WiSys has been providing WMS solutions for Macola and WMS solutions for SAP Business One for fifteen years. We have implemented hundreds of customers with thousands of mobile devices doing real-time transactions. As a result, a few of our customers have experienced issues with their Wi-Fi infrastructure. This article will review the top 4 warehouse Wi-Fi problems we see and what you can do to help fix them.
Common Warehouse Wi-Fi Problems
1. Too Many or Too Few Access Points
Believe it or not, having an abundance of access points can create as many issues as not having enough. Too many access points can introduce an issue where devices connected to the network, such as barcode scanners, can get confused as to which access point they should be connected to. The interference between the access points that causes the device to be confused can be harmful to performance and cause users to be frustrated.
On the contrary, too few access points cause the device to not transition properly from access point to access point. When this happens, the device will temporarily drop the connection and cause delays for the user when the device needs to refresh the connection when another access point comes in range. Proper placement of access points along with proper power and channel settings will prevent these issues.
2. Effects of Material Stored in the Warehouse
This is one of the most commonly overlooked items when planning or implementing Wi-Fi in a warehouse. The make up of the materials being stored in the warehouse can have a major effect on not only the placement of access points but the number of access points needed. Some warehouses utilize pallet racking to store materials and some do not. In either case, the density or make up of those materials and how high and near to the ceiling of the warehouse it goes, impact performance. Access points are almost always installed in the ceiling or rafters of the warehouse. Dense material such as paper or books in cartons, metal parts in metal bins, or t-shirts laying on a shelf will each have a different impact on the placement and configuration to ensure maximum performance.
3. Improper Antenna or Location
Most access points have one of two types of antennas – Directional or Omni-directional. Directional sends a more focused RF signal like how headlights on a car illuminate the road. Omni-directional sends a 360-degree signal that covers a wider area and is the most common antenna used in warehouse applications. In certain instances, like when pallet racking is used and it reaches up very near to where the access points are installed in the ceiling, Omni-directional antennas may only provide coverage to the top couple rows and not be able to reach devices near the floor. In this scenario, directional antennas may provide better coverage, or the access points may need to be relocated to more open areas of the warehouse where the signal can reach further.
4. Access Point Configuration
The configuration of the access points is another factor critical to the effectiveness and performance of the network. Omni-directional antennas that can see each other can get adjacent channel interference. Turning down the power in the access point can help with the interference between them, but it may cause another issue of not enough signal strength being supplied to reach devices on the ground. Keeping up to date with the latest firmware on both the access points and the devices connecting to them will also keep the two working well with one another.
Best Way to Fix Problems with Warehouse Wi-Fi
Prevent them! The single most effective way to prevent warehouse Wi-Fi problems is by proper planning. The absolute best way to plan is to have a wireless site survey performed by a professional organization. Warehouse management solutions are meant to be efficient and save time and effort. The four warehouse Wi-Fi problems listed above cause workers to be frustrated and inefficient and often lead to data-related integrity issues. The time, effort, and expense to fix the outcome of these problems are far greater than the additional planning and the up-front expense to build a wireless infrastructure the right way.
Warehouse Wi-Fi Providers
If you are ready to solve your warehouse Wi-Fi problems, there are two organizations that can help with a wireless site survey, wireless hardware, devices, printers, and labels. We recommend these companies to our customers because they have proven track records and our customers have reported back that they are very satisfied with their service and support.
8170 Washington Village Drive
Dayton, OH 45458
(937) 436-2343 – Office
(937) 367-6939 – Mobile
Barcodes, Inc. Solutions
10300 10th Ave North,
Plymouth, MN 55441
(763)231-6754 – VoIP Office
(920)791-0506 – Mobile
Warehouse Management Solutions for Macola and SAP Business One
Ready to get started with a Warehouse Management System? WiSys Agility solutions have been designed to achieve efficient Warehouse Management, Supply Chain Management, and Business Intelligence. Contact us to learn more.