Properly Manage Your Industrial Network

As an Industrial network manager your primary responsibility is to ensure your network is running smoothly on the factory floor. There is a tough task of finding the right equipment and designing your network that is subjected to the harsh industrial environment. Issues must be resolved quickly since a disruption in production can direct financial repercussions to your employer.

The problem: As automation continues to grow in popularity we have found that there are additional devices being put onto the network. These new devices need additional bandwidth and this adds additional stress to your existing network.

We have found with the following suggestions below you can easily resolve these issues and have a great ROI while reducing the need for additional network engineers on site. You can even manage your network remotely while providing you the tools to narrow down issues and resolving them ASAP.

1. Proper Network Design and Setup

A proper network design will not only reduce the hardware costs but will future proof your network. By designing your network according to the needs of your company you can figure out how much bandwidth is necessary and also use various types of networking technologies to facilitate communications without the expense. Figuring out the size of the network will also allow you to allocated more expensive Gigabit and even 10 Gigabit switches to the correct location.

Correct setup of your network will also reduce the need for these more expensive high bandwidth switches. For example if a video data is important in your production line by setting up QoS you can easily prioritize this data while other less important data will move at a slower pace.

2. Managed Switches

While some managed switches may have a higher initial cost but they can be valuable in optimizing your network and giving you a better ROI. We can consider the managed switches as the smarter and more knowledgeable individual in the switch family. Managed switches are equipped with unique technologies. For example they can help manage traffic (QoS), separate network devices by broadcast filtering, security, traffic flow (VLans) and redundancy for mission critical applications. Finally with the use of managed switches we can manage them by using "Network Management Software".

3. Network Management Software

A combination of the tips above with good network management software will give a network manager full control of their network. Some of these tools are visual and allows you to view and map your entire network and how it is all connected. Managed switches or devices with SNMP can communicate directly with the software. If your software is the same brand as your switches you can provide mass updates to ensure your network devices are secure with the latest firmware. This allows you to remotely access the switch and reduce the need to enter the factory floor therefore reducing the need for additional staff.

Actively you can setup alerts that are triggered when a particular event occurs. This particularly is useful as you don't need to stare a screen on even hire a 24/7 IT manager. When there are network issues these alerts can be setup and you can manage your network remotely without being on site. With built in playback software you can recall the events of the failure to pinpoint the exact problem.

Although no network is bulletproof, following these simple steps will let your network run trouble free. Here are the products with these features.

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