How to Boost Cell Signal in Your Warehouse
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Whether you’re a forklift worker needing to make an urgent call, or a salesperson needing to get a hold of your office, or a manager trying to reach your staff, you know the hassle of trying to get a cell signal inside a warehouse. Things like 5G and WiFi probably weren’t a consideration in the construction of an older warehouse, or your architects simply didn’t think of cell signals as a concern.
But the deeper you get into a big metal, brick or masonry building, the worse your cell signal is going to get. Even just stepping inside the warehouse may cause your signal to weaken. Add to that a few hundred thousand square feet of inventory that reaches to the rafters, and you’ve got a nightmare for cell reception.
Perhaps one of the worst things about cell signals in warehouses is that many are being turned into modern offices, loft spaces, and even luxury housing. But with the construction of the warehouse skeleton surrounding it, and all those dense layers of building materials trapping these spaces in a sarcophagus, no one inside is going to be happy with their cell reception--and that will either drive you crazy (if you’re the occupant) or lose you tenants (if you’re the owner).
No signal in your warehouse? The good news is that there are solutions to fix this very problem. WilsonPro has been developing cell phone boosters for warehouses and entire warehouse solutions to address the issue of boosting cell signal in your warehouse.
Why is it important to have strong signal in my warehouse?
If your warehouse is filled with inventory, you likely have many workers and they’re spread out across huge distances, in-between floor-to-ceiling racks, obscured from view and muffled from hearing--and warehouses are seldom quiet; no one communicates in a warehouse by shouting across the interior space. This communication in commercial and industrial warehouses is often solved by radios, but radios have downsides.
For starters, a radio can only call other radios in the area. Maybe it can call to all the other employees in the warehouse and perhaps the front office, but that’s it. A radio can’t make a call outside the radio’s network. And aside from making it hard for a worker to call home to check on the family, it’s a big safety issue.
If there’s an accident in the warehouse and your employees are only equipped with radios, they have to make a radio call, wait for someone to respond--which doesn’t always happen immediately--and then relay the emergency information to someone who does have a phone, which then has to be repeated to 911. It causes a slowdown in response time and it adds the chance for errors as the 911 operator is only getting a second-hand account and can’t ask questions directly of the warehouse responders. The lack of cell signals in a warehouse is a safety hazard as dangerous as poorly-stacked inventory or trip hazards.
Benefits of Improved Cell Signal in Your Warehouse
While everyone knows that cell connectivity is useful anywhere, there are many reasons that a warehouse needs it even more than the average space.
What if a salesperson is visiting your warehouse--or a customer--and they need to get a hold of their office to make an important decision that will affect your bottom line. Will that sale be in jeopardy because your customer has to walk outside to the parking lot to make a phone call? Will your purchase be poorly communicated over a spotty connection, causing your order to be delivered wrong? Boosting the cell signal in your warehouse will save you a lot of headache.
And, if your warehouse has been converted into an office, the benefits of having good cell service are right there in front of you: either you do all your business on a landline, inconveniencing both your staff and your clients who come to visit, or you end up moving out of the space and find a new place to do business. In today’s connected world, no business can afford to have a poor cell signal in their office building.
How do I boost cell phone signal into my warehouse?
Solving connectivity issues in a warehouse is daunting, as many of these warehouses are old and the brick, concrete, steel, and masonry diminishes the cell signal or nullifies it entirely. Combine this with the fact that industrial areas are often under-served by cell towers, and you’ve got a recipe for frustration.
Cell towers and devices work similar to the way two-way radios do, meaning that a voice is converted to a radio signal, sent via radio waves to the cell tower, which then relays the radio wave back to return the message, converting it to sound. These radio signals are easily disrupted by warehouse construction.
The best way to boost signal in a warehouse is by utilizing existing strong outdoor signals and amplifying them within the building. Passive distributed antenna systems (DAS) or cell phone signal boosters for warehouses have proven to be the best and most reliable way to do this. With proper installation, these cellular signal amplifiers can bring the outdoor signal inside a warehouse.
There’s more to it than simply sticking an antenna on the roof, as appealing as that solution may be. This is because even putting a cellular signal amplifier in one place in a warehouse doesn’t mean the signal will travel through all the walls, inventory, and dead spaces. A site survey needs to be done to get a thorough understanding of exactly what areas need to be covered.
Get a Site Survey at your warehouse
A thorough site survey is the foundation for deploying a successful cell signal amplification system within a warehouse, or any structure for that matter. This process assesses where signal is strongest and weakest — from the roof to the interior — to help determine the optimal placement of donor antennas and indoor antennas. The donor antenna is housed outdoors and is used to capture outdoor signal that will be amplified within the building by the indoor antennas. A site survey will also tell the installer how much cable and other materials will be needed for the project.
While many building owners and managers rely on signal bars displayed on their phone, or use the field test mode on their smartphone as a measure of signal strength, a signal meter provides a much more accurate assessment. This device allows you to read the signal level for all frequency ranges and bands to ensure you are boosting a signal that will work for everyone, regardless of their service provider. A carrier-agnostic signal is an absolute necessity in an age where everyone living or working in the building relies on a different carrier network.
The site survey also includes looking at the warehouse floor plan and identifying potential obstacles before the installation begins. The floor plan will also help inform the number of antennas needed and where they should be placed for optimal performance.
The site survey will guide the system design and increase the chances of the most effective results from a cellular signal boosting solution within a warehouse space.
Installation of Cell Phone Booster
On the roof of the warehouse a donor antenna will be fixed, usually attaching to a vent pipe or post, or a specially built mount.
Inside the building, the installer will put install indoor antennas, in accordance with the plan they made from the site survey. These will be mounted on the walls or ceiling. Depending on the type of warehouse, these antennas may be hidden completely from view.
Finally, boosters, also called amplifiers, will need to be installed. These are more tricky as they require a power supply and adequate ventilation. Depending on the model, they can be mounted on a wall or put in a server room.
All of this will be done using the least amount of cable possible, because signals degrade as they travel through cables, so shortest is best.
Especially in a warehouse or manufacturing environment, in-building cellular and data reception allows your staff to connect with coworkers or field agents in real time. More robust connectivity increases productivity, and improves security and safety systems that need to connect with cellular networks. If you’d like to learn more about how to boost the cell signal in your warehouse facility, contact WilsonPro today.