XPO Logistics is a global player in transport and logistics solutions and specialises in the storage and delivery of goods from diverse markets. In Belgium, the company is active in six locations: three of which are in Antwerp, with the others in Veurne, Zellik and Welkenraedt. XPO Supply Chain Belgium, the Belgian section of XPO Logistics, recently decided to replace the WiFi infrastructure at the 120,000m2 site in Welkenraedt (XPO Supply Chain Chemicals), to be able to meet their new requirements.
Previously, the site at Welkenraedt was equipped with a (Cisco) WiFi infrastructure (with more than 90 access points), which was primarily used for warehouse processes (receipt of goods, order pricking, storage of goods, order preparation and delivery, etc.) The Access Points were managed by a locally installed wireless controller.
The new requirements include, among other things, updating the WiFi infrastructure to current WiFi standards (802.11n, 802.11ac, etc.). The infrastructure also needed to be managed centrally and additionally needed to be capable of managing multiple sites simultaneously.
“The total cost of our WiFi infrastructure has fallen, because physical controllers can be eliminated and the amount of access points has been reduced by 40 pieces throughout the whole site. Management has also been made easier. The virtual controller is established in Zellik and also manages other warehouses with just one system.”
XPO Supply Chain Belgium had already previously worked with PHI DATA, and following a procurement procedure, were able to collaborate once again with this Auto-ID specialist from Wemmel. In order to meet the requirements mentioned above, PHI DATA proposed the implementation of a Zebra VX9000 solution. This consists of a Virtual Wireless Controller, which is capable of managing more than 10,000 Wireless Access Points at multiple sites simultaneously, and replaces all previous Access Points with Zebra AP7522 802.11ac access points.
“Of course all these access points need a controller”, explained Peter Guetens, IT Manager at XPO Supply Chain Belgium. “Previously, we needed physical hardware for this. In Zellik, we have now opted for a virtual controller; the VX9000. This controller is capable of managing all access points. All signals and channels are managed with the new virtual appliance, and all firmware upgrades are completely automatic. Since the full configuration is on the virtual controller, modifications only need to be made on the VX9000, and then these modifications are automatically pushed to all access points.”
“Everything now functions better than it used to. Whereas we previously needed 125 access points to cover the whole warehouse, we now only need 85 access points with the new network – and the coverage is many times better. We chose PHI DATA because they had the best credentials both in terms of price and experience. They are a very professional and helpful team, who think both reactively and proactively with the customer. We came to the solution together, which fits specifically in our environment.”
The new infrastructure has numerous advantages. Since the VX9000 is a virtual appliance, it can easily be installed on a (Windows) server (hardware or a virtual server). The huge capacity of this controller, which can support more than 10,000 access points, avoids the need to implement several controllers. It is likewise capable of supporting multiple sites simultaneously, with the possibility of inputting a different configuration per site. This means that site-specific requirements can be maintained with regard to the network, protection, firewall, etc.
“The system has been fully operational for one month. We have conducted a post-survey, and it now seems that there is no longer any part of the warehouse without WiFi. Just as important is the economic gain. The total cost of our WiFi infrastructure has fallen, because physical controllers can be eliminated and the amount of access points has been reduced by 40 pieces throughout the whole site. Management has also been made easier. The virtual controller is established in Zellik and also manages other warehouses with just one system.