How To Improve Warehouse Wireless Coverage

Whether you have a single or multi-site supply chain, there’s no denying that warehouses are a hive of activity, and a hub for manufacturing and logistics – and they’re getting busier and busier.

Hardware and software in the warehouse are both on a steep incline, but incorporating new technology into your network can compromise its performance. Often warehouses are having to attempt a balancing act between supporting these additional devices and applications, and minimising black-out spots, drop-offs and shrinking coverage.

As warehouse wireless experts, we know how to achieve 100% coverage in these unique and challenging environments where machines, racking, picking devices and even the building itself can compromise your connectivity. This blog discusses some tips you can use to boost your warehouse Wi-Fi coverage.

So how can you improve your warehouse wireless coverage?

Conduct a wireless network site survey

Start by conducting a Wi-Fi site survey to identify areas with weak signal coverage, interference sources, and dead zones. This survey helps determine the optimal placement of access points (APs) for better coverage and signal strength throughout the warehouse.

Upgrade to modern Wi-Fi standards

Ensure that your wireless infrastructure is based on the latest standards, such as 802.11ac or 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6). These standards offer improved speed, capacity, and performance compared to older versions. Upgrading to newer access points and compatible client devices can significantly enhance Wi-Fi performance.

Determine AP quantity – don’t overdo it!

When installing APs, you have to think about the size of your warehouse as well as the number of people working in it. Five people in a small warehouse can use one access point without any problem, as there will be enough bandwidth to go around. In a large warehouse, you’ll have to increase the number of APs in order to enjoy stable enterprise Wi-Fi coverage.

Optimise AP placement, taking racking and electronics into consideration

Proper placement of access points is crucial for effective coverage. Consider the warehouse layout, building materials, and the specific needs of each area when determining the ideal placement of access points. Mirrors, walls, machines and metal racks can prevent network signals from reaching some parts for your warehouse. Position them strategically to minimise interference from physical obstacles and metal structures that are common in warehouse environments to improve signal flow.

Manage channel interference

Warehouse environments often have various sources of interference, including machinery, equipment, and neighbouring networks. To mitigate interference, use Wi-Fi management tools to monitor and analyse channel usage. By selecting channels with less interference and adjusting channel widths, you can improve overall WLAN performance. If your router shares a channel with multiple Wi-Fi devices, you may experience signal issues. Use a less crowded channel to extend your wireless network signal range.

Optimise network configuration

Fine-tuning network configurations can enhance performance. Adjust settings such as channel bandwidth, transmit power, data rates, and Quality of Service (QoS) parameters to optimize performance for the specific requirements of the warehouse environment. Consult the documentation provided by your wireless equipment manufacturer for recommended settings.

Implement VLANs and network segmentation

Implementing VLANs (Virtual Local Area Networks) and network segmentation can help prioritise and manage network traffic effectively. Separate critical operations, such as inventory management or order processing, from general Wi-Fi usage to ensure that essential tasks receive the necessary bandwidth and network resources.

Update firmware and software

Regularly update the firmware and software of your wireless network equipment to ensure you have the latest features, bug fixes, and security enhancements. Keeping your devices up to date can help optimise performance and address any known issues.

Monitor and analyse performance

Utilise network monitoring and analysis tools to continuously monitor warehouse wireless performance, identify bottlenecks, and troubleshoot issues proactively. These tools can provide insights into network traffic, signal strength, device connectivity, and potential performance bottlenecks, allowing you to make informed decisions for further optimisation. These are becoming increasingly automated through the use of APIs and cloud software, making productivity optimisation an effortless process.

Consider Professional Assistance

If optimising warehouse wireless performance becomes challenging, consider consulting with a professional network engineer or Wi-Fi specialist. They can perform a detailed analysis of your specific environment, recommend customised solutions, and assist in implementing best practices to maximise wireless performance to boost warehouse efficiency.