Inside Machines: Crane Moves with IEEE 802.11n wireless

With the range of motion of industrial gantry cranes (in some cases over a kilometer), wireless Ethernet allows connectivity with moving equipment, avoiding the safety hazards and risk of moving wires or fibers.


Collecting production, alarm, and maintenance data in production facilities is a critically important yet intricate task, especially in manufacturing plants with multiple moving parts, such as steel mills with overhead and gantry cranes. Such cranes can be the primary material handling system for the facility. Because of the range of motion of cranes (in some cases over a kilometer), using wireless Ethernet allows connectivity with moving equipment, without the safety hazards and risk of moving wires or fibers. In conjunction with the manufacturer’s IT department, Schneider Electric recently implemented wireless Ethernet at a steel mill, enabling the facility to collect vital data accurately, efficiently, and safely.

Each crane has its own Ethernet  network and is integrated with  multiple Schneider Electric Magelis  human-machine interfaces.

First, a high-speed IEEE 802.11n network was used to configure network access points to ensure wireless coverage for crane movements. Security of the wireless Ethernet was then established through MAC and IP address filtering, which is handled at the subnet mask level, and the crane network was isolated from the rest of the facility via subnet mask, MAC, and IP address. Each device assigned access to the crane network must have a separate MAC address listed for router/firewall access, and all wireless access requires SSID (service set identifier) and WEP (wired equivalent privacy) key security.

Each crane was then assigned its own Ethernet network and integrated with multiple Schneider Electric Magelis human-machine interface (HMI) and industrial PC (IPC) units, Modicon M340 programmable automation controllers, Advantys distributed I/O, Connexium Ethernet switches, and crane VFDs. Each of these devices featured built-in web servers with product-oriented configuration and maintenance web screens, as well as assigned IP addresses and web server password protection. To increase functionality, the crane-based Magelis IPC HMI units were programmed with Vijeo Designer HMI software, which enabled them to serve all HMI screens via a Web Gate remote access function. With product and HMI web server access, maintenance personnel were given access to all alarm, diagnostic, and parameter information for the control system, as well as programming access to the M340 PAC and Magelis HMIs.

Information passed via IEEE 802.11n wireless used for steel mill cranes adds to efficiency.Additionally, a Vijeo Citect SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system was integrated into the plant control system, to monitor all cranes for key performance indicators (KPI), maintenance, and alarm data.  And to reduce network communications and increase data protection, the crane-based control systems publish data to the SCADA system—eliminating the need for the SCADA to poll the cranes for data.  In the case of a plant wireless system failure, the crane-based control system stores up to seven days’ worth of data. When the network connectivity is reestablished, the stored data will be automatically published to the SCADA system. The Vijeo Citect system also uses a web server to publish screens and report data, allowing multiple users to display the plant-level data without having to install a SCADA software package on every computer.

This wireless industrial networking system, after implementation, allowed the steel mill to capture manufacturing data in the most accurate and least hazardous way possible, enabling the facility to increase efficiency and overall production.

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 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...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

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.