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Wi-Fi improves work collaboration at LGElL

LG Electronics India successfully streamlined the flow of business information at its Noida plant with a Wi-Fi deployment

Arindam Bose

The Indian subsidiary of the Korean major, LG Electronics, LG Electronics India (LGEIL) has a large presence in the Indian consumer electronics, IT peripherals and the PC markets. The company believes in innovation and has unwired its manufacturing plant that sprawls across 47 acres in Noida, near Delhi.

Built in early 2000, LGEIL’s Noida manufacturing plant has 500 employees who are equipped with notebooks. Of these, 100 users already had access to the Wi-Fi network. The remaining 400 users have been unwired by installation of 50 wireless APs.

Business At LG

The goal of the Wi-Fi implementation is to improve collaboration between employees within the manufacturing plant thereby leading to better decision making, helping them meet deadlines

Arindam Bose, Head IT, LG Electronics India says, “The goal of the Wi-Fi implementation is to improve collaboration between employees within the manufacturing plant thereby leading to better decision making, helping them meet deadlines.”

The plant manufactures TV sets, refrigerators, washing machines, air-conditioners and microwave ovens. 50 percent of the Noida plant’s 47 acres is built up, and the rest is free space.

Stepping Ahead With Wi-Fi

Plant employees use notebooks from LG and IBM currently. Bose explains, “Users have been given Wi-Fi-enabled notebooks with VPN connectivity to access applications through the Internet.”

LGEIL plans to purchase Wi-Fi-enabled Centrino notebooks. The company is Wi-Fi enabling existing notebooks that have already been provided to employees with WLAN cards from Cisco.

Lotus Notes, MSystems (the internal ERP system), Citrix, Oracle 11i and Internet access are the applications deployed across the Wi-Fi network. Remote users access ERP through Citrix servers installed at LG’s Greater Noida site. This has been done to save bandwidth. “All the buildings are covered with wireless connectivity. Recently we have provided wireless connectivity to wireless scanning devices at logistics centres,” says Bose.

No evaluation exercise was conducted for the Wi-Fi implementation as LG has a global relationship with Cisco. Bose says, “LG Electronics has a strong relationship with Cisco at the global level and so we didn’t use a stringent evaluation process. In branches we have Cisco Linksys APs installed. We have recently installed Linksys Access Points at our mother warehouse as well.”

In A Nutshell
  • The company: LG Electronics India (LGEIL) is the Indian subsidiary of the Korean consumer electronics and computer peripherals major, LG Electronics.
  • The need: LGEIL deployed a Wi-Fi solution at its manufacturing plant in order to improve employee collaboration, allow better decision-making, and help personnel meet deadlines. The company Wi-Fi-enabled all 500 notebooks at the plant by adding more access points.
  • The solution: The company used the Cisco Aironet 1200 Series AP products to set up the 802.11b Wi-Fi network.
  • Benefits: 500 users are already on the Wi-Fi network. The flow of business information has improved, and has consequently improved co-ordination. The office area looks cleaner with fewer cables, and network maintenance costs have dropped.

A Smooth Implementation

LGEIL decided to deploy the Wi-Fi solutions in the first week of February 2004 and the first phase of the project went live in a month’s time.

Bose explains, “Designing the architecture for the Wi-Fi network was a smooth process as the space in the plant is wide and open. Our office has a clean environment. Putting up access points and other devices was a simple task.”

A three-member team was involved in the first phase of the implementation of which one member represented the systems integrator and the other two members were from LG Electronics. The total cost of the project is Rs 35 lakh, out of which the first phase of the project costs Rs 10 lakh (Pune factory).

Inside the works

The 802.11b wireless protocol is being used in the Wi-Fi network, which allows 11 Mbps bandwidth. Bose says, “There are ten access points in the implementation that is spread across the plant’s administrative block. We have around ten users per access point. When the entire built-up area at the plant was unwired, we had deployed a total of 50 access points.” HCL Comnet maintains the Wi-Fi network.

Besides the usual IDSs and firewalls, LGEIL uses the SSID security protocol to secure the plant’s Wi-Fi network. Bose says, “The use of different SSIDs helps users to connect to different VLANs. Moreover, the use of similar SSIDs in different blocks helps users to remain connected to the network while roaming.”

Access Control Server (ACS) has been implemented for the core routers and core switches. This ACS is remotely managed and maintained by HCL Comnet.

Advantage Wi-Fi

The benefits of the implementation have been manifold. Other than the free flow of information and better co-ordination between employees, the implementation has resulted in a cleaner office area with fewer cables.

Bose says, “Cable management is a big challenge and maintenance doesn’t come cheap. With the Wi-Fi network going live, there will be fewer cables and the company will save money that goes into cable maintenance.”

The Next Step

The entire built-up area at the Noida plant will be Wi-Fi enabled. All the 500 notebook users will have access to the Wi-Fi network then.

There are no plans to upgrade the existing 802.11b wireless protocol. Bose says, “We have found this protocol to be quite sufficient for our requirements and will continue with this for the time being.” Six user support engineers have been assigned to manage the entire network. This team is fully-trained on wireless support services.

The company had expanded its presence in India and set up a second manufacturing plant at Pune. The second plant is also Wi-Fi-enabled. Cisco Aironet 1200 Series access points have been installed in Pune to provide wireless connectivity to mobile users. Different SSIDs have been configured to connect the user to different VLANs as in Greater Noida.

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Indian Express - Business Publications Division

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