had to ensure always-on communication links between
its central office and operations offices in Mumbai.
It found leased lines unreliable and inflexible for
its need. The solution was to deploy wireless Radio
Frequency links. by Soutiman Das Gupta
(Exel India Private Limited), a logistics solutions
provider, was looking for a reliable means to connect
its offices in Mumbai. It found leased lines unreliable
and inflexible for its need and had to ensure always-on
communication links between its central office and operations
offices. "The aim was to keep up to a commitment
made to our customers. We promise our customers to clear
all consignments within two days. And in order to fulfill
the promise, it is essential that the links between
our offices in Mumbai have very high uptime," said
Suresh Subramanium, Assistant General Manager-IT. The
company opted for a RF-based (Radio Frequency) wireless
link to connect six locations in Mumbai.
Exel is a global leader in supply chain management,
providing customer focused solutions to a wide
range of manufacturing and retail industries.
Exel, in India has its central office in Mumbai.
In India, Exel has 22 offices and eight warehouses.
The company was looking for a reliable means
to connect its offices in Mumbai. It found leased
lines unreliable and inflexible for its need
and had to ensure always-on communication links
between its central office and operations offices
After a line of sight survey the company implemented
wireless RF links between six offices in Mumbai.
Each link offers bandwidth of four Mbps.
The links are very reliable and are rarely down.
The company is able to keep up to its promised
service levels. In future the company plans
to link more warehouses and offices with wireless
lines didn't help much
EIPL had installed a 2 Mbps leased line between its
Mumbai offices. And the leased line was backed up by
an ISDN link. But the company felt that the solution
was not of much help. "It takes a very long time
to implement a leased line. To add to this difficulty,
leased lines offer unreliable connectivity and erratic
customer service. Our network is so business-critical
that even five minutes of downtime will result in delay
and loss of business," said Suresh.
Deciding on wireless
The company had independent servers in all its offices
in Mumbai. The servers were consolidated last year to
a high-capacity centralized server architecture in the
central location. The operations offices are all within
a 5 km radius from the central office. "Since the
central office was the most critical area, we wanted
a reliable solution for the links. We heard of successful
implementations of wireless links and we decided to
evaluate the technology," opined Suresh. "We
spoke to HCL Comnet and Tulip for their solutions. We
tested the RF link and decided to go with it. RF is
now the primary link, the 2 Mbps leased line and the
ISDN link serve as backups."
Tulip conducted a 'Line of Sight' survey, studied the
requirements and recommended Cisco's wireless solution.
It then designed and implemented the links and is also
responsible for managing the network.
The wireless state of things
The central office was linked to the first operations
office in 2001. Since then Exel has successfully linked
six offices in Mumbai. The bandwidth on each link is
Wireless is easy to upgrade. On the other hand, upgrading
a leased line involves an additional complication. You
have to support the cost of the modem when upgrading
from a 64 Kbps leased line to a 2 Mbps. Basically, the
cost difference between the two links justifies the
investment. Another advantage of the wireless solution
is that we did not have to reconfigure any of our existing
links to implement wireless," said Suresh.
The wireless platform supports applications like Exel's
freight forwarding, financial accounting, billing, MIS
systems developed in PB/Sybase, and Import Clearance
system which works on a VB/SQL server combination. The
platform also supports regular e-mail connectivity using
Lotus Notes. "Since implementation the links have
rarely been down," claimed Suresh.
The wireless future
"We are considering linking all our warehouses
to our key offices using the wireless technology. Providing
more interface options like V.35 and G.703 along with
RJ 45, and in-built routing capabilities may deliver
great advantages to us," added Suresh.
Exel plans to wireless network more offices to Mumbai.
This includes offices in Pune, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad
and Goa. And later, the warehouses in these respective
cities will be connected to the city office over wireless
links as well.
Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached at