All organizations planning to acquire, build, and occupy new commercial or industrial space require internet access. It’s rarely an issue in dense, metropolitan areas. But when companies erect industrial buildouts in more rural, less densely populated areas — or places with pending environmental issues — obtaining adequate internet infrastructure becomes a greater concern.
Yet, it isn’t something that industrial companies always factor in. It sometimes takes companies years after that initial land or building acquisition and buildouts that it will cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars — or more! — to get the internet access they need.
For example, a company may realize four or five years after construction or acquisition that they need more internet bandwidth. Upon investigation, they learn their ISP wants to charge $50K to $250K+ more to “go the last mile,” trench a country road, burrow around wetlands or other protected spaces, or string cable above ground where unpermitted.
Other scenarios can be even more dire. Imagine a company several years after the initial land or building acquisition investigating upgrading their technology and learning that — in addition to being cost-prohibitive — reliable internet access simply isn’t available in their location.
Companies cannot afford to overlook internet infrastructure during the initial planning stages just because they’re focused on other facets of the operation: availability of utilities, environmental issues and required remediation, physical security, road access, square footage, etc.
While providing industrial internet services in rural areas — or outside major metro areas — has some unique considerations, there are solutions for meeting internet accessibility requirements.
Best Practices for Addressing Industrial Internet Needs
The keys to securing the proper internet for supporting business operations include understanding the infrastructure constraints, incorporating redundancy, ensuring physical security, monitoring aggressively, and structuring service level agreements (SLAs) to meet all industrial application requirements. Let’s look a little more deeply at these recommendations.
Remote locations often lack robust broadband or fiber availability, so assessing the connectivity infrastructure is critical. Evaluate options like satellite, fixed wireless, or mobile networks and factor in reliability and speed.
With sites spread out over large distances, it’s crucial to account for dispersed locations and optimize network topology for efficient connections. Hub and spoke models with aggregation points can help.
While redundancy might seem superfluous, a lack of redundancy increases the risk of downtime. Redundant networks enhance reliability and maintain uninterrupted internet access. Seamless path switching prevents connectivity disruptions. Load balancing optimizes performance and speed by distributing data across multiple routes. Include backup options for connectivity, like redundant ISPs or dual SIM modems.
Consider on-site hosting, which can perform better than cloud hosting, especially for applications requiring low latency or high bandwidth — factor in server installation and maintenance costs.
Evaluate power reliability, as many rural areas may have limited or unreliable power grids. Unplanned power outages can lead to costly downtime and production losses for industrial facilities. Just as built-in redundancies help reduce downtime, backup power — like generators or battery banks — helps ensure uptime. Evaluate factors such as power reliability and quality, voltage stability, and potential power outages to help anticipate potential power disruptions and develop mitigation strategies that minimize impact on operations.
For rapid on-site issue resolution, train employees on basic troubleshooting and maintenance at individual locations. Automate monitoring for 24/7/365 surveillance of connectivity status, application performance, and server health. Actively monitoring these and other metrics in real-time enables systems to instantly alert someone if an anomaly is detected.
Choosing an IT Provider
All companies — but especially those intending to operate outside major city areas — must work with an IT service provider because they’re best equipped to provide comprehensive IT support like 24/7 monitoring, proactive maintenance and more. These trusted business partners help develop and implement strategic IT plans.
Imagine the benefit of working with an IT provider when an industrial company is planning its acquisition or buildout. The biggest benefit? Reducing expenses by combining their IT requirements with the initial planning and construction projects.
These IT partners can help identify which internet service providers (ISPs) are available to connect and analyze product specifications and costs to bring the most effective ISP to their IT closet even before the roads have been paved. These partners can find alternatives if the leading ISPs are unavailable or cost-prohibitive.
They are also equipped to negotiate lower pricing with available ISPs by integrating the main cabling portions of an overall ISP deployment project. An industrial or commercial company can rely on its IT partner to oversee the project, ensure the deliverable meets expectations, and proactively identify and resolve potential issues earlier to avoid costly overruns or mistakes.
Industrial companies should consider these best practices when choosing their IT provider:
- Seek a company experienced with deploying manufacturing execution systems (MES), supply chain management, enterprise resource planning, quality management, etc.
- Find a provider well-versed in integrating operational technology (OT) with IT systems because knowledge of industrial control systems is the key to a successful deployment.
- Evaluate industrial network capabilities, as the providers should have experience designing, implementing, and securing industrial ethernet and Fieldbus networks.
- Given the rising cybersecurity threats, evaluate the provider’s capabilities in securing industrial control networks, applications, endpoints, and data.
- Confirm their reliability and uptime track record because production downtime is expensive.
- Industrial providers need proven disaster recovery plans, including backup power, redundant data centers, and offsite backups.
- Ask about the provider’s cloud vs. on-premise expertise because some apps work better in different environments. Ideally, the provider should have hybrid deployment capabilities.
- The IT provider should also have compliance knowledge because industrial companies require compliance with regulations like ISO, IEC, NIST, and environmental standards.
- Your chosen provider should offer solutions capable of scaling up to handle increased workloads.
- Multinational companies should look for the provider’s presence in target geographies, which makes it easier to standardize IT globally.
- Finally, find a provider willing to customize offerings to your company’s specific needs and work culture.
If you’re seeking a provider of IT services and solutions, talk to Scott Kuperman, director of TeamLogic IT. This national provider offers a wide range of services, including managed IT services, cloud services, data backup and recovery, cybersecurity, IT consulting, and more. Working with TeamLogic IT offers multiple benefits:
- Reduced IT costs. The company provides the IT services and support you need without having to hire and train your own IT staff.
- Improved IT performance. The company offers the latest technology and 24/7 monitoring to identify and resolve problems before they cause outages or downtime.
- Increased productivity. The company provides its clients’ employees with all the IT tools and support needed to do their jobs effectively.
- Reduced IT stress. The company recognizes its clients aren’t in the IT industry and takes over the day-to-day management of IT systems so their clients can focus on their own business.
Are you a commercial real estate investor or looking for a specific property to meet your company’s needs? We invite you to talk to the professionals at CREA United: an organization of CRE professionals from 92 firms representing all disciplines within the CRE industry, from brokers to subcontractors, financial services to security systems, interior designers to architects, movers to IT, and more.