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Editor’s Note: Today’s blog comes from Michael Copeland, a Commercial Support Manager with Wilson Electronics who shows us why cellular connectivity is imperative to your distribution center.

As a distribution center manager, you administer a critical link in the retail supply chain. Space optimization, order fulfillment, shipping, personnel management, and security are all key responsibilities of your position.

However, there’s an increasingly overlooked component of distribution operations that needs to be addressed in nearly all facilities: cellular connectivity. Without it, many of your center’s key systems either run inefficiently or not at all. With so much product and revenue on the line, that’s a chance you simply can’t afford to take.

Fortunately, there are connectivity solutions available if you’re experiencing connectivity issues in your distribution center. Cell phone signal booster systems (also known as passive distributed antenna systems) are the perfect solution for distribution managers who can’t risk cellular connectivity in their facilities. These cost- and time-effective solutions provide strong, reliable cellular and data connectivity in even the most difficult scenarios.

Cell phones as a tool in distribution centers and warehouses

In today’s hyper-connected digital world, cell phones, smartphones, and tablets are increasingly embraced as professional tools, rather than just personal devices. Even five years ago, a survey of logistics and warehouse managers found that 85 percent used or planned to use mobile devices in their processes, while 62 percent used or planned to use smartphones or tablets.

Many SaaS and cloud-based applications allow distribution centers to operate more fluidly and facilitate remote access. Some larger companies are even developing their own internal applications. One senior supply chain manager told the same study that his company developed an app that provides supervisors with real-time status of managed areas and workflow.

As the use of digital tools increases so too does the need for flawless cellular connectivity in distribution centers.

Boost your distribution operations

A decade ago, distribution managers needed to make a significant investment in active distributed antenna systems (DAS) to solve connectivity problems. These large-scale infrastructure solutions are typically found in big stadiums and arenas. While active DAS solves many connectivity problems, it does so at significant expense, and commonly only boosts a single carrier’s signal.

Cell phone signal boosters, on the other hand, are carrier agnostic. Whether your customers use major carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint, or smaller regional carriers, they get the same amplified signal. That’s a critical consideration in a distribution center environment where your team relies on instant connection and communication to efficiently do their jobs.

Cell phone signal boosters deliver connectivity to IKEA distribution center

You only need to look as far as IKEA and the Swedish multinational’s new Baytown, Texas distribution center to see how effective cell phone signal boosters can be. The development of the company’s 500,000-square-foot distribution center in Baytown marked the retailer’s first expansion into the southern region of the U.S.

IKEA joined Walmart and Home Depot, which also operate distribution centers in Baytown. But in IKEA’s case, there was a problem: building material, construction, and cell tower distance heavily limited Verizon service in the facility, resulting in poor internet and data speeds for front-office management.

With less than two weeks until opening, Gary Holler, the center’s project manager, and Simplice Bizimana, IT manager, needed a fast connectivity solution to maintain the high standard of operations IKEA is known for.

Holler and Bizimana worked with connectivity partners from Wilson Amplifiers to devise a solution. The Wilson Amplifiers team recommended a cell phone signal booster system. From site survey and pre-install check-up to installation, and post-installation support, the process took less than a weekend, well within Holler’s two-week deadline.

With the improved signal, connectivity rose dramatically and the IKEA distribution center opened without a hitch. Considering the time and money saved, especially for a busy project manager like Holler, it was a win on all fronts.

“The improvement we saw was dramatic,” Holler said. “We did a walkthrough and were amazed at how much better the signal reading was throughout the area.”

As a distribution center manager, creating streamlined workflows is a top priority, and modern operations like yours demand reliable cell and data coverage. Enhancing your facility’s cellular signal with cell phone signal boosters helps increase efficiency and enhance distribution operations.