WLAN for a Warehouse

Unanswered Question
Apr 1st, 2009

Hi,

We are taking over a new warehouse in the next few months. The business has a requirement for total Wireless Coverage on the Warehouse shop floor for use by stock pickers (with mobile devices). The key challenge I see here is the fact that the racking will block/reflect the RF signal. This can be addressed by using many many APs with directional antennae. I was wondering if anyone out there has any other tips for deploying a WLAN in a warehouse environment.

Cheers

Marcus

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jeff.kish Wed, 04/01/2009 - 06:58

I have quite a bit of experience with warehouses, and as you say you need to keep shelving in mind as you deploy your APs. Directional antennas might not be the best idea, or at least might not be the only type of antenna you'll want to deploy.

My advice:

1. Use the 1240/1250 series (depending on whether you want 802.11n or not). If you deploy 1240s, make sure to install two antennas on each one, as this greatly helps with multipath in warehouses.

2. Do a site survey - this is absolutely essential, I can't stress this enough.

Leo Laohoo Wed, 04/01/2009 - 14:34

Hi Marcus,

Jeff's got a good point.

If I may be allowed to make some additions, how do you plan to power your AP's? Will you be using a Wireless LAN Controller?

AP's (1240 for instance) require 15.4 watts of power. You can get a PoE switch, power brick/injector or a mid-span switch. The 1250, in Autonomous mode, requires 18.4 watts of power. If you are using a Wireless LAN Controller, the 1250 can operate at 15.4 watts of power.

1240/1250 series are "ruggedized" version AP's. They have full metal enclosures and have multiple antennaes. During the pre-purchase stage, you have the option to choose a wide assortment of antenna to employ from Rubber Duckies to the rods and (the extreme) the dish.

I am not sure if this has been brought up to you but with a Wireless LAN, you can also gain the optional benefit of two other functions:

1. Wireless VoIP;

2. Asset Location and/or Asset Tracking

Hope this helps.

mscherting Mon, 04/06/2009 - 12:30

I've only done one warehouse, but it was a liquor warehouse with pallets of booze, stacked and on shelves. Needed coverage for stock pickers with Symbol handhelds.

I used autonomous 1231s with pairs of 5db stick antennas in diversity mode spaced about 8X the 2.4ghz wavelength, 38", (even multiple) apart to cover the more open areas.

In some corners & back aisles I also used directional diversity patch antennas on articulating mounts to shoot down the aisles.

I took my laser rangefinder along on the site survey to get fairly accurate distance measurements without getting run over by a forklift.

Ended up running fiber out to a pole in the center where I put a small PoE switch to keep Ethernet runs within spec.

I believe I surveyed with radios at 1/2 - 2/3 max power.

Having a good floor plan with all the shelving laid out helped a lot.

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