Providing warehouses with network coverage can be challenging. Frequently, warehouse shelving racks are constructed with metal and are filled up with products made/partially made with metal. This results in ‘metal corridors’ which are notorious for causing multipath reflections and, due to the constant flux of the product storage, are highly unpredictable.

A second issue is that every warehouse has multiple pieces of mobile equipment. Providing coverage to workers on mobile equipment or the mobile equipment itself requires the ability to roam in and out of cell sizes very quickly. The metal shelving blockages can make this extremely difficult. This quick change in connectivity is constantly happening as the mobile equipment is always moving in and out of various corridors. The need for overlapping cells and the ability to stay connected at all times is a growing need, as devices and tools used in warehouses are becoming smarter and more precise.

“As with any industry, there is a growing need for greater efficiency and cost savings. A lot of the efficiency drivers in warehousing are leveraging various IIoT technologies and software. These technologies all need improved and seamless connectivity, driving the need for uninterrupted coverage,” says Teresa Huysamen, Wireless Business Unit Executive at Duxbury Networking, local distributors of Rajant technology.

Blockages of potential RF signals can easily turn a 10 Wi-Fi node warehouse into a 40 or 50 node warehouse as corridors need coverage for devices like hand scanners or mobile equipment fleet management systems. The traditional Wi-Fi solution is to add more APs, often with each of these Aps being hardwired with Ethernet or fibre optic cable, making the deployment of each new node more expensive and time consuming to deploy.

Huysamen explains that in a Rajant Kinetic Mesh®, only a few nodes need to be wired into the local area network. By wiring a few nodes, Rajant utilises its proprietary protocol, Automatic Protocol Tunnelling (APT). APT is a wired protocol that allows for multiple nodes to be connected into the same subnet, while providing loop prevention, and thus allowing for multiple LAN ingress points for information flowing from the warehouse flow to the wired network in the building.

Using Rajant, the infrastructure of the warehouse is much stronger and of equal number to that of the Wi-Fi deployment in Figure 1 — 10 nodes. By placing nodes on mobile assets in Figure 2, it allows for extended mobile coverage to cover all areas of the warehouse floor. In addition, each vehicle and infrastructure node double function as a backhaul device; building an even more robust network in a tough environment. When using Rajant in the warehouse with shelves, using both mobile assets and fixed infrastructure points, the total difference is approximately half of the number of nodes when using Rajant versus traditional Wi-Fi.


Figure 1. The image above is using those same 10 nodes in the empty warehouse. A filled warehouse presents a much more challenging environment. The traditional Wi-Fi deployment has trouble covering the corridors with the equipment deployed. Clients on mobile machines are unable to connect and entire corridors are left without coverage.


Figure 2. Placing nodes on mobile assets, as shown the image above, allows extended mobile coverages to cover all areas of the warehouse floor.

Rajant BreadCrumbs® utilise an improved duplex meshing that prevents Rajant Kinetic Mesh® networks from losing half of the bandwidth per hop. Rajant’s proprietary protocol called InstaMesh® allows packets to be received on one wireless interface and transmitted on another, and therefore they do not suffer the half-duplex issues other Wi-Fi vendors may experience. This capability allows Rajant to utilise wireless communications in hard-to-reach places without running any fibre or CAT 5/6 cable, and automatically route data through other peers back to a LAN ingress.

Mobility at its finest

With Rajant, the network provided is flexible and reliable in multiple ways. First, Rajant can equip forklifts or mobile vehicles with Rajant BreadCrumbs®. By doing so, Rajant can provide a mobile infrastructure in the warehouse that is much more powerful than any client device trying to roam. These mobile infrastructure nodes act as mobile APs and communication bridges/repeaters in areas where communications may be weak or incomplete in coverage. Rajant also utilises machine-to-machine communications, where each forklift or infrastructure node can communicate locally. With InstaMesh®’s dynamic routing protocol, packets are not required to flow in and out of a wired network or go through a route bridge or ‘smart node’, while also improving coverage with mobile infrastructure.

Instead of a low-powered client device like a table handling roaming, the high power Rajant BreadCrumbs® maintains multiple connections to every other piece of mobile infrastructure piece in range, eliminating the need to roam, and by extension, the chance for packets be dropped or lost. The advantage of turning a high-demand autonomous piece of equipment — a networking nightmare — into a mobile piece of infrastructure, is a key reason that the Rajant solution is the preferred worldwide when using smart and autonomous solutions.

Everyday more warehouses are moving toward smart and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. These smart and AI solutions are highly precise pieces of equipment that need constant communication to function properly and provide a high level of safety for workers near the equipment. The connection requirements can vary based on the application and the piece of equipment used, but a general autonomous solution will require a network connection of about 4-5 Mbps, no less than 25ms of latency and no less than four packets dropped in a row. The four packets dropped in a row is far and above the most difficult requirement to achieve and is directly related to workplace safety. If the autonomous vehicle is no longer connected nor being tracked, the location of that equipment cannot be guaranteed, resulting in a stoppage of work and a shutdown of other equipment.

Rajant is a reliability-based mesh networking system, using the patented InstaMesh® protocol, built around providing wireless service in the toughest areas on the planet. By using the mobile assets, increased range, rapid deployment, and the ability to function as a backhaul and access point simultaneously, Rajant can achieve a multifunctioning, robust, rapidly deployable, self-healing, Kinetic Mesh® network.

“Clients are increasingly open to pursuing smarter mesh solutions to solve their warehouse connectivity issues. Adoption is still in the early phases in certain markets, but as global warehousing becomes increasingly autonomous, the demand is growing. As warehousing can produce variable RF challenges, customers often request site surveys and Proof of Concepts before a full deployment,” says Huysamen.

How is Kinetic Mesh® different to Wi-Fi coverage?

  • Rajant wireless mesh networks are not traditional networks.
  • They are uniquely designed for environments and applications where client devices and even the network itself are in a state of constant change and motion.
  • Rajant utilises a multi-frequency, multi-peer mesh connection to give every node in the network the ability to talk to each other using multiple radios simultaneously.
  • Each node, or BreadCrumb®, acts as a smart wireless device, maintaining connections to every other BreadCrumb® that can be connected wirelessly or wired.
  • Packets will always have a path home, even in the toughest environments.
  • Rajant BreadCrumbs® utilise a more powerful EIRP than traditional Wi-Fi.
  • Rajant radios have a max transmit power of 28dBm.
  • Rajant standard antennas are 5dBi for 2.4 and 6dBi for 5.8 (compared to a traditional integrated antenna in standard Wi-Fi access points of 3-4dBi).
  • Rajant antennas are standalone for the radio.
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