Wireless Use Grows

Nov. 11, 2010
More Suppliers Are Pushing the Advantages of a Technology That Is Slowly Earning Some User Confidence

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;

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;

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;


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;

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;

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;

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.
Sixnet; 518/877-5173;


WirelessHART Gateway connects the wired structure and wireless network with its network management to organize and control the wireless network and connect this to a control or SCADA system. Field device signals are received and passed on via the appropriate bus protocol in the fieldbus. The gateway can be installed in Zone 1 areas and can serve up to 250 WirelessHART field devices.
Pepperl+Fuchs; 330/486-0002;


OneWireless industrial mesh network is formed with industrial wireless nodes, called multinodes, that self-discover to create an industrial mesh network within seconds. The nodes include IEEE 802.11 and IEEE 802.15.4 standard radios that communicate simultaneously with Wi-Fi clients. The network supports multiple protocols including Modbus, HART and OPC, along with enabling seamless communication with existing automation and control applications.
Honeywell; 800/822-7673;


Scalance W784 line of IP30-rated wireless LAN access points includes an aluminum housing and a small footprint to be wall-mounted or panel-mounted on a 35 mm standard mounting rail. The access points support the Wi-Fi-protected access (WPA2) specification and the advanced encryption standard (AES) for 128-bit encryption, along with MAC address filtering. The access points also support the standard point coordinated function (PCF) protocol as well as industrial PCF (iPCF).
Siemens Industry; 800/964-4114;


Industrial-grade Wireless LAN Access Points have IEEE 802.11n (draft 2.0) interfaces. Multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) send and receive technology enhances communications in the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequency ranges. The access points are available as BAT300-Rail, designed for installation on standard DIN rails in control cabinets; and BAT300-F with IP67 housings for direct field installation.
Belden Industrial Solutions; 765/983-5200;


AW-XAP enclosure houses WLAN access points, routers and bridges for 802.11b/g networks in hazardous locations. Two Div. 1 antennae atop an explosion-proof enclosure enables a WLAN access point in a Class I, Div. 1 area. An alternative glass antenna dome permits mounting stock whip antennae. The enclosure system has third-party approval from UL, and ATEX certification when specified.
Meriam/Adalet Wireless; 216/281-1100;

Talk to My Machine

Talk2M, a web-based remote access platform for eWon network hardware, provides three versions of remote access, advanced tools for remote diagnostics with an open platform for predictive maintenance, exception monitoring, and product management. Talk2M Free version allows access for test and proof of concept.
eWon; 412/586-5901;

Managed or Unmanaged

Harsh-duty Ethernet switches support four- or eight-pin M12 twisted-pair cable and four- and five-pin, 7/8-6 UN power cable. The four-pin switch is suitable for EtherNet/IP applications with managed and unmanaged options, and the eight-pin switch is suitable for standard Ethernet applications. The switches support 10/100BaseT with twisted-pair Ethernet cable. The unmanaged switches have five or nine ports, and the managed switch has nine ports, one of which is used as an RS-232 configuration port.
Turck; 800/544-7769;

Fiber Power

EKI-2525SPI ruggedized, four-port, 10/100BaseTX PoE unmanaged switch with integrated 100BaseFX single-mode fiber connectivity allows transmission of both power and data to Ethernet devices over standard twisted-pair Cat 5/5e/6 cables. Based on IEEE 802.3af, it has a supply of 48 Vdc at up to 15.4 W per port. It is ruggedized with redundant 48 Vdc power inputs, 4 MV Ethernet ESD protection, power line surge (EFT) protection of 3 MV, and operating temperature range of -40 to 75 °C.
Advantech Industrial Automation; 800/205-7940;

Solid Conversion

netBrick IP67-rated gateway for harsh environments uses M12 connectors for connectivity to most of the industrial automation protocols, and each conversion is preprogrammed for straightforward I/O mapping. netBrick can be a slave or master device on the network. As a master, the system configuration tool is used for configuration.
Hilscher North America; 630/505-5301;

Easy Cable Routing

Pro/Engineer Wildfire 5.0 cabling and piping design new user interface largely eliminates the need for menus, instead providing easily accessible toolbars with icons that put important tasks at your fingertips. The asynchronous environment makes it possible to temporarily pause a routing command to designate additional components and then resume routing where you left off. A new routing toolbar consolidates the core cabling features, reducing mouse travel and clicks. The consolidated Route Cables dialog box serves as the main entry point for all major routing tasks: cable creation, selection and routing.
PTC; 888/782-3772;

Low Latency

Gen II Zlinx wireless I/O product line features peer-to-peer mirrored I/O mapping, low-latency response rates of 8 msec/digital, field calibration, user-defined fail-safe output states and Modbus compatibility in a snap-together, expandable modular design. A remote I/O connection can be set up to any serial or Modbus system without running wire.
B&B Electronics; 800/346-3119;


Temperature Transmitter

The Rosemount 248 wireless temperature transmitter is a single-point transmitter using IEC-approved (WirelessHART) technology. The single sensor transmitter accepts thermocouple, RTC, millivolt and ohm inputs, and has industry basic performance.
Emerson Process Management; 800/999-9307;

Wireless Retrofit

Bullet WirelessHART adapter enables wired HART field devices from any supplier to communicate with host applications using WirelessHART technology. It is wired permanently to a standard HART field device, or connected anywhere on the 4-20 mA current loop with a junction box.  The retrofitted field device communicates its analog process variable over the existing wiring to the DCS with no wiring changes. The Bullet simultaneously communicates the digital PV and device diagnostic information over the WirelessHART network.
MACTek; 440/423-0955;

Fast Bridge

Falcon Series FWO-755 proprietary 5.8 GHz IEEE 802.11 Outdoor Wireless Bridge for Point-to-Point industrial wireless applications provides up to 40 Mbps data rate for over 50 km connection in outdoor environment. The IP-68 housing protects the device from harsh outdoor environment, and built-in Power over Ethernet design reduces the cost of power cable installation.
Ethernet Direct; 978/499-9270;



The Wonderware IntelaTrac system includes configurable software and ruggedized mobile hardware solutions and can be operated using smartphones, PDAs, rugged handheld computers, laptops and PCs to enhance the productivity of mobile workers. IntelaTrac is structured around a suite of components, which include software, hardware, secure wireless infrastructure and RFID technology. IntelaTrac v. 3.2 offers simplified integration with multiple back-end systems.
Invensys; 949/727-3200


MatchPort b/g Pro embedded wireless networking module includes Ethernet-to-wireless bridging and SmartRoam technology, enabling MatchPort to switch between wireless access points and bridge wired and wireline networks. SmartRoam tracks the signal strength of nearby access points to prevent disruption in the wireless connection by transitioning to the access point with the strongest signal. The module is designed to transparently bridge existing Ethernet-ready devices to a wireless network.
Lantronix; 800/ 526-8766;


The AWK-5222 has two independent RF modules for establishing independent wireless connections for rapid failover. The two independent RF modules are designed to give more topology choices to fit different wireless applications. In addition, it has a wireless redundancy mode to increase reliability, and its wireless bridge mode optimizes wireless distribution system. The AWK-5222's AP Client mode can be used to provide Internet access in areas where cabling would be too expensive or impractical to install. The AWK-5222 is also compliant with IEEE 802.3af, power over Ethernet (PoE).
Moxa; 714/528-6777;


Wireless sensor network (WSN) platform, a remote monitoring solution with NI LabView graphical programming software and low-power wireless measurement nodes, is an integrated solution to provide the required measurement quality, power management and reliable hardware for long-term, remote deployments. The software integrates with the battery-powered, industrial-rated NI WSN measurement nodes that can be deployed in rugged conditions. LabView also offers native Web connectivity for remote interaction with wireless systems.
National Instruments; 800/258-7022;


WT30 Wireless Serial Communications system consists of one master and multiple slave I/O stations with expansion capability for up to 64 slaves—more than 1,000 I/O. The wireless serial master collects on/off data and provides an RS-232C (CompoWay/F) interface to a personal computer or PLC. Pre-tested function blocks in CX-One software are included to simplify WT30 communications setup using Omron's CS, CJ and CP1 families of PLCs. The I/O Slave terminals are available with 16 inputs or a combination of eight inputs and eight outputs.
Omron Electronics; 866/88-omron;


InduraNetp features coexistence frequency management (CFM), so the system can coexist with other wireless systems in the 2.4 GHz ISM band and give immunity to interference from other wireless services. InduraNETp can be added to a new or existing I/O block without changing hardware. A maximum of 64 operational and safety input/output modules, each with two or four I/O, can be installed in any order alongside a single PSSuniversal head module.
Pilz Automation Safety; 734/354-0272;