Machine control: Lack of wireless interoperability concerns industrial automation engineers

Lack of interoperability is one of various concerns plaguing engineers considering adoption of wireless technology.

11/24/2008


According to Frost & Sullivan research, approximately 83% of the end users across process and factory automation rated interoperability as a medium to high concern. Although the end-user concern is expected to hamper the adoption of wireless in the near future, the upcoming standards like SP100.11a and wireless HART are going to address this issue. In addition, numerous suppliers are supporting the initiatives that aim to establish a common standard. The increasing success stories of smooth wireless integration and functioning are likely to reduce end-user conservatism and raise the level of adoption of wireless devices.

End users’ perspectives on interoperability

End users

The level of concern varies depending on different parameters such as end-user environment, types of wireless devices being used, the application area and the experiences of the end user with wireless devices. The refining and pharmaceutical industries, for example, expressed a greater concern over interoperability among end users. They believed that integration with the existing network is important and the presence of numerous controls, fieldbus and automation devices implies that the wireless devices need to integrate seamlessly into the existing network. Similarly, in the oil and gas and the water and waste water industry wherein one of the preferred application areas for wireless devices is telemetry, end users were convinced that the wireless devices must be compatible with each other in order to ensure that there is a smooth flow of data.
In the past, interoperability was not as important as currently. People predominantly built their own systems or purchased them from a single supplier. Increasing plant automation, however, has spurred the demand for wireless devices and systems for numerous applications, such as monitoring, alarm and telemetry.Systems and solutions are often based on proprietary protocols without reference to a common standard or architecture. As a result, these devices offered from multiple suppliers are not often compatible with one another. So even though options have increased, end users have become concerned about device incompatibilities. End users are wary of becoming locked into a proprietary system that may hinder future advancement. Integration issues with existing infrastructure increases time and effort spent by end users, while they would prefer plug-and-play devices.
End users are also extremely cautious of investing in wireless when they are not confident about the benefits that wireless has to offer. Given that the end users will not be very keen to replace the existing fieldbus installation, suppliers should look to integrate wireless devices to existing wired fieldbus. Currently, plant IT network assumes significance over automation network. Hence, clear boundaries and smooth integration of wireless is required with the wireless devices existing network. The existence of several open and proprietary communication protocols results in confusion among the wireless devices end users who are ready to wait until a uniform standard is established.
Attainment of true interoperability would require an open architecture such as software based systems, in which various standards could be applied. Software is capable of communicating with both standards-based and proprietary wireless networks. End users also believed that the lack of universal standard is another major concern. The need of the hour is to have common standards that offer interoperability from both the supplier and the end-user perspective.
To increase the level of adoption of wireless in the discrete and the process environment, suppliers must come up with wireless devices that are compatible with each other. Moreover, there is a need for a uniform standard and open architecture to enable the seamless integration of wireless devices with existing plant infrastructure such as fieldbus or other control systems. End users must also be convinced about interoperability through product trials or demos suppliers should offer. Nevertheless, the future for wireless devices in automation looks promising.
— Syed Tauseef Ahmad is a research analyst for industrial automation and process control in Europe at Frost & Sullivan. Contact him through Joanna Lewandowska . Please provide your full name, company name, title, telephone number, e-mail address, city, state and country.

Edited by C.G. Masi , senior editor
Control Engineering News Desk
Register here and scroll down to select your choice of eNewsletters free.





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...
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
Your leaks start here: Take a disciplined approach with your hydraulic system; U.S. presence at Hannover Messe a rousing success
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
Putting COPS into context; Designing medium-voltage electrical systems; Planning and designing resilient, efficient data centers; The nine steps of designing generator fuel 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