simple, updated messages from a computer. The warehouse workers now pick out three times more goods during the day than they did before the management introduced this system. And it is an industrial wireless network – which conveys the calculations from the computer system to the computers that the warehouse workers have – that makes all this possible.

A powerful network produces the signals
The Elko warehouse contains a lot of steel and concrete. Corners and girders. And long distances. The signals from a traditional wireless network, like the ones commonly found in Norwegian homes, do not reach here. And if the signals do not do their job, the suppliers do not receive their goods – and Elko loses money. Operations depend on wireless signals that reach the site from a reliable wireless network – irrespective of the working conditions.

Elko has chosen to purchase this from the supplier Radiolinx. Roughly 20 powerful boxes hang from the ceiling beams in the production hall and transmit the wireless signals – regardless of any obstacles. They are industrial routers that can tolerate intensive use and last a very long time. The only reason for Elko replacing one of these boxes recently was that a worker drove into it with a lorry.

“In any case, we are very pleased with this system,” says Stig Nerland, who is a systems consultant at Elko.

“The routers are reliable and the system works. We save time and money. Regardless of whether we have to cut costs here in the production hall, we are not going to axe this system at any rate,” he says.

Facts about the solution:
- Wireless RLXIB-IHW radios from Prosoft Technology
- 10-15 radios
- The solution has been up and running since the start of 2007
- No down time
- Used for PDA stock removal, machinery inspections and general network access
- Usually one master and the remainder are repeaters
- Opportunity for WPA2-128bit AES encryption
- Self-healing technology
- Easy to set up using RadioLinx IH Browser
- Has ATEX zone 2 certification

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