Three Keys to Building Reliable Wireless Communications for AGVs


August 4, 2022

By Calvin Chuko, Product Manager, Moxa

The automated material handling equipment market is expected to grow tremendously in the near future, exceeding $50 billion (USD) globally by 2024. While this trend is anticipated, it accelerated in the spring of 2020 as a result of two significant driving forces. Namely, the expansion of e-commerce businesses and the social distancing measures imposed on shop floors.

In recent years, e-commerce warehouses have become hot property because of the rapidly increasing demand from online shopping. With this surge in demand, efficient and reliable Automated Storage/Retrieval Systems (AS/RS) are crucial to keeping warehouse logistics up and running. In addition to expanding e-commerce business, factory owners are also redesigning their shop floors in order to align with ongoing social distancing guidelines. Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) are now widely deployed to reduce human contact and increase operational efficiency.

With AGVs and AS/RS systems now becoming mainstream, machine OEMs and system integrators are looking to build reliable connectivity platforms to achieve seamless operations in warehouses and factories. Since AGVs and AS/RS are constantly on the move, fast and stable wireless connectivity is a fundamental requirement. The biggest challenge is how to build a reliable wireless communications network for these systems. In this article, we will highlight some of the key factors machine OEMs and system integrators should be aware of when building robust AGVs and AS/RS systems.

1. Industrial-grade Designs for Optimal Reliability

On the shop floor, there is a lot of unexpected and often unavoidable electrical interference that can interrupt wireless transmissions or even damage wireless communication devices. Take a motorcycle assembly production line, for example. There are multiple pieces of production equipment that can produce unintended electrical potential throughout the workshop. Moreover, in a real environment, there are sometimes ground loops that could have a negative impact on wireless devices. Similarly, the conveyors belts used to move products to the next production stop rely on some kind of motor and drive equipment to generate the belt movement. The electromagnets and electrical currents from this equipment can also negatively affect wireless communications. Last but not least, the wireless devices installed on AGVs and AS/RS equipment endure constant vibration when the vehicle is moving, which can also hinder wireless performance.

Given these conditions, choosing a robust, industrial-grade wireless solution is a top priority. Wireless clients and APs can be reinforced with RF and power isolation to protect the device against electrostatic discharge damage and sudden inrush currents generated by the motor. They also have a wider operating temperature and feature high ingress protection to ensure that your wireless connections remain stable, even in environments with heavy ambient interference. Through these enhancements, industrial-grade devices are designed to last longer as well.

2. Seamless Wireless Connectivity to Ensure Continuous Operations

In many warehouses, AS/RS equipment moves and fetches goods quickly and efficiently. This is possible through wireless roaming. Roaming technology enables wireless clients to constantly search for and switch to the nearest access point with the strongest signal before the wireless connection goes down. As the vehicles are always mobile, it is essential to evaluate the wireless environment to ensure smooth roaming transitions and seamless connectivity.

In addition, Wi-Fi coverage can also have a direct impact on the quality of wireless connections. Wi-Fi coverage determines how quickly the wireless device can identify nearby APs and thus roam more reliably. Opting for wireless devices with MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) capability can further multiply the capacity of a radio link to enlarge Wi-Fi coverage. This subsequently improve wireless performance and eliminates the need to install additional APs.

Lastly, system integrators are often concerned with whether the selected wireless solution supports communication between PLCs and wireless APs/clients. Determining your network communication requirements can help better identify the appropriate WLAN settings for the intended deployment environment.


When selecting wireless communication devices, see if the device can be equipped with millisecond-level roaming technology, consider external antennas for more flexible deployment and to achieve broader Wi-Fi coverage, and follow configuration guides from the device provider. You can use wireless sniffer tools within the area to trace various Wi-Fi spots to map out the actual profile of the radio coverage. More often than not, you will need to fine-tune the network design after an on-site survey.

Even when the Wi-Fi coverage is good and the RF signal is strong, you may not get good throughput. Physical obstacles, such as walls, may be preventing some APs and client from “hearing” each other, leading to a collision of Wi-Fi signals. An RTS/CTS exchange mechanism can be used to avoid collision between the AP and client signals.


3. Built-in Security Features and Management Software to Enhance Network Security

People sometimes neglect how easily basic network management can pose cybersecurity risks to the whole network. For instance, if wireless clients can connect to APs without any form of authorization or authentication mechanism, this kind of unwarranted access may cause network breaches and even shut down the AGV and AS/RS systems. It is highly recommended to secure all wireless communication devices after configuration and to deny unauthorized devices access to the wireless network, creating an additional layer of network security.

To help better manage wireless network security, it is a good idea to consider using management software to visualize the network environment and control the security of all node connections.

For more information, visit HERE.

Related Articles

Changing Scene

  • Eaton Canada Welcomes Dino Alimonti as New Vice President of Sales

    Eaton Canada Welcomes Dino Alimonti as New Vice President of Sales

    Dino Alimonti has been selected as Vice President, Sales, Eaton Canada, effective July 1, 2023. In his new role, Dino will be responsible for leading, developing and executing sales strategies across key targeted industry segments. He will manage and direct the growth activities of the Sales and Channel teams as well as provide business and operational leadership to the sales teams and associated support functions. Read More…

  • Roberta Nelson Shea from Universal Robots Receives Prestigious Robotics Award for Contribution to Robot Safety

    Roberta Nelson Shea from Universal Robots Receives Prestigious Robotics Award for Contribution to Robot Safety

    For the second time within five years, a key figure at Universal Robots (UR), the Danish manufacturer of collaborative robots (cobots), has been awarded the world’s most prestigious robotics prize, the Joseph F. Engelberger Robotics Award, often described as the Nobel Prize of robotics. Following in the footsteps of UR’s co-founder Esben Østergaard, who was given the Engelberger Award in 2018 in the Technology category, Roberta Nelson Shea, UR’s Global Technical Compliance Officer received the award for Applications at a ceremony last night at the Automate Show in Detroit. Read More…

Sponsored Content
The Easy Way to the Industrial IoT

The way to the Industrial IoT does not have to be complicated. Whether access to valuable data is required or new, data-driven services are to be generated, Weidmuller enables its customers to go from data to value the easy way. Weidmuller’s comprehensive and cutting-edge IIoT portfolio applies to greenfield and brownfield applications. Weidmuller offers components and solutions from data acquisition, data pre-processing, data communication and data analysis.

Visit Weidmuller’s Industrial IoT Portfolio.

For a Multiplied Value Unified


During the last few years, the Excelpro Group has welcomed AIA Automation, Envitech Automation and Conrad Lavoie Electrical, all of which have become ‘Member of the Excelpro Group’.

It was with great excitement that in November of 2022, Excelpro announced that these three companies officially became Excelpro. This decision is part of a strategy to enhance the Excelpro Group’s brand in its market.

These companies already collaborate on various client projects. This merger brings together the complementary strengths of the employees and ensures a global synergy of the activities throughout the Group.

Read More

Service Wire Co. Announces New Titles for Key Executives

Bruce Kesler and Mark Gatewood have been given new titles and responsibilities for Service Wire Co.

Bruce Kesler has assumed the role of Senior Director – Business Development. Bruce will be responsible for Service Wire’s largest strategic accounts and our growing Strategic Accounts Team.

Mark Gatewood has been promoted to the role of Vice President – Sales & Marketing. In this role, Gatewood will lead the efforts of Service Wire Company’s entire sales and marketing organization in all market verticals.

Read More

Tri-Mach Announces the Purchase of an Additional 45,000 sq ft. Facility

Tri-Mach Elmira Facility

Recently, Tri-Mach Inc. was thrilled to announce the addition of a new 45,000 sq ft. facility. Located at 285 Union St., Elmira, ON, this facility expands Tri-Mach’s capabilities, allowing them to better serve the growing needs of their customers.

Positioning for growth, this additional facility will allow Tri-Mach to continue taking on large-scale projects, enhance product performance testing, and provide equipment storage for their customers. The building will also be the new home to their Skilled Trades Centre of Excellence.

Read More

JMP Parent Company, CONVERGIX Acquires AGR Automation, Expanding Global Reach

Convergix Automation Solutions has completed the acquisition of AGR Automation (“AGR”), a UK-based provider of custom, high-performance automation design and systems integration primarily to the life sciences industry.

Following Convergix’s acquisitions of JMP Solutions in August 2021 and Classic Design in February 2022, AGR marks the third investment in Crestview’s strategy to build Convergix into a diversified automation solutions provider targeting the global $500+ billion market, with a particular focus on the $70 billion global systems integration and connectivity segments. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Read More

Latest Articles

  • Emerson Helps Optimize Innovative Recycling Process That Increases Sustainability of Waste-to-Energy Industry

    Emerson Helps Optimize Innovative Recycling Process That Increases Sustainability of Waste-to-Energy Industry

    Emerson is helping the Swedish cleantech company HaloSep to optimize their unique process that turns hazardous incinerator flue gas residue from waste-to-energy plants into usable materials. Emerson’s control technology and software is being deployed at HaloSep’s plant for optimization, research and technology (PORT) in Gothenburg, Sweden, to manage an innovative chemical separation process that recovers valuable salt, metals and minerals from fly ash. Read More…

  • Efficient Power Supplies – An Investment in the Future

    Efficient Power Supplies – An Investment in the Future

    In the search for a suitable power supply, the costs play a major role, alongside the technical requirements. The focus is often on the initial purchase price, while other potential costs that may be incurred during the operation of the power supply are not taken into consideration. In this blog post, we demonstrate why the decision to purchase a high-quality power supply is a profitable investment for your company, by taking a close look at all the costs involved. Read More…