Case Studies

Connected Coast to Coast: Synchronizing Wireless for a Distribution Company’s 60+ Warehouses

Wireless is the lifeline of warehousing and distribution. Think about it: Every item that enters, moves through, and leaves a warehouse or distribution center must be accounted for – scanned – by a wireless computing device. When wireless underperforms, pallets can’t leave; morale, schedules, and profits suffer. 

It’s what was happening at a distribution company whose wireless woes had hit a fever pitch.  

Knowing Velaspan had successfully developed networks for other warehousing entities with locations nationwide, they reached out to us with an urgent request for help. We quickly became the solution.

The Challenge

When we met, most of the company’s 100+ regional distribution facilities across 30-plus states were experiencing some degree of wireless problems. Velaspan troubleshooting revealed a variety of causes: Some wireless networks suffered from outdated design; others from design that was never well-executed or right-fit to start. Patchwork-style “fixes” only added insult to injury. 

The overarching culprit, though, was an unchangeable one: Extreme disparity from one facility to the next. Differences in building layouts, stored materials (frozen goods versus dry goods, for example) and facility function had made standardized company-wide wireless near-impossible for our client to imagine, let alone develop and implement on their own. Limited IT expertise onsite at most facilities hadn’t helped, nor had the fact that networks were what we call “consistently inconsistent”: Different vintages from one to the next, many featuring equipment of varying generations from multiple vendors.

Diving In

With 60-plus facilities in our purview, Velaspan began meeting with company leadership and employees at every tier to exhaustively understand business needs. What were their frustrations? How did each department define wireless success? How does each department use the network (critical to understanding the minimum level of support needed across the board)? What types of products do they handle? How are those products stored? 

Once top-to-bottom business requirements were defined, we moved onto technical requirements, asking questions about every possible use case. An example is coverage in trailers at loading docks. Many clients don’t consider connectivity in these spaces until it’s too late to weave it seamlessly into design. Having worked across countless verticals and with enough distribution clients specifically, Velaspan knew to ask this and other questions before designing, ensuring all hypotheticals were accounted for in the final product. 

Armed with a 360-degree understanding, we went to our proverbial drawing boards and developed an airtight common wireless network solution for every and all unique scenarios the company might encounter moving forward. 

Putting the Plan in Place

Once this standardized but flexible wireless network design was approved, Velaspan began implementing it in warehouses whose wireless was most egregiously outdated and underperforming. Keeping with our proven process, we kicked off at each location with a site survey whose findings informed exact placement of every single wireless access point – generally 50 to 100 per site. 

The Outcome

Once each warehouse site was installed and performance-validated, its respective wireless networks was launched. Each immediately surpassed expectations, solving wireless-related problems within the facility and solidifying these new designs as benchmarks for future needs and designs enterprise-wide. Once deployed, we turned the network over to our client’s internal operational team. Working with wireless that is far more supportable than its predecessor, those teams have successfully managed it since, engaging with Velaspan as needed for insights on life cycle management (critical to ensuring the networks remain supportable). The cacophony of complaints corporate once received about wireless has disappeared. Above all, the distribution company now has the high-performance connections it needs to conduct business moving forward. 

If you're interested in seeing the type of results we can achieve for your business, don't hesitate to reach out to us for a consultation.

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