As one of the largest package delivery and logistics companies in the world, one of our newest iBwave customers came to us wondering how our software could improve their existing process for deploying and managing their many Wi-Fi networks across thousands of their facilities around the world.
Here is the story.
From the start, it became clear that the biggest challenge this company was facing was the sheer number of sites they had to manage around the globe. With tens of thousands of facilities, all ranging in size, type and location, logistical and process challenges were proving to be costly.
The key challenges they had were:
- How to manage their thousands of Wi-Fi networks across many different locations in a more efficient and cost-effective way - in particular how to easily share all data & documentation in a central location
- How to collect cellular network data and Wi-Fi network data at the same time to eliminate the dependence on third party companies
- How to improve the quality of the network designs to reduce troubleshooting post-install
- How to reduce the time it takes to produce the required costing report
To solve these issues, this customer is using the iBwave Design Suite — a powerful combination of iBwave MObile Planner (our mobile app for surveying), iBwave Design (our powerful network design software), and iBwave Unity, our SaaS-based enhanced cloud solution that synchronizes all information and then allows you to monitor, manage and access all of your sites and documentation from one place.
To give you a quick high-level overview of how they all work together, here is a visual of how they interact with one another through the lifecycle of a Wi-Fi network design project from survey to design, deployment and maintenance.
Let's go through each of the key challenges to see specifically how they were resolved.
Maintaining All of Their Wi-Fi Networks Across Thousands of Sites
Managing multiple sites is a big challenge for many large Enterprise companies and this customer was no exception. With tens of thousands of facilities located across the United States, the biggest challenge was how to manage the design documentation in a single location to simplify the maintenance and troubleshooting of the network for the ‘Corporate Technical Support Group’ technicians located at the facilities across the globe.
With their previous set of tools, survey and design documentation and reports were not centralized in a place where the technicians at the different facilities could access them when troubleshooting or validating a network’s performance. There was also the issue of having to ship a device with dongle licensing out to the facilities whenever a troubleshooting issue arose—often a time consuming and expensive cost.
To solve these issues, the powerful combination of iBwave Mobile Planner, and iBwave Unity were implemented.
iBwave Unity is our advanced cloud-based site and project management software that gave this customer a single repository to keep all of their documentation — designs, survey data, site documentation — centralized and synchronized. For the technicians on-site this means they can now easily access previous design and survey data, to have a baseline and test against.
The problem of having to ship a technician a testing tool each time was solved with our mobile app, iBwave Mobile Planner. With no dongle licensing to worry about, various sites can now keep their own mobile app (usable on any Android mobile device) and use it to survey and test each of the facilities when there was an issue.
Quick shot of iBwave Unity, showing example listing of various network sites 👇
By using the integrated solution of iBwave Unity to centralize site survey information collected by iBwave Mobile Planner, technicians on-site can now easily access previous design documentation and baseline survey measurements for any troubleshooting efforts.
While no exact number can be given because every site and every troubleshooting effort varies, it’s been seen by our customer that this solution saves them an estimated 50 hours for the average site/troubleshooting effort.
Streamlining the Site Survey Process & Enabling a Converged Approach
Convergence—a word we are hearing more and more from our large Enterprise customers when it comes to managing their network and for this particular customer, an important requirement for doing site surveys.
Why so important?
While the size of their many facilities varies, the largest and most active facilities (storage and shipping warehouses), can often span more than two million square feet and many of their apps rely on the cellular network to perform. For that reason, it was important for this customer to understand not only their Wi-Fi coverage, but also their cellular coverage and the impact of it on the Wi-Fi network.
Prior to iBwave, to collect the data for the cellular network it was a complicated and costly process, with some key challenges:
- Outsourcing—since they did not have their own tools to survey cellular data, they had to outsource the job to a third party company often leading to very long delays, and weeks long survey process.
- Multiple Site Walks—without the ability to collect the cellular data at the same time as the Wi-Fi data, multiple site walks had to be done to get a complete picture of the networks.
- Centralized Documentation—without a central place to store and share all site survey data and documentation, surveys would often have to be repeated.
These challenges were resolved with the use of our cloud-based site management software iBwave Unity, and our mobile app, iBwave Mobile Planner, to perform the surveys.
With the ability to collect both cellular and Wi-Fi data measurements at the same time using the mobile app, the dependence on a third party to survey the network was eliminated, as was the challenge of having to do multiple site walks to get all data. And with the integration of the mobile app to the iBwave Unity cloud solution, all survey data collected is now be stored in a central cloud repository, eliminating any risk of lost data that needs to be recollected.
While not able to put an exact number on it, the time and cost savings are significant now that there is no need to outsource the collection of the cellular data and all data that is needed for a complete design is documented in the cloud where it's easily accessed by the design team. A survey that may have taken weeks before to gather all data can now be done in days.
“The ability to gather both cellular and Wi-Fi network data ourselves at the same time, in one tool without the help of a third party, is invaluable to us in terms of time, cost and documentation.” – Senior WLAN Design & Support Engineer
Finally, let’s look at the last challenge resolved by using iBwave software—design optimization and quality.
Improving Wi-Fi Network Design Quality & Optimizing Costs
When it comes to any type of wireless network design, if the design is not done well from the start, then it can lead to two things: 1) costly troubleshooting and re-design later, and 2) a design that is not optimized and therefore more expensive than it needs to be.
These two issues are the main reasons our iBwave software is so focused on enabling design optimization and network performance prediction accuracy. We pride ourselves on making sure our customers have the best wireless network design software to deliver the highest quality of designs to their end-users in the most cost-effective way possible. For this customer, the quality of the designs they were getting from their previous design software, and the level of troubleshooting they had to dedicate their resources post-installation, was proving to be a costly challenge. As was the over-designing of the networks – why add more access points if coverage and capacity can be maximized for less?
Both of these challenges are ultimately resolved by the powerful features and prediction capabilities in iBwave Design. With features like 3D modeling, inclined surface modeling, propagation through floors, and prediction calibration, the quality and accuracy of the designs will improve significantly. And accurate prediction results leads to high-quality optimized designs and ultimately less troubleshooting post-install.
Reports and documentation are part of almost any wireless network design project and it is no different for this large Enterprise customer. Especially accurate costing reports.
Prior to iBwave the process to produce these types of reports was manual, tedious and time consuming, often taking almost an hour to put one together, and often at the risk of human error as there was no way to automatically generate them.
With iBwave, the time previously spent on manually creating reports is eliminated and costing reports are generated in a matter of seconds with one click. Additionally, costing reports can now be generated at both the individual project basis, or across several different projects, using iBwave Unity. For example, if they want to track costs across particular building types (warehouses, depots, etc) or for a certain region, that is now simple to do in either a report or dashboard. Here are some costing report examples.
Here's are a couple examples of generating a Bill of Materials, and a Cost Details Report 👇
By using the powerful solution of iBwave Unity + iBwave Mobile Planner and iBwave Design, this large Enterprise customer is now able to manage the thousands of sites across the world from a single location – resulting in higher-quality Wi-Fi networks and less time and money spent troubleshooting them.