As the technology used in the warehouse becomes increasingly sophisticated, reliable wireless connectivity has become an essential part of ensuring that a warehouse can operate optimally.
Installing and maintaining a good wireless network in a warehouse however can be difficult, and many warehouses experience issues with their network connectivity. The large spaces, harsh concrete surfaces, and rows of metal shelving can make it difficult to provide stable and reliable WiFi coverage.
Some of the key considerations when setting up wireless infrastructure in a warehouse environment include:
Planning Your Coverage
Propper planning is key to successfully implementing a wireless network in the warehouse. It is important to make sure you fully understand the scope of the project and consider the environment of the warehouse as a whole. This includes looking at what aspects might disrupt regular network coverage, so that the solution can be designed with this in mind.
A full site survey can be conducted to determine the number of Access Points needed and the most suitable locations for them. This analysis must also cover the way wireless networking is going to be utilised in the warehouse, for scanning, mobile, and/or voice devices. The coverage must not only reach everywhere but should also be able to handle the traffic required.
Selecting a Platform and Architecture
The wireless network needed to cover a warehouse is more complex than that seen in a typical home or office environment. While a single router may cover a home or small office, a warehouse will typically need several Access Points to provide full coverage.
The quality of the hardware will make a difference here. An enterprise level installation requires industrial grade Access Points. The wireless network should not be designed just for coverage but for resilience, downtime, servicing, and repairs can have a significant impact on overall productivity and have real business impacts. With an enterprise grade Access Point it is possible to configure and monitor the signal and data traffic, pre-empting potential problems, and optimising connectivity.
It is important to consider the devices that will be requiring connectivity. Different hardware will have different sensitivity and requirements.
As much as possible it is best to standardise all equipment connecting to the network. For example, make sure that all the mobile devices that need to connect to the network are the same make and model.
It is also best to use the same model of architecture across the Access Points and user devices and try to reduce any disparities between different makes of device.
Choosing Mobile Apps
By having the appropriate mobile applications on the connected devices, it is possible to keep data transfer to a minimum. This will avoid unnecessary data retries and reduce the overall burden on the system. Enterprise grade mobile computers will generally allow you to control what apps can and cannot be added to them. If you are allowing users to connect to the network with their personal mobile devices, consider the impact this might have on data usage.
It is important to put the proper care and consideration into implementing a wireless network in the warehouse. If done correctly a reliable wireless infrastructure will eliminate inefficiencies caused by constantly disconnecting scanners, printers, or mobile computers. Fast and reliable network coverage in the warehouse will give your company a clear competitive advantage.