linkedin pixel icon

Solution Notes

Indoor Uncarpeted Enterprise – Ramen Differentiation

July 16, 2024

Written by

Share

Providing reliable and secure wireless coverage indoors in an uncarpeted enterprise (warehouse, distribution center, and manufacturing) is very challenging. Solutions based on traditional Wi-Fi equipment and planning methods perform poorly due to the constantly changing RF environment and floor layout. Ramen has SOLVED this problem! Our customers have built a future-proof wireless environment for their uncarpeted enterprise using Ramen Uncarpeted NaaS (Private 5G + Wi-Fi on one platform).

Let us visualize and meditate for a moment on how a factory floor, a warehouse or a large distribution center looks. Tall ceilings. Metal doors opening and closing. High metal shelves, un-occupied one moment and stacked to the ceiling a few minutes later. Forklifts moving around, floor workers scanning asset tags, conveyor belts carrying goods from one phase of processing to another. 

Pause. 

Take one more moment to visualize how it looked 5 years ago. How it will look tomorrow. 

The connectivity requirements of the ‘indoor uncarpeted enterprise’ are clear. 

Mobility is a Must

Modern workflows mandate just-in-time asset and state tracking for higher efficiency and reduced operational cost. For an ‘Uncarpeted’ enterprise, this information is ‘mission critical,’ demanding ubiquitous reliable connectivity between the warehouse management/ERP systems and the RFID scanners, conveyor belts, stocking shelves. 

Running cables on the ground is not only a safety hazard in a factory floor, but it also creates a spaghetti of wires given the large number of devices that need connectivity. 

Compatibility – Backward and forward

Investment in a warehouse or a factory is for the long term. Much longer term than for a carpeted enterprise. With increased digitization aiding in the operational efficiency of a warehouse or a factory floor, it is quite common to see 3 to 4 generations of technology in one warehouse. In our experience, we have found 20-year old scan guns that support 802.11a/b ONLY existing side by side with brand-new models that support Wi-Fi 6E and 5G. 

The show on the floor must go on! Any new technology that pushes digitization needs to respect the old technology and manage the transition without disrupting any business workflows. 

Uncompromising Reliability and Security

End-to-end workflows (e.g., asset tracking with current location for the goods stored on shelves in a warehouse) break if one leg of the information goes missing. It pushes the workflows back to the days of a ‘pencil and a paper-clipboard.’ 

Alarms not conveyed or hazardous spills not reported in time to the control room, can be disastrous. 

Technical Challenges

Making wireless networks work flawlessly inside a warehouse or a factory is less of a ‘new technology creation problem’ and more of a ‘customization’ problem. Existing wireless technologies have umpteen knobs and associated behaviors. They are complex in nature requiring the tuning of multiple variables to achieve the best fit.

Radio Propagation is the biggest variable!! 

Planning Challenges

Planning wireless connectivity in a warehouse indoor facility is a tough challenge. Tall ceilings, metal everywhere, objects made of various materials in perpetual motion. There is no static environment to optimize wireless coverage. 

The planning (a.k.a. site survey) for these facilities is not a one-time thing. It must be a continuous process, with a feedback loop to tweak wireless knobs and adapt to changes in real time. 

Reliability and Security

Simply overpopulating Access Points and blasting at max power levels inside a warehouse makes it worse. Interference creates data flow issues. Roaming becomes unpredictable. 

With most workplaces nowadays allowing a mix of mission-critical and other tasks (such as leisure browsing or a web app on a tablet), it is important to figure out what data is critical deserving of the highest levels of security and reliable connectivity.

Ramen Uncarpeted NaaS (Network as a service) – Optimized for ‘Indoor Uncarpeted Enterprise’ 

Ramen has done extensive research to tweak and tune wireless technologies to work optimally to be able to provide rigorous Service Level guarantees in these environments. 

Mix and Match

Each wireless technology (Wi-Fi 6, 7, Private-Cellular (4G/5G), p2p links) has different bands of operation. The Ramen solution mixes and matches these technologies together and steers traffic to the right lanes (bands) to guarantee the right SLA while utilizing the entire spectrum. These decisions are made by the Ramen solution in real time. Even for a single client device, some application data may be sent over Wi-Fi while other application payloads use private cellular. 

The Ramen solution is unique in planning for a mixed radio environment including the use of steerable beams. This allows the use of more channels, support for different applications and even failover for higher reliability. 

Seamless mobility

Innovative technology developed by Ramen helps client devices to seamlessly roam between different radio environments across different wireless tech stacks. From Wi-Fi to LTE to 5G, without losing connectivity at the application layer. This Ramen technology goes hand in hand with the nature of the mixed radio environment.

Continuous monitoring and Adaptive Planning

Ramen sensors collect data continuously about the radio environment. The telemetry captures the ‘experience’ of each application on each device and feeds it to the backend intelligence running on the cloud/edge. Adjusting power-levels, changing channel allocation, turning radios on/off, are some of the actions that the Ramen cloud management takes to keep the radio planning up to date. 

The key KPI being tracked is ‘Serviceability’ (user experience) from the client device’s point of view at a given location. If the SLA with respect to the user experience drops below an acceptable threshold, the corrective process gets in to action.

A radio signal-heatmap is a traditional way of measuring coverage. Ramen, in contrast, uses ‘activity-heatmap’ (where users operate, what time of the day etc.) and ‘experience-heatmap’. 

This allows Ramen to solve the problems at the user experience and operational level. 

The other aspect of ‘adaptive planning’ is keeping up with the overall change in usage. Especially as an organization grows, the volume of operations increase. Ramen has on-demand capacity augmentation to handle hyper growth of an organization without requiring disruptive on-premises infrastructure changes.

Operational Insight

There is a gold mine of Operational Intelligence that comes out of network and application data. Productivity of floor workers, usage of the factory floor and capital assets etc.

Ramen has the capability to provide rich operational analytics for physical safety and event alerting. 

Operational Analytics and intelligence are very important to a line of business. The buck does not stop at providing an SLA alone. 

Device Visibility and management

The Ramen solution integrates with popular MDMs and allows them to work over-the-top; additionally, in many greenfield situations, Ramen has its own lite-weight MDM designed to work with client devices on discovery, scan and enroll process. Whether the device supports Wi-Fi only, Wi-Fi+LTE, LTE-only, LTE+5G, etc. the Ramen MDM will uniquely identify it an apply the appropriate eSIM life cycle management. 

Security and Compliance

The Ramen solution does an automated periodic penetration-test on its infrastructure elements. 

A unique auto-lock feature changes the access control of each network element to encrypted keys which are only accessible to Ramen secure APIs and stored in vaults in cloud. Any ‘operational’ Ramen infrastructure element will never have a default ‘admin/admin’ access. 

At the same time, for ease of partner usage and equipment migration between sites, if any infrastructure element is moved out of a deployed / operational list, it reverts to factory access passwords. 

These capabilities combined with 100% audit logging and dynamic firewalling allows the Ramen solution to be completely isolated in its own secure environment. 

Customers can download the SoC2 and PCI-DSS compliance reports for their Ramen solution with a single click of a button!

Compatibility

Some NaaS vendors require a forklift upgrade – getting the benefit of their SLA requires deploying their gear end to end. In other words, the entire enterprise network infrastructure needs to be replaced. 

Ramen is sensitive to the need for co-existence with the legacy enterprise network and builds its solution to run on top of the existing networks, adopting the legacy enterprise policies; while maintaining a clear SLA over the region where Ramen is deployed.

Ramen’s solution has broad protocol compatibility at the access authentication layer. It is compatible with many legacy IdPs, ADs and Radio / Diameter tools. The Ramen solution can also re-use enterprise private DHCP, DNS and AD services. 

The application traffic meant for Ramen is securely tunneled to Datapath elements either on-prem or in SOC2 certified public cloud gateways. 

To view the video, please fill in the following information.

To read this blog, please fill in the following information.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
email world icon

Care to Learn More?

Explore all of the ways Ramen can benefit your business. Reach out to learn more.

Contact Us