StayLinked SmartTE delivers seamless connectivity between WiFi and Cellular Networks

One of the UK’s major port groups, PD Ports, headquartered in Middlesbrough with operations in 12 locations across the country, was suffering from dropped sessions, the number one productivity killer in warehouse environments, at its remote Groveport site near Scunthorpe. StayLinked working with its partner OpalTec International Ltd quickly solved the on-going and historical connection issues with StayLinked’s SmartTE enterprise-grade terminal emulation (TE) software to deliver seamless connectivity between PD Ports’ WiFi and cellular networks.

“Accessing WiFi in some of our external locations is extremely difficult due to insufficient power and ducting, so we are heavily reliant on mobile data coverage. We use numerous mobile data providers but their networks can cause us connectivity issues,” explained Rob McGregor, service desk IT manager for PD Ports. “Especially when goods are stored inside a warehouse and outside in a field.”

In early 2023, as a pivotal step in the new support partnership between OpalTec and PD Ports, OpalTec visited the Groveport site. This visit aimed to gain an in-depth understanding of PD Ports’ operations and environment. It was crucial for identifying the best technology to address the connectivity challenges causing dropped sessions.

PD Ports had previously deployed traditional TE software combined with an additional product to try and prevent dropped sessions.

“We were experiencing connectivity challenges with the combination of the two products and the way in which our devices handed over from WiFi to mobile data networks and back again,” added McGregor.

The repeated session disconnects were hindering productivity. Workers were regularly losing connections in the middle of a task, work would be lost and after reconnecting, workers would have to log in again and restart their workflow. In some cases, the data loss required administration input to rectify the workflow.

“We quickly realised that the connectivity issues between the deployed handheld devices and PD Ports’ warehouse management system (WMS), along with the limitations of the handheld devices, could be solved by StayLinked’s SmartTE and a trial was arranged,” explained James Mellor, OpalTec’s business development manager.

StayLinked’s SmartTE terminal emulation software securely connects workers to an organisation’s WMS via StayLinked’s host resident server. Disconnects due to uncontrolled WiFi issues may still occur but workers’ sessions reside on the StayLinked server and not on the mobile device so connection to the WMS is uninterrupted.

A simple reconnect brings the worker straight back to exactly where they were in the workflow without any data loss or the need to involve an administrator.

Another feature of SmartTE, which PD Ports was keen to deploy, is its ability to allow companies to optimise workflows by touch-enabling the text on applications more easily and simply than other solutions.

SmartTE allows workers to interact with the touch screen directly without needing to select a keyboard and find the appropriate key or keys. This configuration can be achieved in a considerably shorter amount of time than with other solutions on the marketplace

Importantly, SmartTE allows its customers to quickly and easily convert legacy ‘green screen’ interfaces into modern user-friendly graphical displays without having to touch the enterprise application.

“SmartTE’s true session persistence has eliminated data loss and lost productivity due to dropped sessions for PD Ports by elegantly handling its mobile devices roaming and connectivity between different networks,” said Mellor. “Dropped sessions, especially as narrowband networks reach their end of life and there is an increasing need to switch between different networks, is a huge challenge for warehouse and supply chain organisations and one which some operators do not understand can be easily solved by StayLinked, due to the architecture of its enterprise-grade SmartTE software.”

“Having wasted a lot of time and effort trying to solve our connectivity issues with traditional TE software the issues remained unsolved,” added McGregor. “StayLinked’s SmartTE worked immediately and all of our connectivity problems went away! We quickly placed an order for SmartTE with OpalTec once the successful trial had ended.”

McGregor found OpalTec and StayLinked’s technicians to be extremely knowledgeable which enabled him to meet his connectivity goals. They also provided additional value by suggesting the deployment of SmartTE features which could be used, such as touch-screen capability, to reduce time on operational transactions carried out on handheld devices.

“After sales support has also been of the highest level. In short, we have yet to find a better solution than StayLinked’s SmartTE and would fully recommend the implementation of the software to benefit other warehouse and supply chain operations,” concluded McGregor.