Connectivity between devices and networks is the foundation of a modern logistics. Facilities with data connectivity issues often find themselves in trouble as productivity declines and cost increases. There are many causes of these issues, we try to define several below.
Firmware is the read-only software programmed onto a hardware device. All hardware devices use this to instruct it how to interact with other devices and software. Manufacturers update their firmware every 12-18 months to fix bugs, add new features, and ensure compliance with new industry standards.
Older devices with outdated firmware can display issues such as:
- Stickiness – A device’s inability to disassociate itself with a Wi-Fi access point regardless of its current proximity to it. This results in a device attempting to send data to an out of range access point and running down its battery.
- Dead spots – Places in your warehouse where connectivity ceases and your devices continuously attempt to reconnect to the network.
- Slow responses – Updated firmware contains the latest code to optimize and speed up data transfers. Slow data transfer will decrease productivity and raise costs.
The Wi-Fi Alliance’s newest standard, Wi-Fi 6 (802.ax, High-Efficiency Wireless), was released in 2019 and is designed to provide coverage in areas of dense device concentration.
802.11ax Wi-Fi standard provides:
- Quadruples the speed of individual clients (up to 10Gbps on 5Ghz frequency band)
- Increase overall network speed by fully combining 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrum bands
- Lower power consumption
- MU-MIMO technology
To take advantage of these advances you will need to upgrade or replace existing devices. Although the standard is new, the top Enterprise grade OEM’s such as Cisco, Aruba, and Ruckus have Wi-Fi 6 compatible access points and network equipment ready today.
Full Power on access points
It’s a common misconception that if you have poor connectivity, just turn up the power on your device. Well, it doesn’t quite work that way. Too much power can cause the signal of one access point to overlap with another in a way that interferes with data transfer and confuses your mobile devices. A delicate balance has to be found and maintained for all devices to work well in a multi-access point environment.
Wrong antenna type and incorrect aiming
There are different types of antennas, each made for a specific purpose. Omni-directional antenna are designed to broadcast signal in all directions. Directional antennas are made to focus coverage to a specific area. For warehouses, directional antennas are a better choice. They should be ceiling or pole mounted and aimed to the ground where connectivity is needed.
Incorrect channel assignments
2.4GHz is the most common radio spectrum in use for warehousing. Unfortunately, it’s also the most crowded, leading to a great deal channel interference. It is recommended that only three non-overlapping channels (1, 6 and 11) be used.
RF interference from vehicle cages
A lot of equipment in use in your warehouse may be enclosed in a cage or metal mesh. This cage can substantially interfere with RF signals. This can affect forklifts, stock pickers, tow motors and more. The performance of any piece of equipment which has a wireless card (and there are more than you may realize) can be degraded. Place any antennas on the outside of the cage to improve RF performance.
Shelving and stock
Metal shelving and its contents may block and degrade RF signals. For instance, shelves containing items such as paper towels will allow RF signals to pass whereby shelves with water bottles will black signal. AP placement and standardized stock placement will help conductivity.
Using Wi-Fi to compliment 5G Connectivity
Despite advances in 5G technology, it still experiences many of the same limitations as 4G. While Wi-Fi 6 and 5G are roughly equal on most metrics, 5G signal can’t reliably penetrate buildings. This is because 5G partially relies on higher frequency 5GHz radios.
Responza can help with your data connectivity Issues
Responza’s highly trained and motivated team of technology pros can design and implement your network today. Call Responza today to find out how we can help. In Charleston call (843) 990-9200, Seattle (206) 762-5100, or click the contact link below.
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