CTS 120: 6 Warehouse Troubleshooting Wi-Fi Tips

Troubleshooting Wi-Fi in a warehouse environment can get complex. We outline 6 tips to help you out.

 

6 Warehouse Wi-Fi Troubleshooting Tips

Warehouse environments are tricky. They’re complex. Many factors can limit how well Wi-Fi works. There are tall racks which go as high as 30 feet or more. Depending on what kind of material is stored in those racks it can change the characteristics of the Wi-Fi signal.

In this episode, we talk about 6 Wi-Fi troubleshooting tips you should know when working in a warehouse:

Client Care

Wi-Fi clients need more love. They aren’t handled as careful as they should be in these harsh environments. Many devices are rugged at all and could affect Wi-Fi connectivity. Give these devices a physical look over for any damage. Devices also have a longer life cycle in warehouses. You’re not always working with the latest and greatest technology.

Client Configurations

Keep aware of the feature sets of the client devices. Each type of device will have different roaming thresholds or triggers in their configuration, if any. Many devices in warehouses are sensitive with the real-time application that’s being used. One thing to always look out for are the firmware versions installed.

Directional antennas

Because of the high ceilings and tall racks, directional antennas are highly recommended. With omnidirectional antennas, it may not penetrate the materials in the rack. This creates connectivity issues for scanner guns and any other type of devices used in between racks. Find out what type of material is sitting on those shelves to get an idea of attenuation. Ensure antennas are mounted properly and not on top of a rack.

Operating a Skyjack

Someone has to get up to the ceiling and install an access point or antenna. The important part here is to be aware of any licensing you may need to acquire or training you need to attend before operating a skyjack. Safety is very important in a warehouse, for yourself and others. Don’t forget any other equipment you may need such as a hard hat, safety vest, safety glasses, harness, steel toe boots, etc.

Hardware failures

Harsh environments have a negative affect on equipment. The environments, indoor or outdoor, can lower the life of a device. Be sure to do a physical check of hardware. You may seen an antenna hanging from a device because it was knocked off while on the move. There may be some failed equipment because it was in a freezer and didn’t hold up to the freezing temperatures, etc.

Retry Rate

Legacy 802.11b/g clients do not hold up well in warehouse environments relying on Wi-Fi. They don’t handle multi-path very well. This is why we recommend using updated client devices but we know it’s not always an option for a company to spend lots of money on updating aging equipment. We’ve seen up to 50% retry rates in warehouses. But with newer clients it decreases since they can handle multi-path. You may need to change your APs and/or antennas to tune for the client device in these complex environments.

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About the Author
Rowell, CWNE #210, is a network engineer in Higher-Ed. He enjoys working with wireless networking technologies and loves to share and engage with the community. You can connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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