Hello fellow Meraki users!
I work for a company that primarily focuses on processing and manufacturing metals. We are looking at a refresh of our wireless infrastructure and are interested in Meraki. We currently have Cisco APs but a majority of them are older models (1252's, 1262's)I am curious if there is anyone out there that is running Meraki APs in their factories that can share their experiences.
Why the questions about factories specifically? Are there issues with air quality or electrical power? The capability to manage through the cloud is why you'll want Meraki. You can change an SSID and have it's setting propagate to your entire infrastructure.
I have to agree somewhat with @TimBreen on why the questions specifically around manufacturing facilities? That being said, I have deployed Meraki wireless in our offices and on our shop floors. So far, no major issues. It's actually been quite beneficial. We have a E-Coat line that uses it's own proprietary wireless network of a sort to send commands from the primary controller to the multiple moving arms that will drop racks into the dip tanks. Using the RF Spectrum helped me easily identify the interference that was causing us errors in the beginning. Saved me a lot of time.
Thanks for your responses, @TimBreen and @WadeAlsup. Our factories are full of giant rolls of steel and I was just curious what all this metal will do to the wireless network. Our current experience is ok but I know it can be better. I'm trying to plan around maximizing our wireless coverage and give us a good base to jump into Industrial IOT at some point in the future.
I have deployed them in many different environments including manufacturing. Given that you will have a lot of metal and reflected signals I would go with the MR42 as it will have a decent amount of antenna elements to take advantage of those reflections. The 3rd radio for scanning will be a huge plus to you for detecting interference.
I am not sure where you will be mounting them you will want to take temperature into account. The Cisco 1252 and 1262 have a wider temperature range than the Meraki units unless you use the outdoor units. The downside to the outdoor units is that you only get a 1 year warranty on the hardware. You may have to consider enclosures and I have had great success with AccelTex and price.
If you used the dipole antennas on the Cisco units coverage should be fairly similar.
I have done deployments into factories, including clean rooms and manufacturing.
You mention rolls of steel - so you are highly likely to experiences lots of multi-path signals.
I would be tempted to go with the MR53 because it is 4x4 MIMO. If you then restrict your clients to using 2x2 MIMO (a very common configuration) the 4x4 MIMO will then be able to process the multi-path signals.
If you environment is particularly dirty or "nasty" I would probably go with the MR84. It has a much more rugged case and you are less likely to kill it.
We have a wide variety of Manufacturing customers that leverage Meraki in harsh environments including steel foundry, casting, and parts manufacturing facilities. In most cases, as @PhilipDAth mentions, the MR84 (4x4:4) would be recommended for harsher/RF challenging environments or outdoors as well as the MR74 (2x2:2).
As an additional option, we now have external antenna models of both the MR42 and MR53 that have been very successful in challenging Manufacturing and Warehouse RF environments that don't have extreme environmental requirements.
As @GB4Meraki mentioned, we have many partners who can further reinforce the MR's for extreme environments. Here are links to a few we leverage in Manufacturing and Chemical Processing...
Lastly, we're hosting a Meraki Manufacturing webinar next week, May 29th at 9 am PDT for those interested in learning more about the benefits of not just the hardware and the entire Dashboard cloud-managed for optimizing plant efficiency and standardization...and you'll likely qualify for a FREE AP! Registration for the webinar is located at: https://meraki.cisco.com/webinars/signup/2825/meraki-for-manufacturing/
Meraki Manufacturing Solutions Guide: https://meraki.cisco.com/lib/pdf/meraki_manufacturing_overview_solution_guide.pdf
I have completed a few installations in warehouses involving steel, etc. You will have multi-path and reflection issues. I recommend using a patch antenna and definitely performing an APoS survey to gain better understanding of how the RF will react with the antennas in the environment. Also mounting can be challenging, I've had success with using Ventev infrastructure for i-beam mounting and wall mounting along with NEMA rated enclosures to protect the access point. Cheers, -DC