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Making the business case for wireless

The real-world benefi ts of wireless local area networking can be seen in almost every industry, fi nds Martin Poppelaars. Here he highlights a few examples


ompanies in just about every industry are looking to wireless technology to connect serial devices and avoid the

high cost of installing cable. Low-cost wireless links reduce installation and maintenance costs and provide mobility. However, designing an eff ective wireless networking solution requires an understanding of today’s complex wireless technologies, their benefi ts, and their trade-off s. With wireless technologies becoming increas-

ingly pervasive in the marketplace, companies may be looking to these as a key business driver for 2012. But before any investment is made, it’s important to take stock of the reasons for your businesses to go wireless in the fi rst place. What technologies are currently available, where are they used, and what concrete benefi ts do they bring? In exploring this, the true value of wire- less for your business can de determined, and the right purchase can be made.

Less cable, less cost Local Area Networks (LANs) run on wire ca- ble. Wire is expensive to install and diffi cult to reconfi gure for changes in the production en- vironment. It does not allow for mobility, and there are certain places it simply cannot go. For

About the author

Martin Poppelaars is vice president for EMEA sales at Lantronix. Founded in 1989 and headquartered in Irvine, California, Lantronix also has a presence

in Europe, Japan, the Asia-Pacifi c region, Latin America and Australia It describes itself as a global leader in secure communication technologies that simplify remote access, management, and control of virtually any electronic device, regardless of location


instance, running cable throughout a factory fl oor is extremely diffi cult if not impossible. Because of these limitations, WLANs (wireless LANs) have become a hot commodity, revo- lutionizing the way we work and do business today. Data applications running over wireless net-

works can be found everywhere in our daily lives. T ey are particularly attractive to indus- tries where certain functions are diffi cult to perform because of large areas, harsh operating conditions, or other restrictions. For example, wireless applications are ideally suited for phar- maceutical manufacturing applications, where an ultra-clean environment is required to moni- tor, control and confi gure equipment. T e real-world benefi ts of wireless, however,

can be seen across almost every industry. Some specifi c examples are described here.

Healthcare T e medical and healthcare industries are ag- gressively seeking productivity gains as a result of the current nursing and doctor shortage. With this situation expected to worsen as baby- boomers age and require more care, an increas- ing number of medical and healthcare indus- tries are modifying their processes by building convincing wireless return-on-investment models. Use of computer-based physician order entry and bar-code scanning for medications is expected to expand over the next few years and wireless communications networks are essential to their success. As public awareness of medical mistakes be-

comes more widespread, wireless applications are also becoming a key component in improv- ing accuracy and quality of care in hospitals. Now hospital emergency-room doctors can ex- amine a seriously injured patient, order x-rays, have the patient transferred to surgery, and re- ceive the x-rays electronically in the operating room. In addition, physicians can remotely check a

patient’s status, test results, medication sched- ules, or other information using on up-to-date

entries made by nurses on their rounds. Quality of care improves dramatically as patient infor- mation is more accessible wirelessly and as more accurate information is recorded by immediate record keeping.

Retail Retailers work in increasingly competitive envi- ronments, and as a result, are seeking ways to improve productivity, reduce costs, and gen- erate incremental revenue. WLANs and the applications that run over them off er proven solutions. Popular examples include multime- dia kiosks and self-service displays that employ audio, video, animation, and graphics to run point of sale (POS) and information applica- tions. By improving the timeliness and fl ow of information, these wireless solutions lead to bet- ter overall customer satisfaction and increased profi tability. A major music store, for example, has set up

wireless kiosks that provide real-time stream- ing of music videos, seasonal fashion displays, ticket-selling services, local web access, on-line music sampling, and other content residing on a video server. In the future, retailers will be able to install

RFID (radio frequency identifi cation device) readers into their store shelves. With these read- ers, retailers will have the capability to detect when the shelves are empty and need to be re- stocked – all via wireless communication.

Transport Before wireless, checking in a rental car was a lengthy procedure that took far too long. In ad- dition, the mass of paperwork that had to be manually entered on a daily basis was getting out of control. Worse still, returned vehicles would stay on the premises for hours before being able to be turned around and re-rented. T ese companies needed a real-time solution to help improve their rental-return process, and WLANs are allowing them to accomplish stra- tegic business goals in new and innovative ways. For example, to reduce the cost of vehicle

LAND mobile November 2011

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