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Saving Big From Wireless Handhelds

(Sidebar to "Mighty Handy" from the December 2006 issue of Automation World)

Many manufacturers are finding that the payoffs can be handsome from using wireless handheld devices for maintenance and other applications in their factories. One example comes from Mt. Olive Pickle Co. Inc. (MOP), the largest privately held pickle company in the United States.

Mt. Olive Pickle, located at the corner of Cucumber and Vine in Mount Olive, N.C., recently installed a wireless system at its facility using technology from Siemens Energy & Automation Inc., Alphareta, GA. And during a presentation at the recent International Industrial Ethernet Symposium, sponsored by Siemens, in Chicago, MOP Vice President of Finance Dan Bowen laid out some of the numbers, together with Doug McNeil, business development for wireless, at Siemens Energy & Automation.

According to projections presented at the Symposium, MOP expects to save more than $3 million over a three-year period on an investment of less than $250,000.

For the project, MOP installed 39 Scalance W wireless access points from Siemens and two Siemens HiPath Centralized Controllers (one for redundancy) to provide pervasive indoor and outdoor wireless coverage of its campus. This enabled MOP to equip its maintenance crew and others with wireless voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phones eliminating the need to spend $80,000 for a new tower to upgrade its older walkie talkie-based communication system, Bowen said.

Some of the biggest savings from the project will come through a reduction in equipment downtime - to the tune of about $1.7 million over three years - thanks to factors including wireless automation monitoring and improved wireless maintenance capabilities. Another big savings will come through equipping MOP's maintenance staff and others with wireless, handheld computing devices from Symbol Technologies, Holtsville, N.Y., which can be used to enter and respond to maintenance work orders. By eliminating its paper-based work order system, this move alone is projected to save about $1 million over the next three years.

To see the main story this sidebar was taken from - "Mighty Handy" - please visit

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