Connectivity considerations for your warehouse build
With wireless-enabled devices now the norm in warehouse environments, establishing a reliable and strong Wi-Fi connection is essential for all builds.
Good connectivity synchronises staff and systems across vast spaces and lays the foundations for big data analysis, enhanced automation and efficient logistics tracking. Any modern warehouse that employs the latest technologies needs to get connectivity right at the build stage. Get it wrong, and the finished project will be plagued by dead zones, buffering and broken connections – costing time and money.
To avoid issues and develop a warehouse with business-ready connectivity, consider these four issues from the start.
Location and design
Where your warehouse is situated can have a big impact on connectivity. While no barrier is insurmountable, they will need to be considered early on if you are to get the kind of streamlined experience warehouse operators need.
For example, warehouses built away from signal towers may need more Ethernet switches, access points and signal boosters than those in urban and well-connected environments.
You may also face issues if all or part of your warehouse is situated underground, or is otherwise near physical barriers that are known to interrupt signal. Even the materials used in warehouse builds can impact signal strength.
The largest warehouses will also need to consider mounting locations for access points, as some designs like attaching to ceiling rafters could create dead zones on the warehouse floor, causing issues for staff and machinery alike.
Non-industrial hardware is not going to cut it in a warehouse environment. But the right combination of good building design and ruggedized industrial Ethernet switches and access points can deliver high-performance Gigabit Ethernet across the whole warehouse.
Modern warehouse management systems integrate inputs across multiple technologies and touchpoints. If you want machinery, sensors, sorters, cameras, conveyors and smart mobile devices to talk effectively to each other in real time, each component must be cross-compatible and work well with your existing systems.
When you get integration right, management can closely monitor all systems and operations and make on-the-spot decisions that improve business. The data that is produced can then be analysed and fed seamlessly back into the network to improve safety and efficiency over the long term.
The security of your facility will already be a top priority. But including connected hardware in your build makes physical security even more important and means cyber security should be taken just as seriously.
Not only will you need to ensure your systems are secure from outside threats, but you will also need internal, tiered management options to restrict access to certain departments and individuals across the business.
So, you’ll need a system with end-to-end management and smooth communication between warehouse floor inputs and upper layers like supervisory control and data acquisition, as well as warehouse control systems and existing cloud services.
Industrial security appliances can provide the kind of agile mechanisms you need. Ones that meet the dual requirements of high integration and communication segmentation across the system.
Good connectivity also enhances security by enabling the use of Location-Based Services (LBS). These provide an automated way for warehouse management systems to track items, devices and assets using geolocation and geo-fencing technologies, which minimise instances of theft.
Even at the build stage, it’s important to future-proof warehouse systems. By choosing one with in-built scalability, you’ll find expanding an existing warehouse or acquiring and integrating additional sites quick and simple.
To get it right from the start, choose a system with multi-tier architecture that separates core, distribution and access requirements. By doing so, you’ll cost-effectively meet initial project needs, while remaining flexible enough to scale in the face of increased demand. And you’ll do so without the need to redesign the systems, which would otherwise cost time and money.
Connectivity is an unavoidable consideration of every modern warehouse build. Right from the start, you’ll need to think about how issues like the location and design of your building, physical and cyber security, software and hardware integration and project scalability will be affected by your network choice.
But with good planning and input from our experts, you can build a fully connected warehouse that is ready for the demands of business.
To discuss your requirements, reach out to our connectivity team today.