Cellular communication for remote I/O

Dear Control Engineering: I was looking at the announcement about using cellular service for industrial devices. Is this really practical? Wouldn’t it be hugely expensive?

11/05/2010


Dear Control Engineering: I was looking at the announcement about using cellular service for industrial devices. Is this really practical? Wouldn’t it be hugely expensive?

The idea of using commercial cellular networks for industrial communication isn’t all that new, but it hasn’t been as widely deployed as something like wireless Ethernet. For example, there have been systems to call operators’ phones in the event of an alarm for some time. Like all technologies, its practicality and cost effectiveness depends on how and where you use it.

It’s true that among various wireless technologies, cellular is one of the more expensive to support, however there are ways to mitigate that, and you may find that in some cases your other choices are even worse.

The where you should use it is typically for remote I/O where there aren’t other less expensive alternatives. If you have a cluster of automation at some distant location, using an existing cellular network may be cheaper overall than installing your own infrastructure. Of course if it’s so remote that it’s outside even commercial coverage, you’re out of luck.

The how relates to the nature of the data you have to send. If you need constant communication or have high bandwidth requirements, cellular will probably be too expensive. Ideal applications involve small amounts of data with infrequent updates. Or, situations where you call the devices only when circumstances demand. Since you will have to pay based on minutes or amount of data, the less the better.

In this particular case, ProSoft Technology has created this service package to help users work with the commercial provider. Taking an industrial cellular modem to your local phone store will probably draw very confused looks from the sales folks who are used to dealing with Droids and iPhones.

Peter Welander, pwelader@cfemedia.com

If you would like to leave a comment on this blog posting, and don't see a comment field, click the following link and scroll down.

Comment on Ask Control Engineering - Cellular communications for remote I/O.



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Save energy with automation; Process control system upgrades; Dispelling controll myths; Time-sensitive networking; Control system integration; Road to IANA
Additive manufacturing advancements; Machine vision enhances robotics; Fieldbus evolution; Process safety; Advice from System Integrators of the Year; Road to IANA
Salary and career survey: Benchmarks and advice; Designing controls; Remote data collection, historians; Control valve advances; Hannover Messe; Control Engineering International
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields

(copy 5)

click me