Top tips for warehouse wireless networks

Providing Wi-Fi in warehouse environments is tough. Think about it, high ceilings, metal racking, open spaces (in WiFi terms - no thick walls) and people flying around on forklifts needing at all times to stay connected to the WiFi network. The design of the WiFi network needs to take all of these factors – and more – into consideration.

 1. Avoid placing access points on metal racks. It may seem like an easy place to deploy but there are times when you may wish to change the locations of products that are placed in the rack, however there is a good chance of damaging the access point with a forklift truck or a pallet.

2. When deciding access point broadcast placement consider the kind of material or product that will be stored in the racks in the area. Metal or water can impact wireless broadcasts significantly.

3. The access point shell material must be appropriate to the conditions of the warehouse. If your warehouse is open you may wish to employ outdoor access points instead of indoor.

4. Decide on how you wish to manage the network wireless access points as this can change the standard of roaming, for example a hardware controller to manage the local APs and roaming profiles.

5. Avoid ground cables as rodents love to chew though plastic cables. Deploying sufficient overhead cable trays can keep wires tidy and safe.

6.  External antennas will enable you to angle the broadcast signal for additional enhancement and can help to improve poor signal in some locations.

7. Find out the power requirements of each access point, ensuring that the appropriate PoE budget is met on the connecting switch. Overloading a switches PoE budget is a fast way of bringing your network to a halt.

8. Consider what other requirements you may have in the warehouse such as data point connections, access controls, VOIP phones and anything else that will have an Ethernet connection into the switch. If you plan on using the same switches for multiple types of technologies consider managed or smart switches to get the best benefits from your network.

9. Ask yourself questions. How will your network connect together? Will these use fibre connections or Ethernet cables for connectivity? Is there enough data with a single connection? Smart switches and managed switches allow for link aggregation techniques to be used to expand the amount of switching bandwidth is available.

10. Before making any final purchases consider what it is you want to do today, and what you want to do tomorrow. Leave room to expand the network and maintain easy management. Ensure there is enough redundancy in the design to keep your business functional in the event of a malfunction

Paul Routledge - D-Link
By Paul Routledge, Country Manager, D‑Link
A highly experienced networking professional, Paul Routledge has led the UK&I region of D-Link for over 5 years