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I work at a medium-sized retail company, and we'll be moving warehouse sometime early this year. One requirement that we have for the new warehouse is that we need a proper, stable wireless network covering the entire warehouse area, since we work a lot with web-based tools which require constant connectivity. A rough estimate says that it's about 10 meters high, and maybe 50 x 50 meters along the walls. In our current warehouse, which is of similiar height, we have a couple of HP MSM430 mounted to beams in the ceiling, and controlled by a HP MSM710 controller. This setup has proven unstable and spotty in it's connectivity, which puts a bit of pressure on us to get it right this time.

We're using UniFi AP Pro's in our retail locations, and they've proven reliable so far, but I'm concerned about how well they'll perform in a warehouse environment since there'll be greater distances to cover (if they're mounted to the ceiling), and more devices connected to them than in a store.

What I've come up with so far is to use UniFi AP Pro's, and have the access points mounted in the ceiling, placed above the "aisles" between the shelves, two APs per aisle. There's 10 aisles, and I'm planning on "shifting" the placement in the ceiling along the aisles so that every odd row has the access points lined up with eachother, which I imagine will give better overall coverage. Simple illustration:

|   |   |   |   |
|   |   |   |   |
|   | o |   | o |
|   |   |   |   |
|   |   |   |   |
|   |   |   |   |
| o |   | o |   |
|   |   |   |   |
|   |   |   |   |
|   |   |   |   |
|   | o |   | o |
|   |   |   |   |
|   |   |   |   |
|   |   |   |   |
| o |   | o |   |
|   |   |   |   |
|   |   |   |   |

Is this a sound idea, or is there better ways to do this?

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Hire a professional who has warehouse experience. If you were using an enterprise vendor, I would suggest looking at their consulting services as they have probably done this with their products a number of times.

Warehouses and stadiums are considered the two most difficult wireless environments to work in with 802.11. There are many factors that make warehouse areas very difficult to work in, for instance, open spaces combined with metal rack shelving, the long thin aisles that can channel energy further than you suspect, the adding/removing of invenorty that changes the environment on a continual basis, etc.

Without the proper tools and experience, you are simply gambling on your wireless network. It may work, but odds are you will have strange issues, issues in certain locations, and other unforseen problems.

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  • Also be aware of radios with a direct LOS to each other, RRM will turn down the power and cause coverage holes on the floor. – cpt_fink Jun 6 '15 at 6:16
  • @cpt_fink, you are correct with default RRM settings; however I have had good success tweaking RRM to allow more cell overlap and adjacent APs in industrial settings (obviously coming with the tradeoff of more co-channel interference). For us, it was a good solution because coverage was more important than absolute throughput, and there were many restrictions on where we could put APs – This Jun 6 '15 at 16:26
  • This is not an answer to the question. – Ronnie Royston Jun 19 '15 at 17:06
  • @RonRoyston, if you feel that way, then flag it, comments are not the way to address that concern. However, the question was "Is this a sound idea, or is there a better way to do this?" My answer is essentially that there is a better way and that is to hire a professional (along with reasoning behind my answer) and this was accepted by the OP. – YLearn Jun 19 '15 at 23:12
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The operating temperature is advertised to be sufficient (14 to 131° F) per the data sheet but the antennas are integrated omni-directional. A common approach to warehouses is to use directional antennae to direct the signal down aisles (along with adjusting the power level of the radios).

So, to answer your question, no those are not the right AP's. A better way is go use directional antennae.

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  • 2
    I agree that directional antenna is most likely required and the described approach is definitely common, although other models seem to be becoming more popular depending on the situation. This seems to be especially true in warehouses where location tracking has become important and the directional antenna down the aisle approach isn't always accurate enough. I would still recommend that anyone planning to provide coverage in a warehouse hire a professional with warehouse experience for best results. – YLearn Jun 6 '15 at 5:05
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Your setup seems reasonable to me but I do not have any experience setting up networks in a warehouse environment. Two things that I would caution you to think about when implementing the network though are these: 1) any interference that may come from metal shelving units or products that could interrupt the wireless signal and 2) interference or crosstalk caused by the lights or other electrical lines running along the ceilings where you plan to position the APs.

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