Wireless Control and Wireless Safety!

Safe wireless (also known as safe cableless) is often applied to a machine using a “zone” concept to reduce the wireless communication distance. As wireless machine communications increase, application questions include the following.

12/20/2010


J.B. Titus, machine safety bloggerWireless technology and applications have grown rapidly over the past few years, and safe wireless communication has become part of the discussion. This is particularly important when you look back thirty years or so when communication and control bus technology was driving most of us crazy. We’ve been through the “proprietary” bus stage when suppliers found this approach superior to the “open” bus approach most large end users wanted for their applications. The technology, however, developed quite rapidly and today the distances are greater, communication can be very fast, reliability has increased dramatically, and it’s even applicable for security and safety applications. When compared to wire or cable communication and control wireless technology can be more flexible, less costly to install, and can offer operational savings.

Recently, we’ve seen wireless machine safety applications emerge and the machine safety application standards are re-writing their requirements to address the applications using this technology. In most cases so far it appears that the safe wireless communication is the same as on certified safety bus systems as you hear suppliers promoting their systems. Let’s take a moment and look under the hood.

Safe wireless (also known as safe cableless) is quite often applied to a given machine using a “zone” concept, which dramatically reduces the wireless communication distance. In one of Control Engineering’s recent most read articles, “How to choose wireless technology for industrial applications,” you can read about the importance of distance in wireless applications. It’s my opinion that one reason suppliers use a concept called zone control is to optimize the reliability of communication by creating very short distances between antennas. Yet, at the same time several more (and growing) unrelated wireless devices may also be within the wireless communication zone. These other devices may just be communicating to the general machine control architecture and have nothing to do with machine safety applications. Examples of these machine mounted devices could be temperature sensors, vibration sensors, switches, and pressure sensors…….to mention a few.

A lot of folks in industry, and me included, are wondering how industry applications standards are going to address this multiplicity of simple to complex devices.  The complex devices are usually something like a cableless operator panel used for machine set-up, clearing of faults, etc. as in the blog Cableless (Wireless) Operator Panel Applications.

Has anyone come across this emerging issue and can you provide some advice how measures that can be applied to prevent unintended communication problems and possible hazards?     

  INTEGRATED SAFETY COULD BE YOUR OPPORTUNITY – CONSIDER IT!

 

As a side note – The 2011 updated NFPA 79, Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery, was previously expected for release this month. The 2011 NFPA 79 schedule was recently modified and the current expected release date is June, 2011.  

Submit your ideas, experiences, and challenges on this subject in the comments section below. Click on the following text if you don't see a comments box, then scroll down: Wireless Control and Wireless Safety!

Related articles:

How to choose wireless technology for industrial applications

Cableless (Wireless) Operator Panel Applications

Machine Safety – Cableless vs Wireless

Contact: www.jbtitus.com for “Solutions for Machine Safety”.



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.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
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.
Additive manufacturing benefits; HMI and sensor tips; System integrator advice; Innovations from the industry
Robotic safety, collaboration, standards; DCS migration tips; IT/OT convergence; 2017 Control Engineering Salary and Career Survey
Integrated mobility; Artificial intelligence; Predictive motion control; Sensors and control system inputs; Asset Management; Cybersecurity
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This article collection contains several articles on how automation and controls are helping human-machine interface (HMI) hardware and software advance.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.

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

Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.

(copy 5)

click me