Warehouse and Manufacturing - Wireless Infrastructure Considerations

Computing Technologies have long been a main stay for manufacturing and distribution oriented businesses. With the advent of Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, the need for reliable and broad wireless coverage is increasing. The promise of these systems is an increase in productivity and improved management of your warehouse or manufacturing facility. Without solid network and wireless infrastructure coverage your significant investments might fall short.

 

Unique Physical Layout Considerations

 

Warehouse and manufacturing facilities have unique challenges with regards to their physical configuration. It is important to understand these challenges when planning the implementation of wireless infrastructure technologies.

 

Ceiling Considerations:

 

The ceiling height can obviously impact the range of wireless devices. The type of ceiling can dictate unique mounting requirements. Understanding the clearance requirements is also important, so that equipment is not damaged once installed.

 

Obstacles:

 

Warehouse racking and manufacturing equipment is often large, bulky, and made of metal. Materials and inventory that are constantly in flux all demonstrate challenges associated with adequate coverage in a warehouse or manufacturing facility. Such obstacles must be taken into consideration when designing and planning a wireless implementation.

 

Environmental Concerns:

 

Dirt, oil, temperature, dust, shock, vibration, humidity, electromagnetic interference, or specialty requirements such as those in food and drug production facilities, can all present challenges to selecting a solution. You name it and we’ve seen it. Each environmental concern represents a unique challenge and requires appropriate countermeasures.

 

Device Considerations:

 

As with any end-user device such as a wireless hand held scanner, ruggedized laptop or tablet, it is important to understand that wifi is a two way communication. Powerful access points will only get you so far. An understanding of your device's radio output and antenna coverage is essential.

 

Wired LAN Considerations:

 

Warehouses and manufacturing facilities can be large. Having appropriate switching in place to support all of your wireless access points is critical. Power considerations, switch enclosures and physical low voltage cabling considerations are important aspects to consider when planning and implementing a wireless network. Fiber and Power over Ethernet (PoE) are commonly used to minimize electrical requirements and provide extended LAN coverage to the far corners of a facility. Be sure to understand your municipality’s unique building code requirements for extending electrical or Ethernet in your facility.

 

Wireless Analysis:

 

Commonly known as a heat map it is important to understand the predicted coverage of a prospective implementation. Depending on your situation and the complexity of your physical environment, a predictive or live heat map may be required, to ensure adequate coverage. It is important not to overlook this step because if properly conducted you will understand all of your needs and unique challenges ahead of time rather than once implemented.

 

Looking for a Wireless solution for your Warehouse or Manufacturing space?

 

Consider engaging an expert ETS Trusted Advisor to assist in the planning and implementation of critical wireless infrastructure. Your success and overall productivity might depend on it. Contact us now to learn about our engineering consulting services, pricing, and experience with complex warehouse and manufacturing spaces. Our Chicago-based team can help make sure your wireless solution is a success!

 

ETS is a proud reseller of Xirrus High Performance Wireless Networks.

 

      

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