By: Craig Badrick on July 14th, 2016


5 Common Barriers to Effective Warehouse Wireless Networking


warehouse wireless networkingWhen it comes to warehouse wireless networking, too few warehouse managers are happy with their wireless solutions. Big promises from the vendors turn into big disappointments on the warehouse floor. Workers get frustrated, the top brass is angry about a low ROI, and the warehouse manager still can't get what they need to do done. Why do so many Wi-Fi 'solutions' fail in the warehouse environment?

1. Obstructions in the Environment

Of course there are obstructions in the warehouse, you say. The problem is, what works in one warehouse may not work well at all in another because the types of obstructions are different in each one. For example, if your warehouse primarily houses clothing and bed linens, a Wi-Fi signal will respond differently than it would in a warehouse that stocks car parts or building materials. The obstructions can even change somewhat over time. For instance, if you do store building materials, you might be stocking different types of materials now than you did five years ago. This makes it difficult to predict how Wi-Fi will work from one warehouse to another.

2. A Continually Changing Environment

Similarly, the warehouse floor is continually in motion. Things get moved. Removed. Replaced. Wi-Fi may work wonderfully one day and pitifully the next, when nothing has changed about the Wi-Fi setup or access points. What did change was inventory being moved about. Again, this makes it extraordinarily hard to predict how a warehouse wireless networking solution will perform in any given environment.

3. Wi-Fi is a 2-Way Communication


Even if the Wi-Fi is capable of pushing the signal across your warehouse floor, the devices in use may not be powerful enough to communicate back to the access points.

Older designs used for laptops and legacy inventory guns may have worked fine when first deployed. However, newer mobile devices or inventory tools may not function as well as the legacy devices did. These new devices may be lower powered to improve battery life, or utilize the newest standards which do not cover as much area, which means they can not communicate back to the access point even when the Wi-Fi is sending a good, strong signal to the device.

4. Higher Power Wi-Fi Means Greater Interference

How do you make a Wi-Fi unit work better? Turn it up! This is often the solution that people come up with to make the warehouse wireless network work across larger areas. The problem is, when the signal is cranked to full power, you potentially get more co-channel interference than you would if the AP's were set to normal parameters. It works much like having a conversation in a café. If it's a small café with few other patrons, you and your friend can converse with ease. But come at the peak of lunchtime, when dozens of other customers are babbling at the top of their voices, and the same conversation becomes nearly impossible to follow. That's what happens when access points are cranked to full power instead of enabling enough access points to make the solution viable.

5. Not Enough Planning

Most of the problems on this list can be solved with a thorough RF plan and site survey. You need a warehouse wireless networking solution that enables right number of access points (APs), thereby working optimally no matter what materials are being used, how things on the warehouse floor move around, or how low-powered the devices in use happen to be.

You can get a solid warehouse wireless networking solution, and we can help. Visit today to request a quote.

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