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5 WLAN Design Mistakes Your Warehouse Needs to Avoid This Year

Written by Danny Mareco Danny Mareco | January 12, 2017

Did your warehouse experience some wifi performance problems this past year?

If you said yes, you’re definitely not alone.

The warehouse wireless environment is one of the most difficult places to design a robust and dependable Wi-Fi network.

Learn how wireless networks are driving business inside the modern-day warehouse. Download the EBook here.

From supporting hand-held scanners, tablets and the industrial internet of things, to the physical environment, dealing with wifi problems for many is a way of life.

However, if you can stop making some common mistakes it doesn’t have to be anymore.

In order to improve wifi performance and maintain a reliable, mobile device friendly wireless system, here are 5 WLAN design mistakes your warehouse needs to avoid this year.

1. Maxing out AP Power Levels

It seems like it would make sense, “full power = better wifi performance.” However, by pumping up the power, the “clients” or different connected devices within your warehouse will end up in many cases connecting to the wrong access points.

In other words, your environment will become really noisy and it will be very hard for your devices to know which access point to connect with. For example, a device trying to connect to an AP across the warehouse instead of connecting to an AP that is right around the corner.

Seeing does not equal hearing (connecting).

While your devices might be able to see an AP from across your warehouse, that same AP (even though it is providing proper coverage) most likely won’t be able to see or hear your device unless you’re standing within a certain proximity.

Check out point 1 of a 3 Reasons “Long Range Wi-Fi” Creates Warehouse Wi-FiIssues to gain a better understanding.

Try leveling out the power of your access points to 50%, and adjust as necessary throughout the warehouse to balance coverage.

AP placement is always a big deal! If you plan to switch out access points for newer models, simply replacing or placing more won’t solve anything, in fact, it can actually make your problems worse.

We’ve seen this happen quite a bit and it’s typically a very costly mistake.

2. Materials Matter

If your warehouse if full of fabrics and apparel you’re going to have a different WLAN design than a warehouse full of construction materials or musical instruments.the-stock-effect-impacts-warehouse-wireless-performance.jpg

Known as the “stock effect”, differing materials have a different effect or impact on wifi performance. RF signals are going to find it much easier to pass through fabric, than the frequencies would trying to get through a blockade of steel rods.

This is not limited to the types of materials being held in the warehouse, even containers or how you’re choosing to stock them (layout) can impact your warehouse’s wifi performance.

3. Using the Wrong Antenna Types

Your access points may be properly configured, but if you’re using the wrong antenna type your warehouse will still end-up running into wifi problems.

There are two types of antennas you could be using in your warehouse, figuring out which one better serves your warehouses needs is critical to improving wireless performance.

  1. Omnidirectional antennas - deliver 360 degrees of coverage. The potential problem here is when you use this antenna on let’s say a 40-foot ceiling. Everything close to the ceiling (tops of your storage racks for example) would get coverage but everything operating on the floor wouldn’t be supported.
  2. Directional antennas- provide a “focused cone” of coverage meaning those antennas, if properly focused (placed), can distribute coverage from floor to ceiling.

4. Stop Ignoring or Forgetting Those Updates!

This is a pretty simple fix, “update your firmware!”software-updates-are-important-for-warehouse-wifi-performance.jpg

Similar to any mobile device or piece of technology, updating your firmware is a MUST. This goes for both your end-user devices (tablets, smartphones, RFguns etc.) to your infrastructure components like access points.

While you might not get the “update” button as regularly as you would for a smart phone, checking to ensure that everything is running at its most updated version will result in better wifi performance.

5. Purchasing Before Planning

You wouldn’t buy a new washing machine without first making sure it would fit through your door and you had the proper connections in place would you? I know that’s a bit simplistic but the point is the same, you had to plan before you bought it to make sure it would work.

Why should something like your Inventory Management System (IMS) be any different?

You need to always first ask yourself, “Can my current wireless platform properly support this new application?”

If your wireless system can’t support the newer technologies, you’re going to be right where you started: with poor performance and an inventory management system that doesn’t work.

Planning for new mobile devices means connecting with an expert wireless solutions provider, who can properly navigate the Wi-Fi engineering process to ensure your wireless platform will support your applications the first time.

At SecurEdge, we deliver affordable, robust, and secure wireless platforms – it’s all we do. If you have any questions about your warehouse's current wifi performanceor would like to discuss an upcoming project, please contact us here.

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