The Importance of Building Offline Network Mobility into Your Supply Chain

Meagan Douglas
Wed, Jan 31, 2018
Companies need software and hardware that can store data in offline mode, increasing productivity for remote workers.
Companies need software and hardware that can store data in offline mode, increasing productivity for remote workers.

The internet is now an ever-constant presence to all employees working in the warehouse. It has enabled enormous growths in productivity and served as the backbone for new apps and software enhancements. Today's warehouse has been designed with the internet in mind. Luckily, this design reflects the positives and negatives of online augmentation.

Many software solutions today tout the ability to work online and offline and it is vital to have both methods of functionality. While internet connectivity empowers IoT functionality and a constant data stream, that is only when it is working properly. 

Consistent Productivity

While enormous improvements in online infrastructure have been made, the internet is still not a constant or optimized presence. There are a myriad of obstacles obscuring online development. Perhaps the largest, according to Business Insider, is the ISP monopoly. Internet service providers operate without competition in many parts of the U.S., giving them little incentive to upgrade services or downgrade costs.

The political struggle over whether the internet should function as a utility or a for-profit enterprise is not helping matters either. Regardless, companies should be prepared to treat the internet as a service that works only for the vast majority of the time. This means potential downtime, which in the warehouse supply chain quickly equals lost revenue.

Supply chain workers feel mounting pressure as product delivery expectations keep increasing. A software solution that works only in online mode would be exposed to a massive productivity dip on a way-too-frequent basis.

Download the white paper Adopting Enterprise Mobility in the Supply Chain: How to Go from Paper to Barcode Scanner to Tablet with Mobile Apps and learn how wireless barcode scanners can lead to increased productivity in the supply chain.

"DDoS attacks overwhelm online services with too much traffic, shutting down internet connectivity."

Enhanced Security

Cybersecurity is a real and increasing concern in the supply chain industry. The general rule is that, the more open a network is, the greater the risk for cyberattack. Restricting permissions and requiring password authentication are now musts for any organization looking to succeed in the 21st century.

However, even these security measures are not always enough. One method of cybercrime is a distributed denial of service attack. Digital Attack Map outlined DDoS attacks as attempts to overwhelm online services with too much traffic. These criminals essentially target a network and then bombard it, increasingly its workload to the breaking point and dragging down performance.

According to information security company Verisign, these attacks were less common but more serious in 2017 than in previous years. This variety of cyberattack can last for hours or even days - significant revenue loss in the warehouse supply chain. On-premise software that can operate in an offline mode is far safer from these kinds of cyberattacks.

Faster Bandwidth Speed

Lastly, offline-enabled software stands to reduce corporate costs. A rise in IoT-enabled technology has equaled an increasing dependence on cloud computing to help process and store the enormous amounts of data coming in. This service can be expensive depending on the provider, as Arador pointed out.

However, the internet is a fluid system - the more users on it, the slower it operates. Smarter software can track these times and figure out the optimum period to upload and download larger amounts of data, leaving the network less stressed and able to function better when workers need it to. On-premise software that can function in offline mode can switch over when necessary, reducing bandwidth load and prioritizing vital information transfer.

The RFgen Advantage

Offline productivity can be achieved in various ways. RFgen offers two modes of offline connectivity to its clients. With RFgen's Off-Network Mobility Solutions, data is stored on the mobile device itself. This allows employees to keep working with devices such as barcode scanners even if the connection to the WiFi network is lost. Once the link is re-established, the data will be promptly uploaded to the ERP system. 

With RFgen High Availability Distributed Solutions, the RFgen server stores the data securely should the ERP system connection fail or go down for scheduled maintenance. Once online connectivity is restored, the information will be uploaded to the ERP software from the RFgen server. Doing this allows the client to maintain large amounts of data during an offline blackout. Both of these solutions are designed to minimize productivity and revenue loss that can occur with offline downtime.

Although offline supply chain mobility will continue to grow with the internet, it is important to select the right cloud or on-premise mobile technology for the job. There are simply too many factors that can go wrong - from just a network error to a serious cyber threat. On-premise software that is secure and designed to operate while offline can minimize downtimes and ensure that productivity is stable. 

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