September 2015

Expand Network Visibility to Mobile Phones for Efficient Network Management

Current statistics show that globally, the number of mobile users is now greater than the number of desktop users, and we can expect this global trend to expand into the industrial automation workplace. In fact, since engineers joining the workforce today are accustomed to using mobile devices in their private life, it is only natural that they would want to use the same devices to simplify their work life.

In this article, we discuss the challenges in current industrial network management and how a mobile tool can expand network visibility. By using your mobile phone to access your network, you can reduce system downtime by keeping up-to-date on network changes, even when you’re on the move.

Challenges in Maintaining Continuous Operation

Automation engineers can face challenges in their daily work routine, even when they’re using industrial network management software. For example, with evolving business operations, engineers are often on the move, making it difficult to stay informed of or quickly respond to any status changes in the network. In addition, if you’re doing regular maintenance or troubleshooting at a field site, engineers could also face the daunting task of identifying specific devices in a sea of identical devices. As a result, faulty devices cannot be swapped out quickly enough to keep the network running smoothly.

However, with the development of mobile networking tools, engineers can now improve operational efficiency and maximize network availability.

The Mobile Monitoring Architecture

The following diagram illustrates how a typical mobile app for network monitoring works to keep users informed of their network’s status. The app connects to the software server over an intranet or the Internet to access network status in real time. In addition, if the network is updated, the network management software server will send a push notification via the Apple cloud or Google cloud to alert the app user.

Empowering Engineers on the Move

In general, a mobile network monitoring app provides the following three features for convenient network monitoring using mobile devices.

  1. Sending Real-time Alerts
    With a mobile network monitoring app, administrators can receive notifications of events pushed to their mobile devices. These real-time alerts allow administrators to take action immediately in response to critical events, even when they are out of the control room.
  2. Allowing Instant Network Checks
    A mobile network app allows users to check the status of a network in real time. For example, it will inform you whether or not the network is operating normally. The app will also display detailed information of a specific network device, keeping network administrators in the know while they are on the move or out of the control room. Information, such as a device’s IP address, MAC address, location, and firmware version can be viewed from the app.
  3. Finding Field Devices Quickly
    In certain scenarios, it could take a long time to manually search for a specific device from racks and racks of similar devices. Moreover, if automation engineers need to access the parameters of a specific device for onsite troubleshooting, they would need to physically connect the device to a laptop computer using a web console or CLI (command line interface).

    To make the task easier and more efficient, mobile network monitoring apps now usually come with a function that allows users to quickly find a particular device, and even view detailed device information.

With Moxa’s MXview ToGo app, users can not only scan the device to get detailed information, they can also activate the Device Locator function to find the devices–just by looking for the blinking LED.

Conclusion

Using a mobile app for network monitoring, administrators can view device and network status and receive real-time alerts from their mobile devices while on the move. In the field, administrators can quickly search for any device and view that device’s detailed configuration parameters with the click of a button.

  • Download the white paper Enabling Mobility to Network Monitoring to learn more about using mobile apps for network monitoring, and read about an actual case study.
  • Learn more about the MXview ToGo mobile app for network monitoring here.
 
 
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