When properly implemented, supply chain automation robotics have proven to significantly reduce process times while simultaneously increasing profit margins. Seeking to eliminate common robotics orchestration and control missteps, a major manufacturer of supply chain robotics solutions recently invested in a Celona private LTE/5G network. Let’s learn what this robotics company discovered when it comes to the reliability and performance advantages of a Celona network.
Warehouse automation and wireless connectivity challenges
Wirelessly communicating with autonomous mobile robots that move through warehouse stacks at up to 25 mph can be a challenge for any wireless network. For these robotic systems to operate at peak performance, they require constant communication between mobile devices roaming the warehouse isles and the centralized orchestration platform that delivers operational instructions to the robots.
Common wireless connectivity challenges in this robotics manufacturer’s system included the ability of fast roaming between access points (APs), eliminating the spectrum interference, preventing inconsistent network latencies and removing unpredictable wireless coverage gaps.
To counteract these deficiencies, the robotics system manufacturer was forced to devise a legacy wireless infrastructure comprised of densely deployed access points and external antennas – which were deployed in precise locations to provide the best coverage for continuous communication and low-latency needs.
While the deployment of a highly-tuned infrastructure was certainly one option for the warehouse robotics system manufacturer, the high AP density requirement and continuous spectrum adjustments meant higher expenditures for every warehouse automation project. Ultimately, these cost and ongoing support complexities lead the robotics system architects to seek an alternative that was better suited for their specific use-case.
Celona’s private mobile network delivers a superior option
Finding a cost-effective and reliable wireless connectivity technology platform is no easy task, especially when deployed in highly-demanding environments such as warehouses. However, the robotics manufacturer found that a Celona-powered private LTE or 5G network can alleviate most of those challenges.
Solution architects discovered that with a Celona private mobile network, they could reduce the number of access points significantly. In addition, thorough tests showed the following performance and operational benefits:
- major reduction in network latency for robot telemetry and remote control traffic,
- significantly improved roaming times for robots as they move between APs,
- fewer dead spots or areas with poor signal strength,
- reduction in wireless network maintenance and adjustments.
While these results may be surprising to some, they were fully expected by everyone at Celona. We understand that operating a private mobile network in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum combined with performance enhancing features of the Celona platform translates into wireless infrastructures that can function well -- even in the most extreme environments. Here’s why:
- CBRS based private LTE networks operate in a centrally coordinated frequency spectrum model as opposed to unlicensed spectrum models where neighbor interference is inevitable. This means that a Celona private mobile network will operate in frequencies that are free from any external interference – giving users and devices a wireless infrastructure that is maintenance free.
- Celona uses patent-pending MicroSlicing™ technology to identify mission-critical traffic flows and prioritizes them based on guaranteed bandwidth, latency and jitter requirements. In this case, the warehouse robotics system required relatively little bandwidth – yet demanded strict latency and jitter numbers to achieve optimal performance. The Celona platform can be used to quickly apply strict quality of service (QoS) policy to the various robotics communications that guarantee that the appropriate network service levels for throughput, latency and packet error rate are being met.
- Because private mobile networks can leverage higher-powered radios with more sensitive signal strength “hearing” capabilities of client devices down to -110 dBm, a Celona network requires fewer access points, cabling and switching infrastructure. Thus, resulting in a faster return on investment.
It starts with the network
If process automation robotics are to be an integral part of your supply chain business plan with the goal of two- to three-times in cost/performance efficiency gains, success starts and ends with the right wireless network to improve your digital operations.
When it comes to challenging wireless environments such as manufacturing plants, warehouses and inbound/outbound logistics facilities, a Celona private 5G/LTE network can be designed to reduce many of the implementation and ongoing maintenance costs. It can also reduce the risk of automation process slowdowns caused by wireless connectivity challenges.
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