GXC Private Cellular Networks Help Chicken Processor Transform Business Processes

Food processing facilities must adhere to strict regulatory mandates to ensure food safety, inventory tracking and management, site security, and worker well-being. Operators of a chicken processing plant in Texas recently implemented a private cellular solution to improve operations, increase efficiency, and provide a safe and secure environment for processing food.

Operated by one of the top national poultry processors, the plant required high-quality and reliable wireless coverage in exterior areas. The processor needed seamless connectivity in its facility to improve oversight and security of outdoor spaces while also enhancing inventory management and tracking, leveraging its digital warehouse management system (WMS) and ruggedized wireless tablets instead of relying on paper-based data logging.

The plant has reefers (refrigerated trailers) coming and going around the clock. The efficient operation of the plant depends on managing loading dock positions and knowing where product needs to be staged or moved at all times. In addition, logging and tracking reefer identification numbers, location, and temperature measurements were recorded on paper due to inconsistent wireless coverage between rows and rows of trailers—sometimes  resulting in errors and incomplete information.  

GXC Poultry Processing Plant

An Unfriendly Wireless Environment

Food processing plants provide a number of unique challenges for maintaining consistent network coverage. Reefers are giant steel boxes that can act as radio wave reflectors and absorbers, often interfering with wireless signals in lower frequency ranges such as that used by Wi-Fi – which this producer had tried unsuccessfully to deploy at other facilities. The radio characteristics of private cellular networks perform much better in this environment, and are better suited for these locations.

Digitizing Essential Processes

Without reliable wireless coverage in the yard, the plant relied on paper-based recordkeeping and data entry—which then had to be manually reentered into the WMS.  The risk of error in this two-step process had the potential to affect reports that are required by regulators. Moving from paper to digital reporting marked a significant workflow improvement for the facility by reducing costly errors, saving time, and enabling team members to focus on other critical tasks.

The Solution: GXC’s Onyx Private Cellular Network

GXC’s Onyx solution provides all outdoor wireless coverage throughout the 50-acre site. The network encompasses the loading and trailer storage areas as well as the facility’s security gate. The entire coverage area is served by two network access points configured for redundant operation. Measured performance of the deployed network shown in the radio propagation heat map (Figure 1) demonstrates good or excellent signal strength throughout the target coverage zone outlined in orange. The system also provides coverage beyond the target zone, enabling connectivity for wireless devices to operate as needed throughout the property.

Benefits of GXC’s private cellular network:

  1. Seamless and reliable wireless coverage of loading, parking, and gate areas
    • Tablet-based vehicle logging at gate and in the yard
    • Support for business-related apps (including Voice over Internet Protocol and push-to-talk apps that may be utilized through the tablets)

  2. Integration of outdoor activities directly with WMS
    • Improved efficiency in inspection and data logs required for regulatory compliance and maintaining food safety
    • Data error risk dramatically reduced when captured from tablets and transmitted to the cloud per regulations
Onyx Deployment Heatmap

In addition, the company is considering additional applications through GXC’s private cellular network at the site:

  1. Enhanced WMS integrations for facility-wide view and control, as well as automated inventory management and logging
  2. Security video support with cellular-capable cameras and sensors
  3. Extension of private wireless network to the plant interior—an equally challenging wireless environment with conveyors, freezers, and large equipment that impede or reflect signals.
    • Better wireless coverage using one-fourth the number of access points than Wi-Fi at a lower TCO
    • Seamless extension of applications indoors and outdoors

Private wireless delivers

By utilizing a private cellular deployment, the company has complete control over network traffic management, administration of device registration, and data privacy. GXC provided the processor with a secure and robust solution that enables the company to transform its operations through automated inventory, storage location and asset tracking, environmental monitoring, and logging. It provides the ability for personnel to communicate from every part of the yard using handheld wireless devices, and eliminates the need to record or tabulate any data by hand.

Learn more about private networks by contacting us at sales@gxc.io and discover the substantial returns on investment these networks bring to the table.

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