25 January 2019

Rugged mobile devices in the warehouse

Over the last decade, the level of connectivity offered by the mobile devices that we carry with us has evolved from a luxury feature to an essential part of our everyday lives.  

With that in mind, it’s little surprise that connectivity has become just as essential in the workplace. It’s especially important in environments where mobile workers rely on the connectivity between the mobile device they use and a central management system in order to do their job.  

In many warehouse situations for example, staff use a mobile device to receive job information from a Warehouse Management System (WMS). Then, once they have completed the tasks as requested, they simply upload information back to the WMS wirelessly.

This ensures a simple, effective and efficient flow of information that removes the need for time consuming admin or paper-based form filling. But the exchange of digital information can grind to a halt if connectivity is not available for any reason.

The problem is that warehouse Wi-Fi in particular can be a challenging and often frustrating barrier to overcome in order to achieve reliable connections. Often the problems are relatively minor and could have been avoided if devices were chosen and pre-configured for their end use.  

But when installing wireless infrastructure there are many options to consider, and each piece of the puzzle must be carefully chosen if the final outcome is to be a true success. A site survey to identify any potential issues is often the best way to ensure an installation goes smoothly.  

Warehouses are complex environments, and unexpected interference is a common occurrence if new technology is not installed or set up correctly.  

Here we look at some of the typical issues that can affect connectivity in the warehouse.    

Dealing with rugged mobile computer settings

A lot of the issues that we have seen around connectivity problems actually stem from new mobile devices that have been selected to use in a warehouse environment.

When devices are purchased off the shelf from retailers they are often not set up correctly for the job for which they are intended.

Getting the settings right on a device is not as simple as it may first seem, as advanced options can be hard to find. Fine tuning is often needed to make a device more effective for the job at hand.

An incorrectly set up device can impact connectivity. For example, some rugged devices have a sleep mode built into their radio. This means if the devices are inactive for a while they can go into sleep mode, cutting the flow of data.

At TouchStar we can help alleviate these issues as we pre-configure devices according to how they will be operated in order to achieve seamless deployment and continuous usage.    

Choosing the right access point specification

Choosing the correct grade access points is vital to achieve consistent connectivity. An incorrect or sub-optimal installation can have a crippling effect if it’s not fit for purpose.

The importance of purchasing enterprise grade access points cannot be underestimated if you want to ensure a reliable connection for all of your staff.

You can imagine the situation of a warehouse employee using a truck mounted device but losing connection as they quickly move from one location in the warehouse to another. That’s the impact of non-enterprise access points that are not designed for roaming.

It is also important to make sure that appropriate antennas are selected for the environment they are intended for, whether it be internal or external.

Working with a trusted partner to identify and install the correct access points can make the process much easier and remove any chance of encountering stubborn problems, offering piece of mind and confidence in the solution 

Correct positioning of access points  

Getting the right access points for the job is one thing, but ensuring they are correctly placed is another issue that is often overlooked, resulting in limited connectivity and other issues.  

Positioning and height should be considered early on in any wireless infrastructure installation or upgrade. At TouchStar, we provide a thorough survey of the site to ensure reliable coverage and the adherence of best practice principles.

For example, many access points will be affected by the height at which they are placed due to their antenna pattern. Despite this, they are often mounted to the ceilings in warehouses – meaning they can be two or three times higher than the maximum recommended height of five metres.

This can affect coverage and mean that some locations that were expected to be connected zones may actually be blackout zones instead.  


Using the latest standards TouchStar can deliver secure, high performance wireless coverage. TouchStar can take you through the steps to create the “best fit" real time solution that will deliver real competitive advantage to your operational processes.

Please contact us on +44 (0) 161 874 5050 for more information and to discuss your needs with our wireless infrastructure experts. We offer a complete range of wireless network planning, survey, implementation and support services - fully priced solutions will be provided upon the results of our site surveys.

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