Shuttle Connectivity in AS/RS Warehouses Enhanced
Connectivity issues may hinder the functioning of the AGVs, resulting in downtime, reduced productivity, and elevated costs. Some of the challenges Meshmerize had to deal with are:
- Dark Zones: The metallic structures and the constant movement of goods offer a stiff challenge for wireless signals causing “dark zones” in wireless network coverage.
- Roaming disconnects: The shuttles also experienced drops during movement within the warehouse, as they transitioned from being connected to one access point to a different one.
- Network Congestion: Additionally, using the same wireless network for safety-critical data transmission, as well as other not-so-critical functions, like data logging and remote desktop access, caused the critical data to sometimes get lost in all the noise.
- Limited space: The warehouse and the shuttle robots are very tightly designed, leaving very little space for additional hardware or cabling.
Prior to deploying Meshmerize, the engineers tried various approaches to tackle the connectivity issues plaguing the AGVs.
Their attempts to improve connectivity involved using more hardware to cover dark zones, introducing different hardware types to reduce network congestion, and even establishing parallel infrastructure with a separate set of Wi-Fi Access Points.
However, these solutions were inadequate and proved to be challenging to implement in a tightly-designed warehouse environment with limited space.
Meshmerize, with its innovative mesh network technology, addressed these issues by providing seamless, scalable, and reliable connectivity for the shuttle systems, enhancing their overall safety and efficiency.
in a single deployment
average ping time to any shuttle
Our pilot deployment, done in early 2022, tested and proved specific features of Meshmerize such as seamless roaming, circumventing dark zones, and scalability. A Meshmerize network was installed at a customer’s warehouse. The network consisted of 20 nodes total: 11 nodes in the robot shuttles and 9 static nodes were installed (of which 4 were wired).
The multi-device network infrastructure was replaced with one single network to handle all the requirements. Using dual-band routers (2.4 GHz + 5 GHz) enabled us to use the same infrastructure for BOTH safety-critical data and other data, replacing the existing redundant system.
The results were self-evident:
- 100% coverage achieved
- 11 mobile nodes connected with fast roaming
- ~50ms average ping time to any shuttle
- <1% packet loss
- Unified network for safety-critical AND other data – eliminating redundant hardware
- Further orders were placed and new sites deployed with more features
Mid-Late 2022 First Phase of Deployment
After the successful pilot, Meshmerize was seen as a critical component of the customer’s offering. Together, we quickly ramped up the number of installations in which Meshmerize was deployed, expanding to 5+ production sites, adding up to 400+ deployed Meshmerize nodes.
Additionally, more features were added to the solution such as:
- Scaling up the number of nodes per site, now crossing 60 per site.
- Smarter traffic management through Firewalls
- DNATs to enable seamless integration with customer’s existing infrastructure
- Hotspot-based troubleshooting facility for the shuttles
- Easier and faster device setup
We teamed up to tackle connectivity challenges in one of the biggest automated warehouses in the world in early 2023.
The warehouse, 15 levels high with the capacity to handle 12,000 pallets daily, relies on 32 shuttles for pallet movement across levels. Controlled by a central traffic system, the shuttles are equipped with Doodle Labs RM-2450 devices running Meshmerize and fitted with special antennas.
These shuttles communicate wirelessly with control devices at speeds of up to 4m/s. Our mesh, composed of 100+ nodes, enhances the connectivity and efficiency of shuttle operations. For an in-depth exploration of this successful partnership, read our deep dive blog post. The site has been in 24×7 production usage since April 2023, with fully connected shuttles and happy customers!
The partnership continues to grow, with more than 600 nodes deployed in 2023 alone, across several automated warehouses across Europe.
As the company expands worldwide, there are 1000s of nodes across dozens of sites in the pipeline for 2024, not to forget some exciting new developments such as:
- Deploying Hive – network management tool for automation of commissioning, monitoring and troubleshooting
- Expanding into deep-freezer environments (up to -25 Deg 🥶 )
- Scaling up to 100+ node deployments
The use of Meshmerize mesh network technology was highly successful in solving the connectivity problems faced by AGVs. By improving the connectivity and coordination of the AGVs, Meshmerize was able to increase the overall efficiency of the warehouse, reducing downtime, and increasing productivity.
The deployment of Meshmerize has proven to be a cost-effective and reliable solution for resolving connectivity problems in automated warehouses, and its use is likely to become more widespread in the future.
- Meshmerize’s innovative mesh network technology effectively ensures seamless, scalable, and reliable connectivity for the automated warehouse system with AGVs, enhancing safety and operational efficiency.
- The pilot deployment of Meshmerize in early 2022 proved its effectiveness with achievements like 100% coverage, fast roaming, and less than 1% packet loss, leading to further orders and expansion across multiple sites.
- In early 2023, we collaboratively tackled connectivity challenges in one of the world’s largest automated warehouses, enhancing the efficiency and connectivity of 32 shuttles, resulting in fully connected shuttles and satisfied customers.
- The successful partnership continues to grow, with the deployment of over 600 nodes in 2023 alone, and plans for thousands more across dozens of sites in 2024.