Overcoming Concerns about Wireless PACs and I/O in Industrial Automation

April 23, 2009
Industrial Automation Flirts with Wireless
The automation industry increasingly finds wireless attractive, and for several reasons.
- Running a wired network incurs significant labor and material costs, while wireless networks cost far less.
- Wireless offers connectivity for remote areas or areas not currently served by wired networks.
- Wireless controllers and I/O can manage devices and processes even in inaccessible areas, or areas where network wiring is difficult or impossible to install.
- And wireless can offer a way to provide proof-of-concept for a new project before incurring the expense of a wired network.

For all these reasons, automation engineers are beginning to seriously consider wireless solutions (specifically WLAN, wireless Ethernet, or Wi-Fi) for all or part of their applications.

But with all these good reasons to use wireless, several concerns remain. Among them are security, network performance and reliability, availability and cost of I/O components, and the necessity of choosing between wired and wireless solutions up front.