Wireless Use Grows

More Suppliers Are Pushing the Advantages of a Technology That Is Slowly Earning Some User Confidence

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Earlier this year, we surveyed our industrial networking audience about its current wireless networking habits. Here's a sampling of what we found.

Some 55% of the respondents said they had wireless applications or were planning deployment during 2010. That number was 39% when we asked in early 2009.

They identified 802.11b/g (26%), and 802.11n and WirelessHART (both 23%) as the most common types used.

Our respondents said their most common uses of wireless were for monitoring (61%) applications. Many of these are not mission-critical variables, since nearly half of the respondents said they need only a one second or longer cycle time.

When asked what variables they monitor with wireless, 58% identified process variables. That's up modestly from 53% in 2009. Another 10% identified security, and 7% said they monitor variables from rotating equipment.

Their biggest concern about using wireless was its reliability/data loss (44%). Following that were security issues (20%), a desire for standards (15%), finding adequate vendor support (11%) and concern about sensor power/battery life (9%). 

Boxed Talk

Wireless in a Box Ethernet version enables deployment of wireless Ethernet, and an I/O version allows for installation of multi-point wireless direct I/O. They are NEMA 4X- and IP67-rated, are available in a stainless-steel or plastic enclosure, and have a WiFi 2.4 GHz modem, which can function as an access point, bridge, client or router. The enclosures come with power supply, circuit and surge protection, terminal blocks, ground blocks, antenna and cables.
Weidmüller; 800/849-9343; www.weidmuller.com

Weidmuller 

Network in a Network

RAD-WHG/WLAN-XD WirelessHART gateway has an integrated 802.11b/g WLAN transceiver to connect up to 250 WirelessHART field devices, converting HART data to Modbus TCP or HART UDP. The integrated WLAN can serve as the backhaul connection, allowing the gateway to be installed in the field closer to the monitored devices to create a clustered network topology, creating several smaller WirelessHART networks with a wireless connection to the host system. The gateway uses the 802.11i (WPA2) standard with 128-bit AES encryption to protect the WLAN data.
Phoenix Contact; 800/322-3225; www.phoenixcontact.com

 Pheonix Contact

Solar Power Supply

BWA-Solar-001 is a FlexPower solar supply designed for powering SureCross wireless network devices with an integrated charge controller, rechargeable battery pack, AC wall charger and mounting hardware. The battery pack recharges in direct sunlight and continues to power the devices autonomously when sunlight is not available. The solar supply is suited to applications that require more power than a single-cell DX81 battery can supply.
Banner Engineering; 888/373-6767; www.bannerengineering.com

 Banner Engineering

BLUETOOTH SLAVES

The 750-644 Bluetooth RF-Transceiver module provides bidirectional, wireless communication between I/O nodes. Within 10 ms, the 750-644 exchanges data up to 1, 000 m (line-of-sight) or 100 m (within buildings). One 750-644 master can communicate with up to seven slaves on a personal area network (PAN), also known as a piconet, via Bluetooth 2.0+EDR radio technology. Slave-to-slave data transmission is possible indirectly through the master. Configuration is accomplished with Wago-I/O-Check 3 software.
Wago; 800/din-rail; www.wago.us

 Wago 750-644 Bluetooth RF-Transceiver

Clean Wireless

Wireless RTD probe/transmitter assembly has a stainless-steel probe and polypropylene water-tight transmitter housing, and offers 3-A approved thermowells for CIP sanitary applications. Each wireless probe assembly transmits process temperature, ambient temperature, signal strength and battery status in real time.
Omega Engineering; 203/359-1660; www.omega.com

 Omega Wireless TRD probe/transmitter

Cool Hot Spots

RLXIB-IHxN series of 802.11n Industrial Hotspot radios provides plant-wide network integration and easy deployment in the field using a single web page setup. The radios use multiple input, multiple output (MIMO), which uses up to three antennas to enable data rates to 300 Mbps. The radios can operate in the 5 GHz band with 23 non-overlapping channels.
ProSoft Technology; 661/716-5100; www.prosoft-technology.com

 ProSoft RLXIB-IHxN series of 802.11n Industrial Hotspot radios

Wireless Routers

IndustrialPro M2M routers provide secure, cost-effective wireless connectivity to remote locations and assets. As reliable primary WAN connections or backup to existing network links, the routers are suited to harsh industrial environments where space may be limited and wired connectivity not feasible.

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