Application note: Wireless at Mt. Olive Pickle

Mt. Olive Pickle Co. Inc., the largest privately held pickle company in the U.S., is using voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technology.

08/02/2007


Mt. Olive , NC

Mt. Olive Pickle Co. Inc.

, the largest privately held pickle company in the U.S., is using voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technology. Mt. Olive also makes heavy use of electronic data interchange (EDI) technology, using it to receive more than 90% of orders from retail customers and to send invoices to about 80% of customers. So when the new advanced ship notice (ASN) EDI format was emerging, Mt. Olive knew it had to upgrade its warehouse management system accordingly.

Upgrading the management system required Mt. Olive to implement radio frequency identification (RFID) scanning equipment that could capture inventory and other information and transmit it over the company’s network. Additionally, the company needed a significant upgrade to its existing two-way radio communication system. Rather than invest in a new tower and handheld radios, the company elected to use wireless VoIP. This meant it needed a complete blanket of wireless network coverage to augment its existing wired Ethernet.

Mt. Olive installed a number of wireless access points in conjunction with a

Siemens

HiPath centralized controller to extend the network into every nook and cranny of its massive manufacturing facility. The decision turned out to be rather easy to justify financially—the wireless network paid for itself in less than four months.

In addition to helping it achieve the RFID implementation required to support the ASN format, the new wireless network enabled:

• The ability to monitor and control equipment located outdoors, on the factory floor, and in the warehouse facilities from any computer attached to the network. This saves an estimated $100,000 in maintenance costs over three years, and an estimated $2 million by reducing downtime in manufacturing production lines over three years.

• Implementation of a paperless work order entry system to save time and money on maintenance overhead of $1 million over three years.

• Integration with an existing VoIP PBX to replace two-way radios that were costly to operate and did not provide coverage to all areas.

Implementing a wireless communications network inside or outside of the plant is paying off for the companies mentioned above as well as others around the globe. By understanding the three areas of wireless communications—control, data monitoring, and merging manufacturing and IT environments—plants like these are saving money, enhancing operations, improving safety and poised to embrace emerging technologies. ce

--Jeremy Bryant is automation market network specialist with Siemens Energy and Automation;
Edited by C.G. Masi, Control Engineering senior editor

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