Poor Wireless Coverage? Here are the 6 Most Common Warehouse Wi-Fi Problems

What to do if your Wi Fi network is not meeting the business challenge

In today’s fast-paced warehousing and manufacturing environments, connectivity is critical. A modern warehouse WiFi network is crucial for maintaining efficiency and productivity, and operations may not even be possible without it. Poor Wi-Fi coverage can be a persistent issue that hampers operations and leads to frustration among employees. Our team at CSSI regularly deals with Wi-Fi challenges, so we wanted to address at a high level some of the symptoms, adverse effects, common causes, and solutions for poor Wi-Fi coverage in warehouse and production facilities.

Symptoms of Poor Warehouse Network Coverage

How do you know if you have a warehouse WiFi network problem? Here are some of the symptoms which you may be experiencing:

  • Slow Connection Speeds: If your Wi Fi network speeds are consistently slow, it could be a sign of poor coverage. Your mobile applications may run slowly or transactions may time out.
  • Intermittent Connectivity: Do you frequently experience wireless device problems due to dropped connections? This can indicate coverage issues. Dropped mobile device connections may even cause application crashes and the loss of data.
  • Dead Zones: Are there certain areas of your facility where Wi-Fi signals are known to be weak or even non-existent?
  • High Latency: Does your team regularly experience delayed responses when accessing network resources or using applications? High latency is frustrating and a productivity-killer.
  • Low Wireless Signal Strength: Devices showing low signal strength indicators or fluctuating signal levels.

Adverse Effects of Poor Wireless Coverage

Poor Wi-Fi coverage can have significant adverse effects on warehouse, distribution center, and manufacturing facilities. Sometimes the team develops ‘creative’ workarounds out of necessity, but rest assured, the impact to the organization is still there. The costs of poor Wi-Fi can include:

  • Decreased Productivity: Employees spend valuable time troubleshooting connectivity issues rather than focusing on their tasks.
  • Inefficient Operations: Delayed access to inventory management systems, order processing software, and other essential tools will disrupt workflows.
  • Increased Downtime: Equipment reliant on Wi-Fi connectivity, such as barcode scanners and mobile computers, may experience downtime, leading to delays in operations. Devices may even crash, requiring reboots which cost productivity.
  • Security Risks: Weak Wi-Fi coverage can make the network more vulnerable to cyber threats and unauthorized access.
  • Customer Dissatisfaction: Delays in order processing and fulfillment due to connectivity issues can lead to dissatisfaction among customers. A slower operation is a less efficient operation, and the customer ultimately feels the effect.

Common Causes of Warehouse Wi-Fi Problems

In our experience at CSSI, there are certain common warehouse Wi Fi problems which we encounter. These include:

1. Too Few Access Points:Insufficient coverage due to a low number of access points results in gaps in network coverage.
2. Too Many Access Points:Conversely, there can be too much of a good thing — overlapping coverage areas can lead to RF interference and degraded performance.
3. Incorrect Placement of Access Points:Access points placed in areas with obstructions or interference sources, such as heavy machinery or metal structures, will impact the performance of those AP’s.
4. Incorrect Access Point Channel Assignments:Adjacent access points operating on the same channel causing interference. Orchestrating channel assignments should be thoughtful, and can be overlooked.
5. Power Levels of Access Points:Inadequate power levels leads to weak signal strength, or excessive power causes interference.
6. Outdated Access Point Hardware or Firmware:How old is your network? Aging hardware or outdated firmware can lack essential updates and features needed for optimal performance.

How to Solve Your Wi Fi Network Problems

1. Conduct a Wireless Site Survey

Perform a comprehensive site survey to identify coverage gaps, interference sources, and optimal access point placement. Site surveys are best performed by experienced Wi-Fi pros. CSSI can provide you with this service and get your site analyzed correctly.

2. Optimize Access Point Placement

Place access points strategically to ensure even WiFi coverage throughout the facility or warehouse environment, considering factors like building layout and equipment interference. A professional site survey will make recommendations for AP placement.

3. Adjust Channel Assignments

Configure wireless access points to operate on non-overlapping channels to minimize interference. Your CSSI Wi-Fi consultant can guide you on optimal channel assignments.

4. Manage Power Levels

Adjust the power levels of access points to optimize coverage without causing RF interference. This fine-tuning of your system can be guided by your Wi-Fi consultant.

5. Upgrade Hardware and Firmware

Invest in modern wireless access point hardware with advanced features and ensure firmware is up to date to benefit from improvements and security patches. CSSI can make personalized recommendations for the optimal hardware for your operation.

6. Consider Professional Assistance

Consult with CSSI’s WiFi solution experts for specialized guidance and support in troubleshooting and optimizing your wireless network.

In some cases, Wi-Fi may not even be the optimal technology for your environment. Particularly in large coverage areas and outdoor environments, it may be the case that CBRS / Private LTE is a better wireless network choice.

How To Get Help for Your Wi Fi Network Problems

Poor Wi-Fi coverage can have detrimental effects on the warehouse operation, supply chain management, and overall productivity. By understanding the symptoms, causes, and solutions outlined above, businesses can take proactive steps to address Wi Fi connection problems and ensure reliable connectivity to support their operational needs. Please contact CSSI to discuss your unique Wi-Fi challenges. We will explore the benefits of a Wi-Fi site survey or network consulting with you.

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