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Mesh Networks Bolster Asset- and People-Tracking 

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The advent of wireless connectivity has brought about a remarkable shift in how we interact with the world around us. The development of 4G and 5G cellular networks has further expanded the availability and reliability of wireless connectivity, enabling people and organizations to stay better connected at faster speeds. Advanced wireless mesh networking—a type of computer network architecture in which a set of nodes (or devices) interlink and relay data to one another to establish a wireless communication path for other devices—has been a game-changer in industrial and material handling settings. 

Bernard Taliaferro (Source: Rajant)

In large outdoor settings, deploying a mesh network creates, just like inside a mesh network-enhanced warehouse, a decentralized and “self-healing” digital ecosystem of connectivity. This allows first responders to still receive signal transmissions, even if some of the nodes establishing the network have been burned in a fire or dislocated by a flood. Here are some of the ways that advancements, particularly in wireless mesh networks, have accelerated the modernization of industrial spaces, as well as public safety.

Updating the warehouse’s digital ecosystem

Advanced wireless mesh networks provide reliability and safety for the modern warehouse. Traditional warehouse wireless networks can suffer from signal interference and dead zones, especially in expansive indoor spaces. Mesh networks can provide more reliable connectivity by using multiple nodes across a large area to relay data, ensuring that there is always a path for data transmission. Walls, metal racks and large vehicles can often interrupt a wireless signal due to the size or material blocking the transmitted waves. As a result of nodes placed throughout a warehouse or factory, this prevents all the shopfloor manager’s “eggs being placed into one basket” because there are multiple points of contact and routes for a wireless signal to reach its end destination.

Because advanced wireless mesh networks use multiple nodes to relay data, they can be more resilient in the event of device failure. If one node goes down, the network can automatically reroute data through another series of nodes, ensuring that connectivity is maintained. Mesh networks are also cost-effective because they require less infrastructure and occupy minimal space. Mesh networks can be used to track assets, such as inventory, equipment, personnel and vehicles in real-time. These communications provide an accurate and up-to-date picture of the location and movement of each asset, which can help improve logistical gaps, inventory management and safety. The network also allows for simplified control of automated guided vehicles (AGVs), which can be used to transport products and materials around warehouses. 

Technologically strengthening public safety efforts

Wireless connectivity is playing an increasingly important role in improving public safety efforts during and following natural disasters. 

Mesh networks are deployed to bolster early warning systems for earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and floods. These systems can detect changes in environmental conditions and alert authorities and the public to potential hazards, giving first responders and local officials adequate time to take preventive measures.

During a natural disaster, wireless connectivity is crucial for emergency communication between first responders, public safety officials and local citizens. Advanced wireless mesh networks allow for more effortless remote assistance to people in disaster-stricken areas. By connecting sensors and cameras to the mesh, search and rescue teams can gather real-time data about the disaster area and quickly locate survivors needing assistance. After the disaster has ended, the ability to rescue isolated or distressed people becomes imperative. This is especially crucial in areas that struggle with broadband connectivity, such as the communities in rural Appalachia. 

Overall, mesh networks are a valuable tool. They improve public safety efforts during and after natural disasters, provide real-time data, emergency communication, remote assistance and other benefits that can help save lives and minimize damage.

Continuing to aim higher for wireless connectivity

The power of wireless connectivity is shifting the conversation of several industries in many ways. 

By enabling new levels of consistency and reliability with critical communications, it has transformed not only supply chains by making possible the modern warehouse but also the way we respond to crises and natural disasters. 

In both settings, this technology promotes the efficiency of people carrying out their duties while prioritizing the safety of everyone involved. 

Mesh networks are just one example of how wireless connectivity is being leveraged to provide greater reliability, resiliency and efficiency in industrial and public safety settings. As we continue to push the boundaries of wireless technology, we can expect even more innovative solutions that will enhance our ability to connect, communicate and collaborate in ways we never before imagined. 

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