Wireless-Network Advances Need Reliable Radio Standards

The growing concern of industrial companies to reduce costs, enhance safety and collect data efficiently has led to a greater uptake of industrial wireless systems. While advancements in wireless technologies give rise to reliable wireless sensors and sensor networks, a reduction in the cost of mature technologies such as Zigbee and Wi-Fi has led to new applications and larger deployments. Analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Industrial Wireless Systems for Monitoring & Control, finds the reliability of wireless systems has increased considerably, driving them to new applications.

“Industrial wireless systems decrease installation costs by eliminating the need for wires, while also enabling sensing in remote and harsh industrial environments,” notes Frost & Sullivan Technical Insights Research Analyst Vishnu Sivadevan. “These systems are a significant mode of collecting additional data from field devices, machines and processes, thereby enabling better maintenance and management of machines and processes.”

Industrial wireless systems are used for a broad spectrum of applications, such as wireless sensing and wireless condition monitoring and control, as well as real-time location of people and assets in various manufacturing sectors. Wireless sensor networks enable the management of production processes, material handling systems, people and movement of assets, according to the report. No single wireless technology exists for the broad spectrum of applications in an industrial setting, namely data collection, tracking and communications. A challenge remains because different applications use different radio wireless technologies.

“Signal attenuation and range, which contribute to the reliability of wireless devices are also a major challenge for wireless system manufacturers,” says Sivadevan. “Due to this, in the future several wireless devices are likely to switch to more reliable radio standards such as ultra-wideband (UWB), which have more location-tracking accuracy and less signal attenuation.”

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