Columbia Distributing goes wireless to solve inventory problem

Columbia Distributing, a distributor of microbrewed beer and fine wine to 85% of the Pacific Northwest region, has adopted a wireless solution to resolve a major warehouse inventory management problem.

After installing 25 traditional Wi-Fi access points to manage inventory and customer business in its 356,000 square-foot warehouse in the Seattle suburb of Renton, Columbia discovered that those radios couldn’t transmit a signal throughout the hundreds of rows of beer and wine, making instantaneous inventory reports impossible. To resolve the problem, Columbia chose to implement Vivato’s Smart Wi-Fi architecture, which provides a cellular-like solution to wireless communications. The Smart Wi-Fi architecture uses high power base stations for broad coverage and AP (access point)/bridges for spot coverage where needed.

The entire Columbia installation, from site survey to full deployment, took less than four days, according to Shanuj Sarin, Vivato’s senior systems engineer. “We first did a comprehensive site survey to determine how to best cover the huge warehouse,” says Sarin. “The numerous glass bottles stacked on metal shelves produced a very high multi-path environment, which can be a problem for wireless signals, and the 40-foot high ceilings were another cause of signal weakness.” To overcome these obstacles, Sarin recommended installing two Vivato base stations and four AP/bridges to network connectivity.

Columbia warehouse personnel now use the Vivato network to monitor supplies for Columbia’s Pacific Northwest customer base.

www.columbia-dist.com

www.vivato.com

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