Wireless in '07: unified, scalable, secure

Honeywell unveiled an industrial wireless roadmap for customers at its annual Users Group Symposium on June 12. Starting with wireless technologies in 2002, the map leads to a 2007 next-generation technology: one, scalable, secure wireless mesh, a "cloud" to enable end-users fine-tune plant operations and improve plant employee productivity.


Honeywell unveiled an industrial wireless roadmap for customers at its annual Users Group Symposium on June 12. Starting with wireless technologies in 2002, the map leads to a 2007 next-generation technology: one, scalable, secure wireless mesh, a "cloud" to enable end-users fine-tune plant operations and improve plant employee productivity. Industrial automation and wireless experts outlined Honeywell initiatives, including secure network technology that extends applications to improve compliance, safety and security, reliability, and optimization, incorporating all wireless needs, remote sensing among them. Users packed two wireless roadmap sessions, more than 300 persons each by one estimate.

Honeywell says it will ensure that its wireless technology ties into the work of the evolving industrial wireless standard bodies, such as the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation (ISA) Society SP100 and Wireless HART committees. "With increased economic pressures, the continuing advancement of cost-effective wireless technology, and with standardization on the horizon, it's clear that we are at the tipping point for wireless to have a real impact in the plant," says Jack Bolick, president of Honeywell Process Solutions.

Recent customer feedback shows that plant personnel seek a secure, reliable, scalable, power-managed and multi-functionally strategic wireless "cloud" for use in their facilities. Currently, many traditional wireless networks support only single devices. For example, plants require one network to support hand-held devices and a separate one to support process sensors. Additionally, these networks have different security configurations and compete in the same bandwidth, leaving plants more vulnerable to network failures.

The new network system from Honeywell, incorporating technologies from at least four vendors, will support various industrial protocols. Up to 30,000 devices, such as tablet PCs and sensors, will co-exist with other wireless devices like PDAs, pagers, walkie-talkies, and cell phones. Other key network features include the same built-in cyber security technology used for the Experion Process Knowledge System (PKS) and a redundancy feature that automatically routes critical information if a device fails.

Next-generation Honeywell wireless systems, based on Honeywell's 802.11-based mesh network, with translators to other networks as needed, are expected to include:

  • Go-anywhere sensors with self-contained power sourcing;

  • High-speed monitoring that can provide up to 1-second updates; and

  • Longer battery lifeā€”up to 10 years in majority of applications.

Thousands of sensors and hundreds of handhelds are expected to work in one subnetwork within an overall Honeywell architecture, at 54 Mbps, with 9 Mbps effective throughput, on 2.4 GHz.

Honeywell noted 11 requirements that regularly came up when talking about wireless needs with users: security, reliable communications, good power management, open, multi-speed monitoring, multi-function, scalable, global usage, quality of service, multi-protocol, and control ready.

Honeywell wireless offerings include XYR 5000 wireless transmitters (installed at more than 200 sites globally) and mobile hand-held devices (IntelaTrac PKS and the mobile Experion Station). Application cited include:

  • Capital saving of 37% by using a wireless transmitter for pressure sensor data, compared to running conduit under the Colorado River in Argentina.

  • In a refining application, a $1 million investment in wireless returned $2 million in benefits in a year, so return on investment was six months.

  • Ted Lamp, at Texas Petrochemicals, Houston, installed a wireless system for $25,000, as opposed to $100,000 for a wired solution for volatile organic chemical monitoring.

  • In an extreme case, an assumed data value in a customer's calculation was replaced by live data updated in real-time by a wireless connections: payback was one day.

More than 200 customers have been working with Honeywell wireless products since 2002, Nestle, Smithfield Foods, and St. Bobain among them. Across all Honeywell business areas, more than 35 million wireless sensors are installed globally; related patents number more than 3,400; more than 50 design implementation engineers work in the area.

Search on wireless atop www.controleng.com to see related coverage in articles, news, and products.

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