Warehouses face demanding Wi-Fi requirements in today’s modernized facilities. Aisles have peak number of users with handheld scanners grabbing inventory for shipment.
The incorrect question to ask: Which access points are best for warehouses? The right question is which antenna should be used with your access points.
Modernized warehouses are utilizing automated guided vehicles or robots which rely on Wi-Fi connectivity for navigation and picking. Handheld scanners are moving around aisles which need a reliable connection back to a warehouse management system (WMS).
New technologies in the warehouse require specialized Wi-Fi solutions such as antennas and mounts.
The most common access points have built-in omnidirectional antennas. Wi-Fi signal is propagated 360 degrees from the access point. When deployed over 30 feet high in a warehouse, the signal is not as optimal for the devices near the floor.
The best way to increase quality of signal is to shape coverage where Wi-Fi is needed.
This is done through the use of patch or directional antennas.
Compared to omnidirectional antennas, patch or directional has a different propagation pattern.
Rather than 360 degree coverage it can be 80, 65, 55, etc. Otherwise known as an antennas beamwidth.
A beamwidth is set horizontally and vertically, providing accurately directed signal down an aisle, for example.
Design Use Case
Let’s use a warehouse aisle as an example.
We have had clients who have experienced poor roaming or handoff using omnidirectional antennas which led to the following issues:
- Sticky clients
- Low RSSI
- Poor performing roaming
- High co-channel contention
- Coverage holes
By selecting the correct access point and antenna we have optimized Wi-Fi performance which led to:
- Less picker frustration
- Decrease in help desk tickets
- Increase in picker output
Here is an example of using a directional antenna:
In this example, two aisles have an access point mounted 35 feet high with a directional antenna pointed towards the floor to provide a strong signal to the devices held by warehouse pickers.
Select The Right Antenna
Selection of hardware begins in the design phase. A predictive model is produced to display a potential outcome.
To increase the accuracy of that design, an AP-on-a-Stick survey can be performed. The desired access point and antenna are placed on a tripod while live measurements are taken in the facility with a survey tool. The results are used to improve the predictive design.
Mounting Wi-Fi access points and antennas in warehouses has improved over the years. For example, a colocation beam mount can attach to the existing warehouse structure.
Additional mounting options are available to mount on a wall or on a pole. Some allow you to articulate the antenna vertically and/or horizontally to shape signal to a specific area.