Flawless WiFi for Warehouses
We live in a digital age and the need for strong, reliable WiFi has infiltrated many markets including warehousing, storage and other industrial environments. Indeed, when it comes to WiFi for warehouses, warehouses are moving away from paper-based inventory management methods toward wireless-dependent devices. These changes can increase productivity and profitability, but require investment in proper infrastructure and talented wireless network engineers prepared to craft a wireless network that meets your warehouse’s unique needs and physical layout.
In a typical commercial environment, the biggest challenge is usually supporting high density use and high throughput. Configuring WiFi for warehouses is another thing entirely. Indeed, in a warehouse, we usually only see a few connected network devices with very minimal throughput demands. The two most important elements that differentiate warehouse WiFi from other WiFi deployments are:
- The vast size of warehouses
- The effect of shelves, pillars and stored inventory on network performance
5 Elements To Consider When Planning Installation of WiFi for Warehouses
5 Elements To Consider When Planning Installation of WiFi for Warehouses
- High Ceilings – It seems that access points have a fear of heights. At a certain height, wireless signals begin to dissipate. You lose packets and speeds and are left with an under performing wireless Internet network.
- Unique Layouts – Some warehouses require both indoor and outdoor wireless network coverage. Without a unified management system and strategically placed access points, network performance and bottom line will suffer.
- Extreme Conditions – If your warehouse doubles as a very large refrigeration unit, its freezing temperatures can impact wireless network equipment performance.
- Warehouse Design – Metal racking can weaken the performance of the wireless signal to the point where it becomes unusable at ground level.
- Stored Inventory – Whether your warehouse stores food items, glass, wood, or metal, each item has its own unique effect on wireless signal coverage. Working around these variables can be a nightmare for inexperienced engineers. At Made By WiFi, it’s Tuesday.
Access points have different sweet spots when it comes to mounting. Most perform optimally when mounted 10 to 20 feet to the air. Most access points will experience a sharp decrease in performance quality when mounted 40 feet and above. The average warehouse ceiling hovers between 30 and 50 feet in height. Some warehouse have ceilings that are even higher and to compensate, we use Ruckus Wireless access points that can be mounted horizontally and vertically. This allows us to mount APs on pillars, walls and other structures to achieve the height of wireless signal performance from any height.
Not all warehouses are rectangular. Some have indoor and outdoor spaces that require wireless coverage. Other warehouses feature adjoining offices that also require wireless coverage. Warehouse architects don’t use out-of-the-box blueprints, so forget about out-of-the-box WiFi for warehouses solutions. In these types of industrial environments, we deploy enterprise-grade wireless network equipment with a unified management system. A system like this enables your staff to move from the office, to indoor and outdoor areas without losing WiFi signal or having to connect their device to a new wireless network. This type of seamless environment leads to increased productivity and increased revenue.
Access points generally don’t perform well in extreme cold. Even the best indoor access points will just stop working if the temperature drops below 32 degrees. The equipment simply is not made to perform in extreme industrial environments like those found in refrigerated warehouses. To compensate for the freezing temperatures, we will install enclosures with built-in heating mechanisms to keep access points at ideal temperatures for peak wireless performance.
In addition to the type of inventory stored in the warehouse, you have to think about the storage infrastructure itself. Every access point, regardless of manufacturer, performs at its best in a wide open environment. Typically made of metal, your warehouse’s shelving units and pillars will degrade the wireless network signal. This is why it’s common to see a large number of access points deployed in a warehouse or industrial environment, even though only a few dozen devices require a wireless connection.
The type of materials stored in a warehouse has arguably the biggest impact on warehouse WiFi performance. Wood, metal, water, plastics, rubber and other materials all have their own unique effect on WiFi signals, and as you can probably guess, it’s never a positive effect. Some warehouses store combinations of material types. If this is the case at yours, it’s important that your wireless network provider accounts for the types of inventory your warehouse is storing as well as the levels of the shelving units on which these materials are stored.
How Different Materials Affect WiFi Performance In An Industrial Environment
Metal – WiFi is a radio signal and radio waves are formed by variable electromagnetic fields. Metal is both a conductor of electricity and magnetism, so metal shelving units, pillars and inventory absorb the wireless signal. The more metal material you have in your warehouse, the weaker the wireless signal will be. We will often recommend installing Ruckus Wireless access points in every aisle of a warehouse to make sure coverage is not heavily impacted by metal heavy environments.
Water – Water and materials with a high water content, like produce, not only block wireless signals but are also very good at absorbing radio waves in the 2.4GHz band. While the access points that we use are typically dual-band and broadcast in 2.4GHz and 5GHz, some legacy devices used by warehouse staff still rely exclusively on the 2.4GHz frequency.
Wood – Similar to water, wooden materials will absorb the wireless signal, both on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz band. Warehouses that store wooden furniture or use wooden crates must take into account the attenuation of the wireless signal caused by their inventory.
When it comes to their effect on wireless signals, some materials are worse than others. Below is a list of materials commonly stored in a warehouse and the level at which they may impact the warehouse WiFi signal.
|Material||Level Of Interference|
Store any of these materials? Never fear! Our talented team can install a robust and reliable WiFi network that accommodates your warehouse’s unique layout as well as materials stored.
WiFi For Warehouses – Top 5 Signs Of Trouble
- Inconsistent coverage – WiFi is better in some locations than others.
- Time-sensitive coverage – If your connection dips like clockwork, your warehouse WiFi network may not be equipped to handle the demand it’s facing at certain times of the day.
- Slow Internet speeds – You’re not able to get the full bandwidth that you pay for when connected wirelessly.
- Malfunctioning scanners – Inventory information seems off? Scanners often depend on WiFi to transfer information. Faulty WiFi can freeze your scanner.
- High battery drainage – Phones, laptops, tablets and scanners devote energy to connect to WiFi networks. If you have a weak wireless network, device batteries will drain in vain to try to connect to a nonexistent stronger network.
This list presents issues that commonly stem from an inadequate warehouse WiFi network. By no means does it include every symptom possible. A site survey and complete network examination is required to determine the true causes of wireless issues and the best path to resolution.
We Offer Flexible Warehouses WiFi Installation Schedule
Our team is fully committed to helping you avoid downtime. Our engineers can install a network in your warehouse on weekends or after hours, so as not to disrupt your workflow. Our team is fully insured and can provide COIs on-demand to guarantee a safe and speedy installation.
Each warehouse installation includes a wireless survey and free heat map. The heat map will gauge the strength of your new wireless network, taking the unique materials stored in your warehouse into account.
Another plus: we’ll work alongside your existing IT team. Our goal is not to become your IT provider or replace your existing IT personnel. We’re happy to assist staff in connecting your new warehouse WiFi network to your existing IP infrastructure and train them to manage the WiFi network moving forward. Our technicians are always available to provide ongoing support remotely and on-site, if needed.
To ensure that your warehouse wireless network performs at optimal efficiency, we will:
- Conduct an active site survey
- Take note of the unique items stored
- Create a heat map that highlights the expected wireless performance
- Install enterprise-grade equipment manufactured specifically for a warehouse environment ( We prefer smart access points from Ruckus Wireless )
- Strategically deploy mesh access points to eliminate unnecessary cabling
- If required, install indoor and outdoor wireless access points that work together and are controlled through the same user-friendly interface
Our WiFi for Warehouses Solutions Are Ideal For:
- Large & mid-size warehouses
- Hybrid warehouses with indoor and outdoor storage
- Distribution centers
- Warehouse with adjoining offices that require a single unified WiFi solution
- Public & private warehouses
- Warehouse that want to replace their existing, under-performing wireless system
- Warehouses looking to increase profitability and productivity by implementing an enterprise-grade
- wireless network
Benefits Of WiFi For Warehouses with Made By WiFi:
- Decades of wireless network installation experience
- Knowledge of unique warehouse environments
- Flexible installation schedules
- Price match guarantees
- Fully certified & insured
- Cabling services included
- Mesh capable equipment
- User-friendly management interface
- Indoor and outdoor WiFi installation
Call to Schedule a Warehouse WiFi Wireless Survey
Contact us today to connect with one of our wireless specialists and discuss your warehouse WiFi needs.