Getting WiFi in your warehouse sounds pretty simple, right?
Source a provider, install a router, and off you go – just like at home… But the reality is it’s nowhere near that simple.
How do you fill such a large space with signal? Avoid black spots? Get enough bandwidth for your team to actually use it properly?
Overcoming these sticking points can open up a world of internet-based tools and systems to send your warehouse productivity sky high.
So in this post we go into warehouse WiFi solutions. Covering all the tricks and tools you’ll need to flood your facility with fast, reliable wireless network.
Why is warehouse WiFi so important?
It’s worth going over the reasons reliable WiFi in your warehouse can be so useful. And why you should be actively looking into warehouse WiFi solutions if you’re struggling to set it up effectively.
First of all:
The systems and tools you’re missing out on by not having WiFi at all could be holding your business back. Leaving customers with delayed, missed or inaccurate orders from mistakes in the warehouse.
Like digital picking, for example.
This can help your team get through a mass amount more orders each day compared to manual processes, and bring errors down to almost zero. But strong WiFi is a must to make it work.
Having poor quality WiFi can lead to black spots in your warehouse. Meaning any digital systems or tools you do have can end up not working in certain areas – making them a waste of money in some cases.
So how well your warehouse performs (and by extension, how good of an experience you give your customers) can be majorly impacted by the quality of WiFi you have.
Warehouse WiFi solutions to implement
So this brings us to the question:
How do you actually make sure your warehouse WiFi is up to scratch?
Here are six key things you need to think about:
1) Find a solid provider
The first step in warehouse WiFi solutions is to actually find a quality provider. And your run of the mill Comcast subscription won’t cut it for most warehouses.
- The location of both you and any potential provider.
- The size of your facility.
- The demands you’ll be placing on the wireless network.
- The software and hardware included to run your network.
- The ongoing support and monitoring offered by any provider.
You can opt for a completely managed solution, where a specialist company comes in and handles everything. Or just get a connection and ensure proper coverage yourself.
The larger and more complex your warehouse set-up, the more you should edge towards a fully managed solution.
2) Get your access points sorted
A home or small office may be fine with a single router. But this isn’t nearly enough for larger locations (like a standard warehouse).
Adding access points (APs) is the answer.
These are hardware devices strategically placed around a location in order to boost and spread wireless signal appropriately.
But how do you set up your access points right? Consider:
- Quality of hardware. The more devices connecting to your network (and the larger the demands of these devices), the better quality AP hardware you’ll need.
- Number of points. You’ll need enough to cover your location with good signal. But too many can cause signal overlaps where frequencies interfere with each other and disrupt service.
Here’s a great video from SecurEdge Networks about planning your access points according to your capacity demands:
But you’ve also got a few other things to think about when it comes to access points…
3) Point antennas in the best direction
Something else to consider for your access points is whether to go:
- Directional. Where you can point an antenna to focus signal in a particular direction.
- Omnidirectional. Where your device will push signal out at 360 degrees.
Omnidirectional looks like the most obvious solution at first glance. But it depends on your facility and where the APs are being placed.
If your AP is on the ceiling, you may be better off with antennas pointing down to create a ‘cone’ of higher strength, focused signal. As opposed to 360 degrees of weaker signal going everywhere.
It may also be more appropriate to have points at the end of each rack of shelves with signal focusing directly down each aisle.
4) Put APs at the right height
We just mentioned putting access points on the ceiling. But this might not be the best idea in some facilities.
Some warehouses can have exceptionally high ceilings – much further up than most standard office environments.
Meaning you could end up with a weak signal down at ground level. So make sure to take this into account when placing your APs.
5) Take blockers into account
It’s not just about getting signal into an empty warehouse. The signal will need to spread through whatever is being stored in your facility too.
- The items themselves (e.g. signal will pass through a warehouse storing pillows better than one storing vehicle parts).
- Racking, shelving and wooden pallets.
- Any other items or objects in the warehouse that could block or distort signal.
You’ll need to take these things into account when considering the quality, quantity and placement of your access points.
6) Don’t forget outside
Your warehouse WiFi should stretch as far as is possibly needed – and this includes any outside areas.
Are there any forklifts or vehicles being taken outside with onboard computers needing WiFi? Do you need WiFi outside to book in new stock coming in?
These are questions you need to take into account when planning your WiFi setup.
Equipment to use
It must be stressed that large locations should always consider bringing in network specialists to plan, implement and monitor their warehouse WiFi solutions.
But smaller facilities might be able to get away with:
- Sourcing a reliable commercial provider.
- Installing several properly placed access points.
If you only have a few devices connected to and using WiFi at any one time, you may get away with something like the Ubiquiti Pro 24.
While more demanding operations may require looking into more enterprise designed equipment like the Ruckus range.
Finding warehouse WiFi solutions is essential if you want your operation to keep up with the times.
You need to be able to take advantage of internet-dependent tools like inventory systems and digital picking. If you can’t, your competitors sure will at some point (if not already).
Fortunately, getting WiFi in your warehouse is now a fairly straightforward task.
Just follow the advice in this post and you’ll open up a whole world of potential for productivity-driving digital tools and systems in no time. Your customers will definitely see the difference. If you are interested in improving your warehouse management, why not take a look at our guide to warehouse management systems.