Honeywell: We’ve laid the foundation for wireless process control

Upgrade to Honeywell OneWireless network features redundant gateway for better reliability.
By Sidney Hill June 16, 2009

Honeywell claims the latest version of its OneWireless industrial mesh network solution lays the foundation for manufacturers to control production processes over wireless networks.

Honeywell wireless network gateway
Photo courtesy of Honeywell

Honeywell claims the redundant gateways in the newest verion of its OneWireless solution lay the foundation for wireless process control.

Wireless process control networks could be installed much faster-and at much lower cost-than traditional wired networks. Emerson Process Management, a close competitor of Honeywell, claims installing a wireless industrial network can be as much as 90 percent cheaper than deploying a comparable wired network.

Manufacturers have embraced the use of wireless networks in industrial settings primarily for collecting data or tracking assets in areas where it is too difficult or too expensive to run wires, but they generally are fearful of using technology that has not proven 100-percent reliable for critical process control applications.

Honeywell argues that its OneWireless R120 solution, introduced June 16, at the Honeywell Users Group Americas conference, takes the first step toward alleviating those fears by offering a redundant wireless system gateway (WSG).

"Many plants today are only using wireless for non-critical applications, but that will undoubtedly change in the future as the trust in and adoption of wireless technology grows," said Jeff Becker, global wireless business director. "Plants will control critical processes over wireless networks, which must be as reliable as wired networks. OneWireless is ready for these new demands with built-in features that enhance data availability and system reliability."

Honeywell says its new WSG manages data between wireless field instrumentation and the plant’s process control network (PCN). It serves as a backup gateway to ensure that data is always delivered even if the main gateway malfunctions or fails.

When paired with existing OneWireless redundancy features, Honeywell contends, this approach creates the first industrial wireless system with complete hardware and radio-frequency redundancy from the field instrument to the PCN connection. Additionally, unique failure recovery features help prevent data loss and the network can recover in less than two seconds from any field hardware failure.

OneWireless supports multiple communication protocols and thousands of field devices on a single network to help improve overall plant safety, reliability, and efficiency. Each gateway is designed to support up to 100 transmitters, with a single OneWireless server designed to support up to 40 gateways.

OneWireless R120 also includes enhancements such as adaptive transmit power control for XYRTM 6000 field instruments that should improve network scalability and reliability. This feature saves battery power and minimizes radio interference by enabling field devices to use the least power possible to transmit signals to OneWireless multinodes, or access points.

New OneWireless products now ship with OneWireless R120 software or firmware. Any existing OneWireless devices installed at user sites can be easily upgraded by an over the air software update to support the new functionality while supporting current investments.

Previously, Honeywell has said that wireless sensor networks can address industrial, economic, and societal issues , as well increase efficiency.