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Using SB Client via WIFI

  • 1.  Using SB Client via WIFI

    Posted 24 days ago

    Hi Guys,

    we would like to go Paperless  in our Warehouse for our Pick & Pack operations.

    We currently us SB Client on Windows Laptop and Desktops as the interface to our Business system (IBS from K3),

    The Business app makes extensive use of F2 and F3 keys and other keyboard input and as such does not lend itself to Touchscreen only use, we currently have any plans to go over to Barcoding at the moment (Thats a long story i shall not bore you with just now)

    We have as an experiment in our test system, be investigating using small 10" Ruggedised Windows Laptops, for both mobile and for use on Fork Lift trucks.

    However we are getting significant dropouts from the SB Client Sessions, as we move around the warehouse,

    We use Meraki for our WIFI and the signal strength from the AP's looks good and we can browse the network and access MS TEAMS, without issue.

    So this suggests to me that the Meraki's can't currently maintain the transition from one AP to another for the SB Client user sessions.

    Obviously we cant go live until we have a robust connection across the network.

    So this is where i need your input, have any of you out there successfully got SB Client running via WIFI in a truly mobile Warehouse / Factory environment and what did you do to achieve this, even better if there is anyone Running SB Client and Meraki WIFI

    Many thanks

    Andy

     



    ------------------------------
    Andrew Milne
    Business Systems Manager
    Potter and Moore Innovations
    Peterborough, Cambs GB
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Using SB Client via WIFI

    Posted 24 days ago
    Hello Andy!

    While I know absolutely nothing about SB or Meraki, I can provide some general information to you about wireless and network connectivity testing that I hope will be useful.

    Don't assume that because you can browse the network or access TEAMS that somewhere along the line your network connection didn't 'burp'. TEAMS and browsing (and others) are not what I refer to as 'active' sessions. They only really need an active network connection when you're interacting with them. If your network connection drops while those applications are idle, and then you're reconnected by the time you try again, you won't have any evidence that the connection dropped at some point.

    Telnet/SSH/uniRPC connections (I'm not sure what SB uses) are active connections - even when you're not typing anything. If there's an interruption in network connectivity, the session gets broken and dropped.

    We have encountered a number of issues in our plants, which didn't always register using standard network strength testing:

    * 'noisy' spots
    * Weak spots that didn't register if we passed through them too quickly
    * AP handoff issues - and sometimes this is caused by having too many APs
    * AP overload - strong signal, but too many devices on a specific AP

    Hope this helps!

    Brian Paige




  • 3.  RE: Using SB Client via WIFI

    Posted 24 days ago

    Thanks Brian,

    I agree with your comments about Browing and Teams not being Active Connections

    SB Client does use UNIRPC / Telnet connectivity.

    So generally speaking, did you do anything to mitigate the dropouts and have you been able to maintain connections across AP's with Active Connections from UNIRPC / Telnet sessions

    Thanks

    Andy



    ------------------------------
    Andrew Milne
    Business Systems Manager
    Potter and Moore Innovations
    Peterborough, Cambs GB
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Using SB Client via WIFI

    Posted 24 days ago
    My apologies - I should have added a little more info to my initial response

    Most of the resolution of wireless issues has been handled by/through our network/infrastructure team, so I don't have detailed information on that. In general terms, I know we've done the following:

    * Completely reorganized how APs were distributed
    * Removed APs where we had too many
    * Change the types of APs - if I remember correctly, in some locations we needed to replace 'regular' APs with directional APs (not sure if I am using the correct terminology) to give a more focused signal down the rows between racks

    Most of these solutions were the result of having a third-party provider come in and do a thorough wireless network analysis. While this can sometimes seem expensive, having a stable network across the entire facility can usually justify the cost. You might also want to engage Cisco to verify the configurations on the APs (and the wireless network in general) to ensure handoff is being handled the way you're expecting.


    Brian Paige




  • 5.  RE: Using SB Client via WIFI

    PARTNER
    Posted 22 days ago
    Hi 
    the only way which work correctly, is running SBC into a RDP session, then on your nomadPC you run clientRDP.
    If you loose network, RDP reconnect, session stay open on RDP session.

    I hope this help

    ------------------------------
    manu fernandes
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Using SB Client via WIFI

    Posted 18 days ago
    Andrew,

    I ran into the same issue with mobile terminals on devices moving between warehouses. They is a product from StayLinked that may be of some help. It allows you to bounce between WiFi networks and cellular data without breaking the connection. Not an advertisement, your mileage may vary.

    Jon

    ------------------------------
    Jon Kristofferson
    Pick Programmer
    Snap-on Credit LLC
    Libertyville IL US
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Using SB Client via WIFI

    Posted 16 days ago
    A warehouse is an incredibly hostile place for WiFi, and from past experience have encountered dropouts due to multiple factors including:
    • Interference from warehouse heavy load electrical equipment and motors- particularly roller door and AirCon switching
    • Passing radio signals from Taxis and railways - both from transmitter and noise sources such as arcing on overhead power.
    • Radio shadows caused by metal racking, steel framing of the building and metal items on shelves.
    • Poor cable routing to routers next to high-load electrical equipment


    You can also encounter issues if too many WiFi networks close to each other use the same channel - and you can usually get benefit in this case by choosing a different channel on the WiFi hub..

    I'd go with the RDP session recommendation from Manu for a robust solution. SB/XA Comms. Server and also wIntegrate Server give other options as they offer a non-persistent connection and also a remote pure KVM connection from the client to a central wIntegrate server actually running the session respectively.

    Regards,

    JJ

    ------------------------------
    John Jenkins
    Thame, Oxfordshire
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Using SB Client via WIFI

    ROCKETEER
    Posted 9 days ago
    One thing that has not been mentioned so far that may be of interest to you is that if you move to SBXA the new client is not telnet based so will work much better for you in this type of environment. If you are already running a GUI application today it is not a very big step to move to SBXA, if you are running a character based solution then part of the upgrade is thinking about how to present your application in GUI.

    ------------------------------
    Kevin Drury
    Director, Technical Support Engineering
    Rocket Internal - All Brands
    Denver CO US
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Using SB Client via WIFI

    Posted 9 days ago

    Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for the comments, i had not realised in the change of connectivity protocol

    We are still using the GUI from within SB Client and not SBXA, being a 35 year experience PICK veteran (Prime, PI OPEN, Universe) I still prefer Character as my go to screen choice, but needless to say all the "Users" only get to see the GUI !!!

    When we last upgraded Universe back in 2018 one of the main reasons for not adopting SBXA was that at that time, there was no "terminal window" so any of our Retrieve Reports that had in screen prompts <<Enter Start Date>>  or  <<Enter Range Name>> as typical examples,  stopped the migration to SBXA as being viable.

    I did raise this with Rocket Support back then, but am not aware it got resolved ??

    As we had and still do, we are very much reliant on me to Manage all things Universe, we have limited resources, so don't really have the time to re-engineer all the Reports  (would need to review over a 1000 to see which are still running live across multiple business)  with new Screen Based Gui Forms just to get round the lack of a terminal window, as the conduit for the screen prompts.

    We also have 100's of basic programs that also prompt for user input and or display their progress status, which would also have to be redesigned 

    Also there would be other financial considerations in Migrating to SBXA as our Business System, (IBS from K3) which itself would have to be validated in the latest version of SBXA, and all of our MODS would probably have to be reapplied, as we would almost certainly have to upgrade to a newer version of Universe, we are currently on 11.2.5

    So I would be interested to know if the lack of a "terminal" window in SBXA was ever resolved ??

    Thanks

    Andy



    ------------------------------
    Andrew Milne
    Business Systems Manager
    Potter and Moore Innovations
    Peterborough, Cambs GB
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Using SB Client via WIFI

    ROCKETEER
    Posted 9 days ago
    Are the devices in question running reports ?

    If not you can continue to use CHAR and GUI as required and just move over the people using the devices, one of the things that we did not communicate very effectively about SBXA is that you can still connect in CHAR and GUI and run exactly the same as you did before.

    If they run a small subset of the reports it might be worth the effort to put a GUI front end on them to allow them to do what they need to do.

    I moved away from SB a few years ago so I cannot comment on terminal functionality being added but i will raise the question with a current Product Manager to see.

    ------------------------------
    Kevin Drury
    Director, Technical Support Engineering
    Rocket Internal - All Brands
    Denver CO US
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Using SB Client via WIFI

    Posted 7 days ago

    Hi Kevin,

    Thanks, we were hoping to replace the Warehouse Staff's current desk based Laptop / PC with a ruggedized Tablet PC such as a the WINMATE  M101BK, as that offers the all the Function Keys. not many small format Windows Pc's, offer this. Our ERP solution makes extensive use of the function Keys from F2 through to F9

    This would keep the same number of end points we currently have, and thereby not increasing the requirements for a further number of SB Client licences

    So whilst the users working in the "aisles"  and on FLT's will probably not be running reports, when they get back to their workstations, they will need full access to their current Menus

    If there is still no "terminal" screen in SBXA, it might still be worth investigating the benefits of SBXA, to see if that addresses the WIFI dropouts, and then just re-engineer those processes they do need to run in the Warehouse

    BTW. we are likely to have to rollout "mobile" use across the Factory production floor as well, so getting it running in the Warehouse becomes more than a POC exercise

    I look forward to hearing from you again once you've had feedback from your Product Manager Colleague

    Many thanks

    Andy



    ------------------------------
    Andrew Milne
    Business Systems Manager
    Potter and Moore Innovations
    Peterborough, Cambs GB
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Using SB Client via WIFI

    ROCKETEER
    Posted 3 days ago
    This is a great thread, fun challenge and there are many suggestions to help you work through this that have educated me

    Without knowing the facility size, number of hotspots and the industry involved it’s hard to guess what the problem is, below are some tips based on my experience setting up warehouses for many years. I’ve encountered all of them in one form or another causing dropouts.

    If you’ve not already done so you may want to document any interference hotspots within your facility and correlate those to the dropouts. Based on your description I suspect something below may be culprit. You may be able to mitigate the problem by relocating the WiFi hotspots closer to the interference source or relocating the source if feasible.

    Things to look for are:
    Lights, fluorescent or sodium or mercury vapor lights along with newer non filament light bulbs.
    Electric motors that run compressors, presses, fans or either equipment that require high voltage.
    Are you using radio transceivers for voice comms in the facilities, if so what part of the RF spectrum (frequency) are they operating in.

    WiFi uses something called adaptive modulation that employs varying levels of forward error correction which allows the devices to work 99% of the time when signal strength momentarily weakens. The limitation of this is the 1% of the time when it drops and resyncs which normally takes seconds and goes unnoticed in most cases until you require continuous connectivity as you and others currently do.




  • 13.  RE: Using SB Client via WIFI

    Posted yesterday
    Andy,

    As Alan has mentioned, 100% persistent connectivity with WiFi is far from guaranteed, and with mobile WiFi is at best an aspiration and at worst mythical.

    While there are many steps that can be taken in mitigation you should be prepared for dropouts. At one end of the spectrum these can be momentarily disruptive, at the other end they can be painful and severely disruptive as all it needs is one 'bad actor' piece of electrical equipment nearby which could even be outside your premises (freezer trucks, worn generators (not alternators) in old autos, etc. The list goes on.

    In mitigation:

    • Look at using MIMO
    • Use 'mesh' WiFi
    • Use repeaters
    • Get a  professional to WiFi map signal strength. interference and reliability,
    • Add repeaters as appropriate - rechecking after they have been added.
    Also mentioning - use secure WiFi passwords and encryption - ideally with MFA - as well as strong firewall rules and active monitoring.

    Tip: If you ask a prospective security hire what firewall ports they would shut down - and they tell you - hire someone else. The correct answer is 'all of them - I will only open ports on an as-needed basis.

    If not changing to use a stateless application (e.g. RESTful, SB/XA or browser based) and if WiFi remains a bugbear then I recommend using RDP and using the remote WiFi terminals as workstations to connect to the appropriate remote desktops. The individual sessions will be persistent on the RDP server, and a lost connection can just be reconnected and  picked up where it was left off from the terminal.

    Regards

    JJ

    ------------------------------
    John Jenkins
    Thame, Oxfordshire
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: Using SB Client via WIFI

    Posted an hour ago
    Hi Andy,

    Jon mentioned a company called Staylinked. We haved used this in our factories for a number of years now and it's a solid product,
    They have a product called SmartTe which can "capture" your screens and transfer them into a modern gui interface, based on the green screen running in the background. We have used it in both formats (gui and straight green screen replication). The session remains live on a server so it handles drops with no issues.

    Thanks,
    Norrie.

    ------------------------------
    Norrie Steele
    Mr
    Self Registered
    Jedburgh GB
    ------------------------------