Bigger and better: Reliability of wireless in industrial apps is on the rise

07/02/2008



While advancements in wireless technologies give rise to reliable wireless sensors and sensor networks, a reduction in the cost of mature technologies such as Zigbee and Wi-Fi have led to new applications and larger deployments.

New analysis from New York-based Frost & Sullivan , titled Industrial Wireless Systems for Monitoring & Control , finds the reliability of wireless systems has increased considerably—driving them to new applications.

“Industrial wireless systems decrease installation costs by eliminating the need for wires, while also enabling sensing in remote and harsh industrial environments,” notes Frost & Sullivan Technical Insights Research Analyst Vishnu Sivadevan. “These systems comprise a significant mode of collecting additional data from field devices, machines, and processes, thereby enabling better maintenance and management of machines and processes.”

Industrial wireless systems are used for a broad spectrum of applications such as wireless sensing, wireless condition monitoring and control, as well as real-time location of people and assets in various manufacturing sectors. Wireless sensor networks enable managing production processes, material handling systems, people, and movement of assets.

Wireless systems also play an important role in the cost-effective automation of manufacturing systems. However, no single wireless communication technology exists for the broad spectrum of applications in an industrial setting—namely data collection, location and tracking, voice and video communications, as well as wireless transmission of control signals. A challenge also remains because different applications use different radio wireless technologies. Although a few wireless mesh networking technologies have matured, standardization of an efficient wireless technology for industrial use is still marked by a fluid trend.

“Signal attenuation and range, which contribute to the reliability of wireless devices, are major challenges for wireless system manufacturers,” says Sivadevan. “In the future, several wireless devices are likely to switch to more reliable radio standards such as ultrawideband [UWB], which has more location tracking accuracy and lesser signal attenuation.”

Investment in wireless technologies that can be scaled up and upgraded would be productive in the long term. It would be desirable to choose wireless systems that could integrate with existing information systems.

Access the full report .





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