Wireless applications become critical to operation

Frost and Sullivan study finds implementation has evolved with more robust systems


Since its initial introduction on the plant floor, wireless technology has evolved and so has its perception among end-users. Wireless devices are no longer seen solely in terms of wire replacement but, more importantly, as a critical part of plant optimization processes.

“Wireless devices reduce maintenance costs, boost productivity and improve the quality of production,” said Frost and Sullivan research analyst Anna Mazurek. “At the same time, initial implementation does not require vast restructuring or expensive machinery replacement. This combination of plant optimization, quick return on investment and easy installation is highlighting the benefits of industrial wireless automation.”

Industrial wireless devices optimize plant equipment workflow through better asset allocation and improved monitoring of machine health. These devices support plant staff with constant data access as well as easy communication. This continuous and instant access to real-time data also supports enhanced operational flexibility and mobility.

However, the perception of wireless devices as a non-critical improvement threatens to limit penetration levels. The technology provides end-users with connections that are often already covered by wires, which are likely to last another decade. Moreover, plant managers do not yet perceive wireless technology as the harbinger of significant production process improvements.

“End-users must realize that wireless technology not only replaces wires but has the potential to reshape and optimize production process,” said Mazurek. “Vendor efforts to promote the technology have fallen short, particularly among the more reluctant potential wireless adopters.”

Wireless devices manufacturers must educate end-users not only about basic technological features, but also on the full range of usage benefits and opportunities offered by wireless communication.

“Most importantly, end-users need education on how the technology can be tailored to address their particular needs,” said Mazurek. “The market needs another four to five years of pilot applications and technology trials to address all pending concerns about the technology performance and convince end-users on the advantages of deploying industrial wireless devices.”

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan’s Analysis of Wireless Devices in European Industrial Automation Market research finds that the market earned revenues of $218.0 million in 2011 and estimates this to reach $539.5 million in 2016.

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