ISA100 starts interest group for wireless networks

ISA100, the Wireless Systems for Automation standards committee, recently formed an interest group for wireless networks in factory and discrete automation.


ISA100 , the Wireless Systems for Automation standards committee, recently formed an interest group for wireless networks in factory and discrete automation. A teleconference was held with participants representing automation equipment vendors and users interested in understanding where wireless networks may be applied in different environments.

During the October ISA100 meeting in Houston, support formed to address the need for standards for wireless networks in environments in addition to the processing environments on which the first ISA100 standard focuses. The new interest group will be oriented toward factory automation, discrete parts manufacturing, high-speed machines and other non-process applications. Jim Reizner of Procter & Gamble and Mark O'Hearne of Millennial Net will lead the group.

The interest group was formed to explore opportunities and requirements that are distinctly different from those currently under consideration in ISA100 working groups. The interest group will survey the market to define a broad scope of interest in the community, identify interested parties, and analyze current contributions from other organizations. The group will then consider if a standards effort led by ISA is warranted, based on use cases and current efforts underway with other organizations. If so, the group will develop the scope, purpose, deliverables, and schedule for a proposed new working group - which will then work to define and develop the standard for ISA and ANSI approval.

In the coming weeks, the group is reaching out to the automation industry to determine the interest level for developing a standard for a wireless factory/discrete automation system to serve hybrid and discrete industries such as consumer goods, electronics, automotive, aerospace and others. In contrast to environments driving the ISA100.11a (release1) and other emerging interest groups, this group will consider assembly, batch, blending, packing, robotics, shop floor data collection and other applications. These are likely to drive different demands for mobility, scalability, point density and lower latency.

During the initial conference call to discuss the interest group, participants from Procter & Gamble, General Motors, and Ford voiced user perspectives about how their environments are different from what is currently covered in ISA100.11a. High-speed production lines involve many types of sensors beyond the process sensors (e.g. pressure, flow and temperature) covered by ISA100.11a. In many plants, it is inconvenient or impractical to run wires for sensor I/O, and eliminating high flexure forces associated with cables is a high priority for many manufacturers. Participants also agreed that their companies want to use wireless to build automated production machines, as well as for assembly lines and material conveyors.

For more information on how to participate in the interest group, contact Charley Robinson at or (919) 990-9213.

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