With wireless communications increasingly prevalent in many industries, an infrastructure of Wi-Fi access points is now a common feature on manufacturing and logistics sites, in hospitals, shopping centres and other facilities.
One of the companies at the forefront of installing and maintaining these is DW Wi-Fi, which provides turnkey Wi-Fi network solutions from Cisco across the UK. Recognising that reliable operation is one of the critical customer expectations, the company provides robust and well-engineered networks.
A key element for a dependable network is the quality of the enclosures housing the access point. For that reason DW always use Spelsberg TK units: polystyrene housings for indoor use and polyester versions for outdoors because they are resistant to the decaying effects of ultraviolet light.
Dave Woodall, who set up DW in 2008, explains that he had a bad experience early on with a low-grade enclosure manufacturer. “It was good to have such a learning experience right at the start. It was a perfect illustration that you cannot build a quality network with poor quality parts.
“I did some market research and found that Spelsberg in Telford seemed to fit my quality and performance needs completely. Now we use them exclusively and most of what they supply is bespoke to the particular application.”
The Wi-Fi manufacturers do not provide enclosures to protect their rather delicate equipment, realising that it is better that the installers assess the requirement of each individual application and select appropriate protection.
DW typically installs its networks in manufacturing plants and other industrial facilities, warehouses and shipping centres. These are generally recognised as likely to be quite harsh environments for electronic equipment. They also install in what could appear to be more benign situations, such as schools, leisure centres and medical centres. However, Woodall explains the reality:
“Many of our customers want Wi-Fi capabilities outdoors as well as inside. Public facilities tend to have large car parks: hospitals and clinics need highly reliable transmission; warehouses often have big yards where lorries can turn and stock is stored. So, most installations require at least some outdoor access points.
“Internal access points may be in a compressor house, blaster chiller, foundry or other obviously harsh environment.”
DW always uses enclosures from Spelsberg’s TK range. These – both polystyrene and polycarbonate versions – are available in a wide variety of dimensions, allowing end-users to select units that are perfectly matched to their application. Their design has been refined over many years to provide a rugged, non-corrosive housing for sensitive electronics.
They are available with a host of accessories including DIN rails and mounting plates (steel and insulated), and transparent covers. A selection of metric knockout cable entry points have been included in the standard range, based on the most popular requests from customers.
Spelsberg UK is able to customise enclosures in-house, a service that DW and many other customers rely upon. It offers CNC machining for bespoke entry point configuration and laser marking for company logos, certification or instructions. Spelsberg is even able to offer in-house assembly, assisting with the production process and reducing installation times once delivered. The TK range is rated at IP66 for excellent protection against dust and moisture ingress.
DW usually installs the TK enclosures with a Wi-Fi antenna passing through the wall of the enclosure so that maximum reliability of transmission is achieved. This reduces the IP rating to IP54, which is not usually a problem. If there are protection issues, Woodall and his team have several options, not least of which is to call upon the expertise available through Spelberg’s design team.
Among the most demanding situations DW has installed networks is a port that has a mile-long canal, the sides of which are used to store the offloaded cargos – usually timber. “We have provided Wi-Fi capabilities down the full length of the canal-side and around the on-site power station,” says Woodall. “The access points are mounted on lighting towers, out of the way of vehicles, vandals and other potential hazards, but somewhat exposed to the elements – so thank Heavens for the Spelsberg enclosures.
“We must have installed hundreds of Spelsberg enclosures all over the country by now. None have ever let us down and the Spelsberg guys always have good advice for the trickier jobs.”