Mesh Networks Accelerate Potential for Warehouse Automation


Mesh networking is an optimal solution for accelerating modern warehouses into the era of Industry 4.0 while ensuring excellent safety, network security, and productivity.

Industry 4.0 is becoming increasingly common in the manufacturing and material handling industries. Industry 4.0 is essentially the idea of “smart” technologies being implemented alongside or replacing human workers to facilitate industrial operations. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) concept is now possible through the supportive services necessary for deployment. Now network technology, digital technology, and software development have reached a point where common appliances, tools, and production machines can be interlinked, controlled, and relay data with a central control system. 

A sufficient wireless network is the most critical aspect of IIoT devices and Industry 4.0. While interconnected, numerous devices and applications must utilize a robust wireless network to operate correctly. Network connectivity can be considered the fuel for these advanced robotic platforms, such as autonomous racking and fire safety systems. Autonomous robots and intelligent systems helping warehouse operations have already been shown to improve safety and efficiency and help boost volume capacity. The more smart tech utilized in these ways, the more network technology will become mission-critical for warehouse operations. Therefore, global markets must adopt the most optimal network technology for modern industry.

Advanced self-optimizing mesh network technology has already demonstrated, beyond public broadband or centralized Wi-Fi alternatives, to be incredibly effective at ensuring operational security. The network can cover every inch of warehouses of varying sizes, is powerful enough to allow multiple systems to utilize it simultaneously, and can maintain coverage during emergencies or unforeseen circumstances. Because mesh networking is the optimal choice to connect modern warehouse operations, industry 4.0 will expand in practice with further adoption of mesh network technology. Mesh networking will achieve the highest productivity, security, and safety levels in modern warehouses.

See also: Companies Falling Behind with Smart Manufacturing

More extensive range of coverage through greater versatility in setup

According to the International Monetary Fund research, the largest warehouses and manufacturing plants tend to implement more advanced technologies and higher, more educated workers. The larger the warehouse space, the more difficult it is to reach all necessary points with wireless connectivity. When dealing with centralized Wi-Fi, extensive and costly infrastructure will be needed at multiple points within the space so that every device can reach a router while working. If the warehouse or workspace is significantly large or obstructed, this infrastructure could come with a hefty price tag, take up a lot of space, and be difficult to adjust once installed.

Central Wi-Fi routers are like someone shouting orders across a room trying to reach the other end; mesh networks share a message with the closest people to the source, who then relay that information to the nearest people to them until the intended person hears it. The range of WI-FI is limited and can impact business operations. With a mesh network,  enough nodes in a given space can guarantee that data can travel throughout an entire area. There is simple infrastructure because the nodes fit the wireless devices they connect. And BreadCrumbs can move freely about a space because they are always connected to several other nearby nodes. This capability overcomes physical obstacles and RF obstructions.

See also: Robots Aiding Digital Transformation in Textiles

Perks of exclusive, scalable, low-cost networks

Signal range is not the only issue resolved using a mesh network; capacity is also addressed. For instance, too much traffic can cause high latency and limit essential operations with public broadband signals. A mesh network is a private network that can only be accessed by the devices to which nodes are connected, which reduces inefficiencies caused by slow network speeds. When using autonomous and remote-controlled robots, mesh networks ensure that devices remain online and actively working.

Mesh networks are for all businesses. Compared to alternative network solutions, an advanced mesh network is substantially more cost-effective and can be scaled to meet the exact needs of a business. A mesh structure can comprise more than 200 nodes providing coverage to a large area but can also be only three or four for smaller operations. When your business expands, so too can your network.

The abilities of mesh networks to guarantee capacity and scale to the exact needs of a business are significant advantages over alternative solutions. Even better, through intelligent software integrated into each radio, if one node malfunctions or is damaged in the structure, the other nodes will reroute data to ensure it does not impact connectivity. Not only does this provide greater network assurance, but it also allows managers to perform maintenance on specific nodes without interrupting connectivity, increasing the average lifespan of each.

The safety net of linked antennas

More than autonomous robotics and improved communication, modern warehouses are better equipped with safety technology to identify, isolate, and correct emergencies quickly. Fires, product spillage, worker injuries, or theft can be monitored and responded to faster through Industry 4.0, powered by mesh networking. A fire detected by a sensor connected via a node can trigger sprinkler systems and rapid emergency alerts to employees. Smart devices, such as wearable biometric rings or watches, can alert a floor manager when a team member is unalert or injured, allowing them to respond appropriately.

Increased productivity is essential, but safety is the greatest concern in warehouses. In 2021, the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported “over 2.6 million nonfatal injuries and 5,190 fatal work-related deaths.” Increased safety is critical for manufacturing, trade, transportation, and warehousing because these sectors accounted for over a million injury cases in 2021. The smart technology adopted by modern warehouses and industrial workplaces makes things safer, but they cannot perform to expectations without a reliable network powering them.

What is apparent is that mesh networking will grow as a preferred technology in several industries over the next decade. This technology’s benefits are easy to discern and may provide even further advantages as more systems emerge that it can support. Automation, smart tech, and robotics are becoming more pervasive across industries; managers and business owners will want to choose the best option to power those tools. With all the discussed advantages that mesh networks provide, it is clear why several research firms are predicting significant growth for the sector in the coming years.

With the differences between mesh networks and alternative technologies laid bare, the value of this technology is apparent, especially in dangerous industries where automation is quickly taking hold. Mesh networking is the most optimal solution for accelerating modern warehouses into the era of Industry 4.0 while ensuring excellent safety, network security, and productivity. But beyond warehouses, this advanced wireless connectivity can help power businesses in a way once thought of as science fiction. From agriculture to healthcare to public safety, there is an enormous need for robust and reliable connectivity, and mesh networks can be the solution.

Justin Warren

About Justin Warren

Justin Warren is a senior member of Rajant Corporation’s product deployment team. He specializes in Rajant’s Kinetic Mesh Wireless Network Nodes, known as BreadCrumbs®. He is an experienced Sales Director with demonstrated success working in both the wireline & wireless industries. Justin possesses strong sales professional skills in Negotiation, Budgeting, Operations Management, Sales, and Supply Chain Management.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *