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Troubleshooting the Logistics of IT

May 17, 2021
Common warehouse tech issues and how to solve them.

Every day, warehouses and supply chains experience technology issues that grind production to a halt and deal major blows to bottom lines. In such fast-paced environments, where demands are constantly evolving and productivity is everything, there is no room for downtime caused by technical issues.

Since warehouses and supply chains are always pushing for faster operations, there is a growing need for networks that can keep up with current and future demands. Here are three warehouse technology issues to examine as you seek to improve network performance:

1. Wireless Network: Look for Instabilities

The issues: Instability in the warehouse is the most common warehouse technology issue for the industry. Wireless instability can cause poor coverage throughout the warehouse, often leading to network connection issues. A sure sign of instability is when handheld computers and devices are regularly disconnecting, which triggers increased downtime.

There are several things that can cause wireless instability, such as connection dead zones, which are a critical indicator that your network was poorly planned from the start. A lack of standardized equipment or configuration are further contributors to network instability.

If the original technology provider was not well-versed in implementing a wireless network specifically for warehouses or supply chains, they may not have been familiar with the challenges of connectivity in these environments.

The solutions: A wireless site assessment of your facility should be performed by a qualified wireless network specialist. An assessment will pinpoint the cause of these issues, and a reputable networking provider can address these warehouse-specific issues and standardize your network.

2. IT Infrastructure: Is it Right for You?

The issues:  IT infrastructure is comprised of the computers, servers, software, and devices that your team uses every day, so without a functional IT infrastructure, operations can suffer. A bad infrastructure means it can be more difficult to collect, process, store, and share mission-critical data. When overlooked, warehouses can experience slow network speeds, unreliable devices and software, and poor computer and server performance. Potential security breaches are also a problem.

If the infrastructure was poorly constructed or incorrectly implemented, devices can potentially fail. Many times, the reason for this is the result of trying to reduce costs, which leads to operational deficiencies. When this happens, even the most cutting-edge devices can be sluggish and finicky.

The solutions: To rectify the situation, a wireless site survey can help. A technology consulting expert will help you identify ideal locations and the number of access points required for adequate coverage.

It’s also critical to select the right IT platform and architecture. A warehouse’s needs are more complex than a traditional office network, so industrial-grade access points are required to withstand the warehouse environment.

Even though we’re talking about a wireless network, you may also want to assess your WLAN and network cabling infrastructure. A survey of these components can point you towards further IT infrastructure issues.

3. Tech Management: Support for Your System

The issues: Once you have all the components of your wireless network in place, you still need to manage it. With effective management and maintenance for your technology solutions, you can limit downtime and unexpected maintenance while monitoring wireless network activity. Further, any problems that may exist could eventually lead to technology failures and security breaches.

The Solutions: Whenever your operation is live, you should have a tech support team available—either in-house or via on-call service. With a tech support team on guard, you can ensure your system and staff are online and running at full speed.

For security issues, it’s important to catch breaches early. With the right technology management system and staff in place, these can be identified early and resolved.

According to a Compuware study, 52% of responders classified supply chain operations as critically dependent on technology operating effectively. This means that any issues with technology that reduce downtime can be detrimental to your operation. It’s crucial to ensure that your warehouse has a management system in place to detect issues before they arise, maintain tight security, and keep software up-to-date.

Your first step

With the above checklist in hand, you now have a starting point for reassessing the quality and functionality of your wireless system. At Peak-Ryzex, we deal with these reassessments all the time and know it all boils down to what the original installer did or didn’t do to ensure long-term functionality. The key is to plan for future growth and have the capacity for new demands to be made of the network.

About the Author

Edwin A. Ringle III is a Sr. Solutions Consultant for Peak-Ryzex and has over 25 years of experience working with rugged mobile computing and WLAN networks in industrial supply chain settings. Ed is a member of the IEEE committee and holds a portfolio of technology certifications for mobile computing and wireless technologies.