Avery Weigh-Tronix (AWTX) is a world leader in the manufacture of weighing products and systems for a wide range of industries. With an excellent reputation for service, support and commitment, AWTX is often asked to integrate systems by its customers. So when Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Limited required tighter control over in-store product pricing in its many hundreds of outlets AWTX was asked to find a way to do this. In order to connect existing serial AWTX scales and price-label printers to a centrally based pricing system, AWTX needed a fast, easy, secure and readily scalable solution. Digi International(R) Inc.’s (NASDAQ: DGII) innovative Digi Connect Wi-SP proved ideal.
For any large retailer operating in today’s highly competitive and fast-changing environment it is critical that all its branches have up-to-date and accurate price information. Sainsbury’s was using a mix of methods including, manual and some locally connected update options. This was labor intensive and prone to error. With the development of networking solutions such as wireless Ethernet and TCP/IP technology time-savings and improved data accuracy could be enabled. By building into the scales and printers a network connection to its central pricing system Sainsbury’s would be able to provide automatic updates to all devices in all stores simultaneously.
It quickly became obvious that the wireless networking option rather than installing additional network cabling could provide a more cost effective solution. By using the wireless option however, AWTX did have to consider the level of security required to protect access to the network and the integrity of data being transmitted across it, while obtaining a solution with a small enough form factor to fit neatly onto the scales and printers. All of Sainsbury’s stores were recently equipped for Radio Frequency (RF) with Cisco Wi-Fi access points. While these supported the Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol (LEAP) user authentication system, by adding the newer Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol (PEAP) standard a wider variety of devices could be networked.
“We really needed something that was small, incorporated an antenna and supported WPA to meet Sainsbury’s requirements. I quickly realised that most of these requirements could be met by using Digi International’s solution,” said David Chaffey, Retail Systems Support Manager, AWTX.
The Digi Connect Wi-SP embedded wireless to serial module had the necessary security features now defined as WPA2 or 802.11i and full authentication support with either PEAP or LEAP modes using 3rd party RADIUS servers. The ability to support dynamic IP addresses through DNS was also added to the functionality at AWTX’s request. But AWTX also needed the product with a small form factor similar in size to that of the Digi Connect SP(R) programmable device server.
Consequently Digi worked with AWTX to define the exact product specifications of the Digi Connect Wi-SP for this particular project. Digi developed initial prototypes and then production units for the highly compact Digi Connect Wi-SP, which went into customer trials in only six weeks. With comprehensive technical support from Digi, including face-to-face technical meetings, Sainsbury’s soon had a working system that enabled a seamless communication between the central server and the serially-connected AWTX scales and printers.
About Digi International
Digi International, based in Minneapolis, makes device networking easy by developing products and technologies that are cost effective and easy to use. Digi markets its products through a global network of distributors and resellers, systems integrators and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). For more information, call 877-912-3444.
About Avery Weigh-Tronix
Avery Weigh-Tronix (AWTX) is a global leader in the design, manufacture and service of weighing equipment and systems. Its retail portfolio ranges from stand-alone scales for the independent trader to fully networked weighing systems for multi-location chains.