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The Faraday Cage

by OneCustomer Stories04/05/2018

The Faraday Cage
The mobile coverage at the new Agristo production site in Wielsbeke is perfect everywhere. Indoor mobile coverage ensures business continuity.

Mobile coverage is critical for business

Agristo processes fresh potatoes to make all kinds of frozen products, such as French fries and croquettes. The company’s 760 staff make 604,000 tonnes of finished products a year. They do this, among other places, at a brand-new production site in Wielsbeke, where the new company buildings cover 5.5 hectares.  “The halls are made mainly of steel and insulation panels,” says CIO Martijn Mennen. “That creates a well-known phenomenon: a Faraday cage, which severely hampers the use of mobile phones.”

Measuring

Once the new building was finished and the machines and conveyors had been installed, Agristo called on Proximus for help. “We had the mobile coverage mapped out in the offices and in the production halls,” Martijn says. “On the basis of this data, Proximus drew up an implementation plan to provide optimal mobile reception throughout the company.” This involved 170 mobile antennas and five kilometers of coaxial cable.

The mobile coverage means that soon we will be able to collect data from the machines via the IoT and therefore carry out preventive and prognostic management.

- Martijn Mennen, CIO at Agristo

Always easily reachable

“We work in a highly automated environment. The staff and external service providers have to be easily reachable at all times.” If something unexpected goes wrong on a particular production line, Agristo needs to be able to act immediately. “So it’s essential that we can confer quickly by phone and that technicians can consult information via the internet and mobile apps, Martijn added. 

Data collection

In Wielsbeke, 2.4 million packets of fries roll off the conveyor belt every day. If a production line shuts down, that immediately has a huge impact on the business. The indoor mobile coverage that Proximus provides on the site is part of a strategy aimed at ensuring business continuity. But that is not all. “We always opt for sustainable and future-oriented technology,” Martijn explained. “The mobile coverage means that soon we will be able to collect data from the machines via the IoT and therefore carry out preventive and prognostic management. We are also looking into the possibility of implementing Push-to-Talk – an alternative to the classic walkie-talkie via smartphone.”

More info about Mobile Indoor Coverage

Agristo processes fresh potatoes to make all kinds of frozen products, such as French fries and croquettes. The company’s 760 staff make 604,000 tonnes of finished products a year. In Wielsbeke, 2.4 million packets of fries roll off the conveyor belt every day.

Since the beginning of this year, Martijn Mennen has been CIO at Agristo NV. Before that he was ICT/ERP Manager for two years. He is an experienced IT Manager with a past in the business world, at Bekaert and Wienerberger, among others.

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