A few months ago, we were having some internal training at the EMP Tech Group and the subject was wireless networking. We were reminded of a few things, first how deep our knowledge is here at EMP on wireless networks for warehousing, and manufacturing. Second, how different it is designing a wireless network for fast moving, mobile devices, versus stationary devices.
We frequently are called into a customer site due to connectivity issues in their facilities specifically connectivity issues with their mobile printers or computers. When we arrive we find that there is a gross oversaturation of access points at the customer site. This was done by a wireless network provider who designed the network for stationary devices that have a need for strong signal strength and high data bandwidth.
The problem is that the customer is running fast moving, mobile devices, that don’t need anywhere near the signal strength, or bandwidth of stationary devices. As a matter of fact, this over concentration of access points is the main reason that the customer is having connectivity issues.
As mobile devices move around the warehouse or shop floor, they need fast roaming. A network that has a sporadic population of access points is far better and these AP’s need to be configured to hand the devices off to the next access point as quickly as possible.
High bandwidth, stationary devices need access points that hang onto the connection for as long as possible. A heavy concentration of access points is beneficial, since one AP can only handle so much data bandwidth, meaning that multiple access points that are visible in a certain area is beneficial. But this is a detriment with fast roaming devices. Too many access points being visible to a mobile device complicates the hand off process, and actually slows the wireless communications down.
Another problem that we frequently see is a lack of large identification markings on the access points. When an AP is in the warehouse, or the shop floor, it can be 30 to 50 feet up in the air. Large, clearly visible markings become a must when trying to identify an access point from the floor level. EMP has developed a backer board to mount the AP, antennas, and identification letters, we use the boards in all of our wireless installations.
This all starts with the wireless site survey. A provider that has the latest tools and the knowledge of how to design the network for mobile devices is key. The EMP Tech Group is just such a provider. You can find all of this and more on our web site: Wireless Networking.