Ruckus transforms Amrod warehouse environment

Amrod, Africa’s leading importer and brander of corporate and promotional clothing, gifts, and headwear, has contracted Ruckus, an ARRIS company, to implement a comprehensive wireless solution at its new 38,000m² office, warehouse, and production environment in Johannesburg.

Founded in 2000, Amrod’s success story is one of integrity, innovation, risk taking and hard work. Designed from the ground up to fit the company’s operational needs, the new office now includes a best-of-breed warehouse management system to improve inventory accuracy and to speed up operations, and a state-of-the-art conveyor system to move stock to the correct branding department quickly, in an automated manner. Amrod also boasts one of the largest branding facilities in the world and a beautiful showroom for resellers. The new environment holds more than R400-million worth of gifting, clothing, and headwear stock and brands in excess of 300 000 items daily.

“Our incumbent wireless network was better suited for the smaller open office environment where we were moving. This provided us with the perfect opportunity to implement a new system that would be able to grow with us and meet our exact wireless requirements,” says Jean-Pierre Voges, IT manager, Amrod.

Wireless connectivity is a business-critical part of the Amrod production environment that relies heavily on the technology to manage its vendor management (VMS) system. Not only does it use wireless on all its radio frequency devices that scan and track products in the warehouse environment, the company’s container trucks have wireless printers to print inventory labels on the spot.

“We have a complex process and needed a solution that could handle our challenging environment with potential interference due to the size of our new building,” says Voges.

Given how closely Amrod works with Wire and Wireless, the service provider responsible for networking the new premises, Ruckus’s integration partner Intelys Technology Africa, was appointed to design, install and manage the project.

The new building proved to be the largest obstacle to overcome as it was still in the process of being built. However, with Amrod moving stock to the new warehouse during construction, it required a working solution as quickly as possible.

Following a site visit from Ruckus and Intelys to design the network from a routing and switching perspective, there were a few concerns around the height of the warehouse as they were pushing the height limitations of the access points. However, Ruckus and the team created a passive heat map and designed the implementation to account for the structural challenges – one that actually required fewer access points than anticipated.

“The mission-critical nature of this implementation made Ruckus the logical choice. The expectation of the Wi-Fi technology to adapt to the constantly changing warehousing environment required a solution that could automatically adapt to constant changes. The controller management allowed engineers to configure, manage and maintain the solution as the project evolved. Conventional Wi-Fi technology is simply unable to adapt to constantly changing RF environments. For us, Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi has been the ideal solution to addressing all of these problems and we know that they are the best in the business, especially for projects of this magnitude,” said Neal Daines, head of operations at Intelys.

The project took approximately six weeks to complete but this was mainly due to a few tweaks that were required to fit the build as it progressed. 42 Ruckus R500 access points were required with one Ruckus ZoneDirector controller. This provided Amrod with the focused signal strength required for its scanners while providing wireless access to the office and showroom.

“Ruckus’ innovative BeamFlex technology delivered better performance, and reduced any potential interference in the environment including the height of the roof (which is 25 meters) and the shelves (which are 23 meters). This was not a high-dense area, but still required a solution that could manage small and quick packets of data,” says Riaan Graham, sales director for Ruckus Networks, sub-Saharan Africa. “Given today’s warehouse environments where time is money, a reliable wireless system is no longer negotiable. Warehouse and logistics are major verticals for Ruckus. These environments play perfectly to our core strengths of wireless reliability and adaptiveness.”

After the installation of the Ruckus solution, Amrod experienced faster wireless speeds and throughput. “The next phase will focus on providing redundancy; however we have been very happy with execution and performance to date. Ruckus and Intelys were able to effectively realise our vision of a complete wireless solution that has the scalability required to cover any potential growth of the environment,” concludes Voges.

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