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Warehouse challenges in wi-fi deployment

Veronica C. Silva | April 9, 2012
Improved inventory management noted after wi-fi implementation

Wi-fi solutions provider Ruckus Wireless has announced that major warehouses worldwide are using their solutions to facilitate efficient inventory management.

Topmost among these warehouses is one of the US's biggest warehouses, WOW Logistics, which has noted efficient logistics management after implementing the Ruckus ZoneFlex system.

Ruckus Wireless explained that implementing a wi-fi solution in a warehouse is challenging because of the physical structure of warehouses and the items found inside these warehouses. Yet, companies with warehouses which rely on efficient inventory management need real-time inventory, which is why a wi-fi system is deemed as an effective solution.

Aside from the physical challenges in the warehouse, such as the use of metal structures, one of the major challenges in implementing wi-fi in a warehouse is the presence of many RF (radio frequency) devices, some of them conflicting each other's signals.

"Wi-fi is a cost-effective way for distributors to make their warehouse processes more efficient by allowing universal access to real-time inventory information and eliminating counting and picking errors.  However, the inability to maintain consistent and high-speed wi-fi connections to weak handheld scanner and bar code readers has hampered its effectiveness," explained Ruckus Wireless of the challenge in implementing wi-fi in warehouses.

Problems resolved

Ruckus said WOW Logistics standardised on Ruckus ZoneFlex 802.11n products and technologies which are now being installed in warehouses in Wisconsin, Illinois and Idaho in the U.S. The goal is to deploy more than 400 access points to support the company's operations.

Ruckus said its solution has helped WOW Logistics address issues relating to wireless instability, coverage and performance.

"Warehousing environments are brutal on wi-fi because everything is always changing and these spaces are full of materials that just kill wi-fi signals," said Dave Christianson, network administrator, WOW Logistics.  "We literally have 640-pound blocks of cheese that we store in solid steel drive-in racks. Try getting wi-fi to work, and work well, with water and steel.  It was a nightmare."

WOW will see the Ruckus ZoneFlex 7962 dual-band 802.11n deployed for access points for their indoor requirements, and the ZoneFlex 7762 dual-band 802.11n APs for outdoor applications.

Aside from WOW Logistics, other prominent international companies that have standardised on the  Ruckus ZoneFlex system include Singapore's Gucci and Charles & Keith; Brazil's Peixoto Atacadista, ALAN Textiles, and C&C; India's Gujarat Petro Chemicals, TVS Motors, Adani Group, Arvind Group, and Wellspun Industries; and Turkey's AKAT Cosmetics and ALAN Textiles, to name a few from Ruckus' list.


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