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By definition, the connected mine requires connection to all your mobile and fixed devices at any one time. Monitoring of your wireless network to ensure its reliability and connection to all your devices is therefore paramount.
However, the unique environment in which miners operate, only allowing for a limited network bandwidth, combined with the criticality of the mining fleet applications quickly differentiate network monitoring solutions.
Traditional wireless network monitoring
Monitoring the devices on your network can be accomplished in any number of ways.
The first thing people think of when they think of monitoring a network is typically a ping test, which can only tell you if something is powered on, communicating, and responding to ping messages.
To take your monitoring to the next logical step a protocol like SNMP can provide more in-depth health and utilization information. However, it may not necessarily provide you the information you’re looking for, and there are security and reliability concerns as the protocol is considered “connectionless”. While these two tools are considered staples of monitoring, they can’t do it all.
Monitoring from the client’s perspective
The majority of network monitoring solutions monitor the network’s performance from the perspective of the infrastructure. They can tell you which devices the infrastructure is connected to, details on those connections such as bandwidth utilization, latency, etc. From a mobile user’s perspective however, there’s a big gap.
The locations and times when the device can’t connect to the network are the exact locations and times when monitoring is needed most. It’s possible that blind spots are caused by lack of connection to infrastructure. It’s just as likely that the blind spot was caused by too much overlap of coverage, resulting in a period of time where the device couldn’t obtain access to its AP.
The root cause can only be determined by monitoring connection data on the client. Monitoring from the client’s perspective is critical for mobile mining networks.
Monitoring without affecting your bandwidth
A substantial consideration to take into account is that monitoring wireless clients requires some bandwidth. With 802.11 based wireless mobile client, you are talking about a shared medium and “polite” clients. This means that a client will only talk when nobody else is talking, this goes for any kind of traffic on your network.
There is no way to say one client is more important than others, and each client can decide what data is most important to send when it gets a chance to speak. This introduces a wrinkle into network monitoring of your clients, you want to get the relevant information but you don’t want to have critical mining application data held up because of it.
3D-P uses its Intelligent Endpoint® (IEP) to enhance monitoring of your wireless network health while having minimal impact on your network traffic and providing maximal information about network health. Similar to the philosophies of Smart IoT, with analysis of data occurring at the edge, rather than all at the network’s core, the wireless environment can be monitored from the edge, with client devices collecting any number of metrics and reporting back to a centralized location, the Insight server.
But it doesn’t end at just sending back some data, because what if your mobile asset has moved to a part of your mine where there is no coverage?
Monitoring shouldn’t stop when out of coverage
In traditional network monitoring solutions, you may get a location of where the radio was last talking, and where it started talking again. But what about all of the data in between, and all of the data you need to make not only a quick decision, but a correct decision?
The 3D-P IEP and network monitoring tools continue to collect data while out of coverage, storing that data, and making it available for examination once connectivity is restored, giving you a view into why communication failed, and what the environment looks like in the dark areas.
To learn more, don’t miss out our blog next week on how the improper monitoring tool can bring your network to its knees, or contact us today.