The role of the wireless network in efficient RFID warehouse management
RFID can solve a lot of problems for a warehouse. It’s a massively productive way to track assets in the most efficient way possible. The technology allows you to do just about anything you can do with barcode scanning but with a drastic productivity increase.
Having the right tracking software and hardware components are vital to your RFID setup — but there’s more to it. You need a reliable enterprise-class wireless network that can allow the technology to work cohesively.
We partner with Zebra Technologies for hardware. Zebra’s hardware allows you to have the best printers, RFID tags or labels, and readers on the market. We offer our RainVue cloud-based RFID software to help you track the movement of supplies, assets, and products throughout the supply chain.
With those products, you are off to a great start. But if your wireless network fails, you’re in trouble.
How RFID works over Wi-Fi
To understand the importance of the wireless network, you need to know how RFID works. RFID tags or labels are attached to your asset and tracked using a reader. The reader creates an electromagnetic field, the current flows through the antenna to wake up the chip, and the signal is transmitted back to the reader.
There are multiple types of tags but they fall in two groups, active and passive. An example of active technology is the beaconing active tag. It sends short messages at specific intervals and provides location updates. The Zebra Beacons use low energy blue tooth technology because the low energy consumption provides long battery life.
The most prevalent tag type is the passive tag, as the cost per tag can be as low as a few pennies. The passive tag is almost always used with the ubiquitous 802.11xx wireless standard, and it is hard to find a business that does not have 802.11 hardware, software and personnel in place. The readers for these passive tags transmit and receive using 802.11 standards. As long as you have a solid wireless network, this gives you a great advantage. The wireless network you use for such things as laptop communications can now be used for RFID.
The value is in the wireless network
RFID will always feature the adoption of new chips and tracking systems. But having a solid Wi-Fi network gives you the platform to take advantage of the latest technology changes now and into the future.
If you are a wireless network administrator, your job has changed over the years as businesses have relied more and on WLANs for communications, applications and inventory management.
If your company is using RFID technology or thinking about adopting it, this increases the number of pressures you face. Your WLAN has now become a mission-critical piece to your business. You can’t take inventory if the Wi-Fi is down. You need total wireless connectivity through your buildings. And if you’re not using RFID yet, you need to ensure your network will conform to the specifications of the hardware you are about to invest in.
When we work with companies on updating or installing wireless networks, we provide an end-to-end solution that helps relieve the overwhelm involved with getting a wireless network installed on time and within budget.
What to look for when evaluating wireless networks
Our 7-point process is an excellent guide when looking for a wireless service provider to help you with your network. By following it, you’ll get the required bandwidth needed, user density and vendor specifications to make the process easier. Our process has helped everyone from warehouses to high-density classrooms. Since each client situation is different, we know a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work.
Instead, we follow this process:
● Site Survey: An onsite assessment that provides the customer with a robust wireless network design, list of required hardware, and recommendations for deployment success.
● Audit: A complete analysis of a customer’s existing wireless infrastructure and RF environment, including a report that outlines existing anomalies, coverage deficiencies, sources of interference, and recommendations for optimal performance.
● Troubleshooting: A more detailed approach that focuses on a more granular issue that a customer is experiencing. The plan may include throughput testing, packet capture and analysis, or other techniques for diagnosing the root cause and solution for an issue.
● Spectrum Analysis: A view of the Radio Frequency (RF) environment, which includes both Wi-Fi and non-Wi-Fi sources of activity, interference, and overall utilization within the affected wireless frequencies.
● Installation: From sourcing wireless and mounting hardware to cabling, this task entails complete physical deployment of the WLAN as per a sound wireless design.
● Configuration/Commissioning: After physical installation of wireless components, configuration of all wireless controllers and/or standalone devices.
● Client device Integration or Migration: Re-configuring existing clients as necessary to function at their highest level on the WLAN, as well as providing instruction to users.
If you need help with wireless networking, we have many decades of experience at Versona Systems helping clients like you finding the right solution. Give us a call today.