Best practices in wireless

Prior to choosing industrial wireless networking technologies, ask 4 basic questions to help get the most out of a wireless network.

06/03/2014


Choosing industrial network technologies is easier when considering 1) functional needs, 2) network location and connections, 3) industrial certifications, and 4) management and integration. Courtesy: MoxaThe advancement of wireless technology over the past five years has contributed to a growing acceptance of wireless technology within the industrial realm. Wireless networking has proliferated in industrial applications that were once considered too remote, too expensive, or too risky to hardwire with typical hard bus or fiber networks. Still, as a relatively new technology within industrial applications, choosing and designing your wireless network solution can be difficult.

Prior to choosing a wireless networking solution, it is important to ask four basic questions to help ensure that you get the most out of a wireless network. 

1. What am I trying to accomplish?

This question can be rephrased in a couple of ways, such as, "How large is my required bandwidth? Or "How many end-devices am I connecting to?" Asking yourself these questions will elicit the correct advice and solution offering from a wireless solutions provider. For many wireless industrial networks, bandwidth is a secondary requirement to availability and redundancy. Understanding exactly what traffic will be running over the wireless local area network (WLAN) will ensure that your wireless network is reliable and built to size. 

2. What am I connecting to?

"Industrial wireless" is a broad term. Wireless technology has become so prolific due to its ease of deployment in locations once too remote or expensive to hardwire. However, with this added benefit, it is important to take temperature, electromagnetic impedance, vibration, inter-unit barriers, and moisture abrasion into consideration. Additionally, be mindful of the location of each unit and the distance between each module. On an oil platform, for example, wireless signals often must pass through a jungle of pipes and tanks while competing with high levels of noise. Manufacturing facilities, as diverse as they may be, can be subjected to high volumes of cellular interference and vibration in parts of the manufacturing operation. Deploying a comprehensive wireless network requires a physical audit of the field operation as well as a logical one. 

3. What certifications are necessary?

The issue of certifications takes the previous question of network placement to the next level of validation. Leading industrial networking manufacturers have gone to great lengths to test and certify their products along the stringent international regulatory demands dominant within the various industrial verticals that they service. For example, in the oil and gas vertical, ATEX or UL Class 1, Division 2 certified products are generally required for any field-level application. Additionally, depending on the network exposure to chemical or water intrusion, marine-grade certifications, such as those from DNV GL and American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), are often a requirement. With this said, other industrial segments have less stringent regulations that vary between government and region.

4. How do I want to manage my network?

After reaching this point in the conversation with a wireless solution provider, both parties should know what the bandwidth requirements are, as well as the redundancies and certifications that the wireless network demands. This will allow the customer to intelligently select a host of wireless solutions and products with specificity to their design preference, price, and sensitivity to cyber security and operational risk. Now the customer must ask itself how it wants to manage its network via HMI. There are many network management software solutions available in the market. It is important to make sure that if the customer already has a solution to manage its network, that it is compatible with its wireless solution.

- Thomas Nuth is global vertical manager, oil and gas; and Ariana Drivdahl is product marketing manager, industrial wireless; both with Moxa. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

ONLINE

www.controleng.com/wireless

www.controleng.com/webcasts has wireless and other network advices, including PDH opportunities.

www.controleng.com/archives ...in June, this article has additional links and images.

Key concepts

  • Best practices for selection of industrial wireless involve asking a few basic questions. 
  • Know what you're trying to accomplish and what you're connecting.
  • Also know required certifications, and how you want to manage the wireless network. 

Consider this

Knowing what questions to ask helps ensure you get what you like in a wireless network, rather than having to like what you get.  

ONLINE extra

www.moxa.com 

See related Control Engineering industrial networking articles below.



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
2016 Engineering Leaders Under 40; Future vision: Where is manufacturing headed?; Electrical distribution, redefined
Strategic outsourcing delivers efficiency; Sleeve bearing clearance; Causes of water hammer; Improve air quality; Maintenance safety; GAMS preview
World-class maintenance: The three keys to success - Deploy people, process and technology; 2016 Lubrication Guide; Why hydraulic systems get hot
Flexible offshore fire protection; Big Data's impact on operations; Bridging the skills gap; Identifying security risks
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing arc flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me