Innovating Swizzels with wireless technology
Client: Swizzels Matlow
Swizzels Matlow is one of the UK’s leading confectionery manufacturers, famous for brands including Love Hearts, Refreshers and Drumsticks, as well as a range of jelly and foam sweets including Drumstick Squashies. Founded in 1928, Swizzels employs over 500 staff based in their Derbyshire factory.
Because of the success of the Squashies range, Swizzels needed to increase operating capacity so made a significant investment, implementing new ovens and a new state of the art production line.
To improve the efficiency of their production line, Swizzels commissioned the creation of three robots that would be able to load and unload each oven. These robots needed to receive their operating instructions through wireless signals. As such, Swizzels approached Prodec Networks to discuss the full project requirements of implementing a reliable and robust wireless network that could operate the robots in a highly demanding manufacturing environment.
Following discovery discussions, Prodec Networks conducted a detailed site survey consisting of RF planning and heat map technology in order to work out the optimum location for each of the wireless access points.
The environment that the wireless access points needed to be deployed into posed additional challenges. Great performance was a crucial requirement, with wireless signals needing to be strong enough to ensure each of the robots could communicate from the far back of the ovens, each of which is equivalent in size to three garages placed end to end. Furthermore, the amount of metal in the building’s structure and the machinery located on site had potential to cause propagation issues. The manufacturing process itself also added complication; jelly production creates a lot of very fine starch dust that could potentially cause damage or performance issues, which meant the wireless access points needed to be protected.
Prodec Networks installed a number of HP Aruba 802.11ac access points with a sub-5 millisecond network performance speed. These were contained according to IP66 waterproofing standards to protect them from the harsh environment, and special mounting construction was strategically placed to ensure the robots were always in range, and able to load and unload the ovens efficiently.
Following the deployment and testing of the new Aruba wireless network, Swizzels was able to successfully provide their new robots with operational instructions delivered through the wireless network.
“Whilst the wireless part of the project wasn’t the main investment, it was a critical element in a complex deployment and vital to the success of the entire operation. Prodec worked with our project teams on the planning and installation of the wireless with clinical precision and we’re happy with how it’s turned out”
IT Manager, Swizzels Matlow
“It’s great to implement wireless networks for projects such as this as it shows just how flexible wireless can be and how it is used to innovate your business. This highlights that our clients are capable of much more with wireless, than simply enabling users to connect to the internet.
Head of Wireless Solutions, Prodec Networks