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Open pit coper mine of Chuquicamata, Chile

Industrial wireless networks work best when layered. 

Add the right backhaul and distribution layers to your network for better performance. 

To perform effectively, a wireless network for the outdoor industrial environment should be able to address congestion, mobility, and a high level of clients in a localized area. Designing your network with multiple layers allows data to be added and offloaded at the appropriate location and over the right technology to allow maximum performance and scalability. 

3D-P's three layer approach:

Layer 1: Client Access - connects the mobile fleet, allowing collection of the data you need.

Layer 2: Distribution - brings your network from the office to the field. 

Layer 3: Backhaul - provides maximum connectivity to key infrastructure locations. 

Matching backhaul and distribution technology to your business needs.

Taking your network from the office to key in-field access areas is the job of a backhaul network. The backhaul network often consists of fibre optics, but can also include Point-to-Point (PTP) wireless technologies. These PTP links provide maximum bandwidth and uptime, along with minimal latency and jitter. They can truly be considered extensions of your office network.

While the backhaul network typically ends at a tower or some other key infrastructure location near the edge of the mobile coverage area, the distribution layer brings your network to the equipment working areas. 

Typically reaching from the tower down to remote power stations, or other key locations in the working area, the distribution layer uses a Point-to-MultiPoint (PMP) technology. The distribution network solves several problems, and allows significant scalability. We primarily use PMP products that are based on TDMA protocols. TDMA handles the workload between devices differently from the 802.11 based access of the Client Access layer. TDMA allows a scheduled time slot for each node to talk, removing the network congestion problems inherent to the 802.11 collision domain. 

Using PMP, we can offload traffic from the Client Access layer as quickly as possible, onto a highly predictable link, where we can reduce bottlenecks and increase throughput. Additionally, high bandwidth items such as in-pit cameras, offices, etc. can be connected directly into the distribution network without impacting the critical Client Access layer. 

Depending on the network topology, a meshing infrastructure can also be deployed as part of the distribution layer, offloading Client Access layer traffic and freeing up bandwidth for the mobile clients. 

Reliable distribution even in the most challenging environments. 

One of the primary requirements for setting up a reliable distribution layer includes continuous power. This can quickly become an issue when your environment is remote, harsh or consistently changing.

A remote power station, either solar-powered, fuel-cell-powered or hybrid, will provide your distribution communication equipment with the power they need. It will also give you the flexibility and ease to re-position your communication equipment as your environment evolves. 

A clear understanding of your power requirements, geographic location and weather conditions through the year will ensure you select the most appropriate remote power station without overpaying for an over-engineered system. 3D-P develops its own remote power stations based on each customer's specific requirements following a strict selection process. 

Maximize performance of 802.11 networks by reducing coverage. 

3D-P networks create individual coverage areas (or coverage zones) for each access point (AP). We minimize overlapping zones using terrain, low gain and directional antennas and low power settings. We find that this approach guarantees best performance of an 802.11 based network because it ensures minimized RF footprint of each coverage zone and also helps manage congestion on the wireless medium. 

In order to create these small RF zones, AP's are mounted low, very near the intended coverage area, and low gain antennas are used on the mobile fleet. The overall network design is made of many small RF zones designed with the focus of keeping the RF local and allowing maximizing the performance of the 802.11 protocol.

If you need help with the design of your wireless network, contact us. 

Planning client access for optimal performance. 

Mobile clients, and particularly those that are connecting real-time applications have unique requirements. Items of particular importance are how the network handles mobility, how it handles RF congestion, how much throughput can be provided at distance, and how the technology handles shadowing or blocked signals. An understanding of your application's tolerance for these items as well as design principles that allow the chosen wireless technology to perform optimally in these situations is what drives proper network selection and design.