WiFi technology for industrial environments

Set up a wireless infrastructure to support a wireless mobile workforce. Here’s advice on industrial environments, challenges include environment, signal integrity, and protocol selection.

02/22/2012


In setting up wireless infrastructures in industrial environments, challenges include environment, signal integrity, and protocol selection.

Industrial environmental conditions more demanding than in an office environment, with extreme temperatures, dirt, dust, moisture, shock, and vibrations. Industrial grade chipset have improved (passive) cooling and sturdy design to ensure reliability and longevity under these adverse conditions.

PoE Octopus switches by Belden require less space than switches with an external power supply and are easier to install and maintain. Courtesy: Belden

High- power electrical consumers, such as engines, welding robots or drives with their frequency converters, cause additional challenges. These can cause overvoltage, glitches, spikes, and noise on power supply lines due to magnetic induction, potential shifts, or high-frequency (HF) coupling. Industrial-grade networking gear uses internal dc-dc coupling with filtering and stabilization that compensates these effects.

Also, the radio can be heavily affected by stray HF noise, various other radios in the environment, and generally highly increased electromagnetic pollution compared to office environments. A special danger in outdoor applications has proven to be a constant threat to office-type access points: lightning strikes in the vicinity, with their extreme currents, cause high voltage spikes in outdoor WiFi antennas, which can easily destroy the radio. New-generation radios designed for industrial use employ overvoltage protection and narrow filters that keep other radio frequencies away and therefore increase reach, reliability, and throughput.

Belden HiVision network software

For any new installation only IEEE 802.11n should be chosen as the wireless standard. This standard increases data throughput compared to IEEE 802.11 b or g, although this is often not the prime concern. It also uses spatial information, which means that waves reflected from walls or steel structures are used just as direct waves are for retrieving the data.

Therefore, IEEE 802.11n offers much better stability of the data streams especially in industrial environments where a lot of large structures and metal objects are common.

- Prof. Dr. Peter Fröhlich is director R&D, networking and controls, Hirschmann Automation and Control GmbH, a Belden company. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media.

www.hirschmann.com 

www.belden.com

ONLINE extra comment from Fröhlich: “At Belden, our Hirschmann, GarrettCom, and Tofino (see diagram below) brands offer a wide range of network switches, routers, firewall and wireless access points and clients for mission critical and industrial applications, all managed by our Industrial HiVision network management tool. Hirschmann began early on to apply WiFi technologies to harsh environments. Over the years we have gathered a lot of experience in various industrial applications. What we have learned about specific challenges in the industrial environment have all gone into a completely new hardware design for our OpenBAT product line.”

Note: Froehlich, traveling at the time of this information request, used a mobile wireless device to compose, edit, and send his advice and comments about industrial infrastructure for mobile wireless devices.

controleng.com/wireless

controleng.com/HMI

Tofino decrease risk of cyber security intrusion.



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
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.
Learn how to create value with re-use; gain productivity with lean automation and connectivity, and optimize panel design and construction.
Go deep: Automation tackles offshore oil challenges; Ethernet advice; Wireless robotics; Product exclusives; Digital edition exclusives
Lost in the gray scale? How to get effective HMIs; Best practices: Integrate old and new wireless systems; Smart software, networks; Service provider certifications
Fixing PID: Part 2: Tweaking controller strategy; Machine safety networks; Salary survey and career advice; Smart I/O architecture; Product exclusives
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Look at the basics of industrial wireless technologies, wireless concepts, wireless standards, and wireless best practices with Daniel E. Capano of Diversified Technical Services Inc.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.

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

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.