Warehouses and distribution centers are under increasing pressure to move more cargo faster, and the industry is responding with faster, better solutions to automate tedious workflows and streamline operations. As you consider or move forward with your warehouse modernization project, it’s good to take a step back and get a clear view of what could hold back your modernization efforts. For example, could your aging wireless network be a weak point?
As older mobile technologies like Windows Mobile and Windows CE become obsolete, newer technologies like Android are picking up the slack. But as organizations step forward with updated operating systems for their mobile devices, they may inadvertently trip themselves up with legacy wireless networks that don’t take advantage of Android’s connectivity and security benefits.
With more than 85 percent of devices used in warehousing and distribution operations having already transitioned from Windows to Android, it’s little wonder that 70 percent of warehouses are experiencing chronic wireless network problems. As more modern devices are connected to aging networks, the ability to keep devices secure and connected becomes more challenging.
To take advantage of the productivity and security benefits of new mobile technologies, your warehouse modernization effort should include a wireless network that adapts to change. For example, Android’s high-speed connectivity won’t provide a benefit if your wireless network can’t handle the higher speeds.
If your network is struggling to keep pace, it may be time to evaluate your current wireless network infrastructure. A wireless site assessment from a team of warehouse mobility experts can help you pinpoint specific problems that may be holding you back and identify opportunities that you can seize to make the most of your mobile technology. For example, when conducting wireless site assessments, our engineers often find that wireless network power is set too low or too high. We also frequently find channel congestion, configuration errors, firmware issues, rogue devices, and devices in need of repair. We also find that the source of these common issues is that the network isn’t designed and installed by warehouse modernization experts, but vendors more familiar with designing wireless networks for office environments.
Wireless networks need to scale efficiently to allow organizations to add more traffic to their networks without disrupting operations. It’s expected that by 2021, 150 million industrial IoT devices will be online. These new network endpoints must be secured just like any other endpoint. You can’t automatically trust them. And, as networks age, their ability to secure new devices at the edge of the network can be limited. This new traffic will be in addition to the many wireless devices already being deployed throughout the industry.
To better understand what needs to be secured as your warehouse modernization moves forward, it’s good to identify every point of entry at the edge of your network and know what they’re communicating with to identify high-risk vulnerabilities that should be patched. Assets that don’t talk to each other can be placed on isolated network segments to reduce the risk of attack. So, when embarking on a warehouse modernization project, it’s a good idea to get a realistic picture of how that will affect your security posture.
As more devices connect to your network, congestion can become a problem. This will be especially true as more industrial IoT devices come online. Network congestion can negate the expected benefits of adding modern devices to the network. If connectivity problems arise as a result of congestion, your ability to keep the data and work flowing will become more challenging.
The upshot here is that new devices are only as useful and effective as the network they connect to. If the network can’t handle the traffic or secure your edge devices properly, the ROI of your warehouse modernization can be severely eroded. If the goal is to fulfill more orders faster, new equipment on an old network may not get you there.
Wireless networks are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Because each warehouse environment is different, your warehouse modernization plan should include a customized wireless network solution designed and built to handle your space’s unique characteristics and your company’s unique technology setup. Your wireless network should be scalable to handle future needs, reliable enough to stay connected to everything at all times, and have latency low enough to keep work flowing.
Warehouse modernization is top-of-mind across the industry. As warehouse throughput increases, the ability to handle the load — today and tomorrow — will depend on how your technology performs day in and day out. Upgrading equipment is a good start. But running updated equipment on outdated networks will create problems at some point.
Start preparing your solution today. Contact Peak-Ryzex to help you design or upgrade a wireless network that can handle the traffic and keep your data and operations secure.