Warehouse operations need to be fast and efficient to keep up with customer demands – the industry has to delivery a wide variety of goods, push out a greater number of smaller shipments, provide real-time inventory visibility, and do so as there is more pressure to reduce costs.
That’s why keeping a warehouse up-to-date in terms of wireless networking is essential for effective and efficient operations. Many warehouse operators, however, put very little thought into their warehouse wireless network deployments. However, with the right planning and a thorough understanding of the environment, the WLAN can help enable higher levels of productivity.
Follow these four best practices in your warehouse to create the best, most efficient environment possible:
- Plan a WLAN site survey
- Ensure security and firmware is updated across all warehouse access points and devices
- Check access point density and power routinely
- Regularly schedule site audits
We provide further detail outlining each of these steps below.
Begin with a Site Survey
A successful wireless local area network (WLAN) begins with a WLAN site survey. This is a physical survey of the warehouse facility that helps operators and integrators determine exactly what wireless equipment is needed, where to install it, and how to properly configure the network components. The site survey also maximizes productivity and ensures that the wireless system is functioning properly and efficiently.
Site surveys take into account elements such as location, environmental factors, propagation frequencies, and other specifications to produce a final report. Engineers factor in building construction materials, the types of products used in the warehouse, racking systems, and previously installed RF systems. They also test the propagation frequencies and determine where to place access points, and in which direction to point the antennas to maximize coverage.
The final report includes details on suggested equipment, technical support information, scheduling term and conditions, and series of CAD drawings that illustrate the coverage pattern for each radio transceiver on the day of the survey.
Be Mindful of Security
Your warehouse is home to a lot of products as well as information about those products (and your customers) that will travel across your wireless network. Ensure your security and firmware is up to date across all warehouse access points and client devices in order to protect that data.
This not only protects your company, your devices, and your sensitive information, but also helps when optimizing network infrastructure performance. In addition, network monitoring and secure can help identify potential bugs or problems in the network, and ensure they are addressed in a timely manner.
Mobility consulting can help you troubleshoot and fix any security issues you may face. A qualified consultant can provide network optimization services, manage mobile device repairs, and help implement new devices on the network in a secure fashion as well as maintaining software updates and security patches.
Keep Track of Access Point Density and Overall Power
Access points (APs) are the network components that connect devices to your wireless network. They are also at the heart of many connectivity problems if they are not deployed or configured correctly.
Installing too many access points can lead to co-channel interference and loss of network performance. If AP coverage areas overlap too closely, mobile devices may experience roaming issues as well.
When there are too few APs, it can lead to coverage holes in the facility and dropped connections. Some companies respond to this by cranking up the power on the APs. This can boost coverage, but lead to additional roaming and connectivity problems. Mobile devices may try to connect to a distant AP rather than the closest cell because the increased power and range of the other access point.
By deploying a sufficient number of APs, and keeping their power settings within reasonable parameters, you can avoid network coverage problems.
Schedule Regular Audits and Adjustments
Once you’ve completed a site survey and properly installed the WLAN, your work isn’t done. Wireless networks should continuously evolve and change right along with your business requirements, your facility, and your inventory mix. In addition, new mobile devices may have joined the network since the initial deployment, and new equipment may have been added to the warehouse that can cause interference issues.
To make sure the wireless network is keeping up with your application requirements, you need an industry expert to help you manage these changes with regularly scheduled site audits and adjustments.
By conducting regular audits and network adjustments, you can ensure that the network is running as efficiently and effectively as possible, while also helping your business prepare and plan for future successes.
A successful warehouse wireless deployment requires a thorough site survey, careful planning, robust security policies, and properly configured equipment – followed by regular network check-ups from a qualified partner.
Peak Technologies can provide experienced experts that can help your organization integrate wireless networking in the warehouse, while improving productivity and helping your employees do their jobs faster and more accurately.
Contact us today to schedule a site survey and set your warehousing operation up for success.