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Whether you are identifying and fixing coverage issues, or trying to measure the performance of your wireless network the current set of tools available to you can be expensive, lacking in functionality, or extremely time consuming. 3D-P’s Managed Services offering of Network Performance Analysis Toolkit (NPAT) as a service aims to help you understand your wireless network performance by providing you and your team with a powerful map based visualization of key network performance indicators without needing to buy additional software.
UNDERSTANDING THE CHALLENGES AND HOW TO OVERCOME THEM
Administrating a wireless network in a dynamic mining environment often means that you are spending considerable time on channelization plans, power adjustments, and AP moves. Providing an easy to understand visualization with all of the context you need to make an informed decision about your changes is what NPAT is built to do. Leveraging the computing power of the 3D-P Intelligent Endpoint, its on-board GPS card, and the iep-collector suite of tools, data about your network is collected by the actual clients that are using your network which increases the reliability and relevance of the data. The collected data can then be processed in 3D-P’s NPAT and generate you a map of your collected data. This map can then visualize any collected metric, in any number of ways, including aggregation of your plot points. Visualizing your network data after a haul truck has had a chance to make a few passes along its hauling cycle and averaging that data provides a much clearer picture of your network performance. A single pass, or visualization of a single data point may not tell the whole story. A single latency test can tell you a small piece of information, but the average latency in an area is a much more powerful metric when you talk in terms relative to wireless networking. A single ping may return to you slowly due to a number of different factors and isn’t a particularly useful metric, but a multitude of pings that return slowly can indicate an actual problem that needs to be solved. NPAT helps you determine where your problems are, and can certainly point you in the right direction in mitigating these issues.
There is also tremendous power in NPAT when it comes to simply measuring the performance of your network overall. Measuring your entire mine, at least anywhere your clients are traveling, against a set of application requirements shows you exactly where you’re meeting the needs of your on-board systems and where you can expect issues to crop up. Calculating the necessary throughput of every application required on a haul road, then continuously measuring the available throughput along that haul road can prove to you that you have the necessary bandwidth to meet the application requirements. Meeting application requirements is ultimately the purpose of the wireless network, and directly impacts the usability of your systems. This is a crucial piece of commissioning of any application, and being able to provide an application vendor the proof that your network can handle their requirements goes a long way in the supportability of that application. Arming yourself with the information needed to determine if you’re seeing a network or application issue can save you many hours of chasing your tail trying to prove your network is not the root of a problem.
WHAT DOES NPAT LOOK LIKE?
NPAT provides a .kmz, which can be opened by Google Earth and other software, which displays multiple metrics per data point, providing you context to solve complex problems in one click. When you can determine an area of high latency and quickly see that the problem may be too many visible AP’s on your channel you can address that issue without having to do all the work associated with surveying locations and collecting data manually, if you can even identify an area of concern from user reports. The extreme flexibility of NPAT provides countless options including tile color, outline color, tile height and many others to give you as context rich of a visualization as you will get anywhere, or as simple as a single metric visualized by tile colors. These parameters change depending on what problem you are trying to solve. Ultimately the power of NPAT is in providing you with as much context and information as you need to make smart decisions about your wireless environment. NPAT as a service gives you access to this powerful tool that can provide you with more information than any similar product on the market and it has been used successfully by 3D-P’s staff internally for commissioning, troubleshooting, and maintenance of wireless networks of all sizes and requirements.
To learn more about NPAT and Managed Services, contact us today!