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u? Key drivers associated with adopting wireless technologies and how the evolution in
wireless technologies has opened the door to a new class of automation architecture that
offers adopters a significant strategic advantage.

u? ihe advantages of spread spectrum over fixed frequency licensed radio transmissions and
determining whether new systems may interface with existing systems for the purpose of
preserving investments in existing infrastructure.

u? @pplications and benefits of wireless technologies for a successful wireless architecture


ihe evolution in wireless technologies has opened the door to a new class of plant automation
architecture that offers adopters a significant strategic advantage. Driven by substantial and
measurable cost savings in engineering, installation, and logistics, as well as dramatic
improvements in the frequency and reliability of field data collection, automation experts and Ii
professionals are presented with an opportunity to deliver a major, positive impact to their
respective companies¶ bottom line.

In terms of the key drivers associated with

adopting wireless technologies, the cost benefits
are the most intuitive. However, another
important consideration is safety. Some of the
key drivers include:

u? ¦  

   : Installation of

wirelessly connected assets is up to 10
times cheaper than the wired alternative
and offers much faster startups and
accelerated profits. In addition to the
installation savings, engineering costs are
dramatically reduced as extensive surveys and planning are no longer required to route
wire back to junction boxes or control rooms. ihe reduced costs in wiring engineering,
installation, and maintenance, combined with the increased data gathering flexibility, is
the primary driver for wireless migration.
u?     : Replacement of manual readings with automated measurement
results in information that is more accurate, timely, and consistent.

: Deployment of additional points in a network is incremental and may
include integration into legacy systems.

 : ihe ability to quickly diagnose and troubleshoot plant operations
and support predictive maintenance programs by monitoring facility assets. @dditionally,
identify costly problems leading to excess use of energy or raw materials.

u? c    : By reducing human exposure to hazardous environments. @lso, more

frequent measurements and early detection of issues can help reduce or even prevent
incidents or accidents.

Unfortunately, there is no one type of wireless technology that solves all problems. iherefore, in
order to maximize the return on industrial wireless networking investments, companies must be
able to select the best technology for a given application.

By evaluating the attributes of various wireless technologies, essential technology decisions can
be made to guarantee the successful implementation of a wireless architecture solution. ihese
attributes include the RF technology itself, security, interference rejection, sensitivity, power
management, and the ability to embed wireless into existing OEM technologies. Furthermore,
the determination needs to be made whether new systems may interface with existing systems for
the purpose of preserving investments in existing infrastructure. Determination might also be
made with respect to the radio providers¶ commitment to backward compatibility to extend the
life of the system and drive down the overall lifetime cost of implementation.


In 1985, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued rules permitting use in the
Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) Bands (902-928MHz, 2.4-2.4835 GHz, 5.725-5.85
GHz) at power levels of up to one Watt without end-user licenses. ihere are two very common
spread spectrum modulation methods used in these bands: Frequency Hopping (FHSS) and
Direct Sequence (DSSS).


Rather than transmitting over a static spectral segment, FHSS radios pseudo-randomly vary
carrier frequency, quickly hopping through multiple channels while sending data. Interference is
avoided by hopping over different frequencies, each of which has a different interference effect
or characteristic. ihis provides FHSS with collision-free access by allocating a specific time slot
and frequency for its transmission. @ frequency-hopping scheme, combined with error detection
and @utomatic Repeat requests ensures the data is reliably delivered. Further, with FHSS
systems, it is anticipated there will be competition for the airwaves, so interference avoidance
and management are designed into the system. Other modulations are more susceptible to
interference because they do not anticipate interference by design.

Direct Sequence spreads a narrow-band source signal by multiplying it with a pseudo-random

noise signal. ihe resulting signal is then spread over a large range of continuous frequencies.
ihis introduces redundancy into the transmission, enabling a receiver to recover the original data
even if parts of it are damaged during transmission.


In addition to the unlicensed ISM Band, licensed radios operate in the UHF and VHF bands, and
as the name indicates, users must purchase a site license to operate radios in a specific area.
Consequently, these systems can be expensive to setup and offer slow data rates (i.e., typically ”
9600 kbps), which are not likely to support industrial data communication requirements in the
future. However, UHF/VHF radios are allowed higher transmit power, which increase the range,
and because they operate at lower frequencies, they typically have better propagation
characteristics. However, one of the drawbacks of a licensed system is only one system can
operate at that location. iherefore, overlapping networks and other communication capabilities
using the same frequency band is not possible.


Spread spectrum has two significant advantages over fixed frequency licensed radio
transmissions. ihe first is no FCC license is required by the user. Even though licensed spectrum
is available, the user must go through the process of obtaining the license. Once obtained, they
are good for a single site and have a defined term.

ihe second advantage spread spectrum, specifically FHSS, has over fixed frequency
transmission is spread spectrum radio transmissions are far less susceptible to interference. In an
industrial plant environment, machinery and other equipment generates interference over a very
broad spectrum of frequencies. iherefore, if one frequency is affected in a FHSS system, for
example, the data is quickly transmitted over another, clear channel. ihis gives the technique
greater coverage, channel utilization, and resistance to noise than comparable direct sequence
systems. @ licensed solution has no such capability.


FHSS technology has immediate advantages in terms of security, immunity to interference,

robustness, and network reliability.

FHSS systems were originally designed for military applications during World War II. ihe very
impetus for these systems was data security and interference avoidance that existing fixed
frequency systems could not reliably provide. Concerns about the integrity of signal transmission
and reception are prevalent amongst adopters who are worried about leaving their control and
business networks vulnerable to hacking or denial of service attacks. In fact, the issue of security
is widely seen as the most significant barrier to industrial wireless adoption.
Since, as the radios communicate, their communication frequency is changing rapidly (as much
as 1,000 times per second), FHSS provides an additional layer of security and makes
transmissions very difficult to detect. io outside listeners, transmissions simply look like noise
spread over the spectrum, with only a small signal at any one given frequency.

ihis technique assures the integrity of the data, because without the hopping sequence, no
outside sources can listen to a communication. ihis technique also allows communications to
continue even if a number of the frequencies in the 26MHz band are blocked. ihe devices
simply hop to another frequency.

@dditional data security is gained through 128bit and 256bit @dvanced Encryption Standard
(@ES). ihe @ES algorithm uses an encryption key (password). Each encryption key size causes
the algorithm to behave slightly differently, so the increasing key sizes not only offer a larger
number of bits with which you can scramble the data, but also increase the complexity of the
cipher algorithm.


@s with existing data transmission over wire, Packet Protocol @cknowledgment is supported by
error checking. Error checking is designed to ensure the data received by any spread spectrum
radio is not forwarded from its buffer until it is acknowledged as a correct transmission,
guaranteeing what is received is identical to what is sent. In order to accomplish this, Cyclic
Redundancy Check (CRC) is generated giving the packet a unique digital signature.


ihe probability of detecting any random error increases as the width of the checksum increases.
Specifically, a 16-bit checksum will detect 99.9985% of all errors. ihis is far better than the
99.6094% detection rate of an eight-bit checksum, but not nearly as good as the 99.9999%
detection rate of a 32-bit checksum. With a 32-bit CRC, there are over 4 billion possible CRC
values. io be exact that is 232 or 4,294,967,296. By comparison, the commonly used 16-bit
CRC offers a chance data error in one in 65,536 transmissions (216), a relatively small number
of transmissions in a work cycle, especially given that many radios transmits packets as often as
50 to 100 times per second.


Receiver sensitivity is an important specification to consider. ihe more sensitive the receiver, the
weaker the transmitted signal can be yet still get through. In other words, the distance and
obstructions between a transmitter and receiver can be greater.

One reason receive sensitivity may be confusing is it is expressed in a unit of measure known as
a decibel (dB). @ decibel is a ratio expressed on a logarithmic (exponential) scale. @ 10:1 ratio is
10 dB, and a 2:1 ratio is 3 dB. @ 1:1 ratio is 0 dB, while ratios of less than 1:1 are expressed as
negative numbers. For example, a 1:2 ratio equals -3 dB.

Because receive sensitivity indicates how faint a signal can be successfully received by the radio,
the lower power level, the better. ihis means the larger the absolute value of the negative
number, the better the receive sensitivity. For example, a receive sensitivity of -110 dBm is
better than a receive sensitivity of -107 dBm by 3 dB, or a factor of two. In other words, at a
specified data rate, a receiver with a -110 dBm sensitivity can hear signals half as strong as a
receiver with a -107 dBm receive sensitivity.

# $  

For the shorter range installations in industrial facilities, a common question is, ³Is line of sight
required for all radio links?´ ihe answer is often, no, but radio waves can travel through a
variety of objects with different levels of attenuation. ihe area over which the radio waves
propagate from the antenna is known as the Fresnel Zone. Like the waves created by throwing a
rock into a pool of water, radio waves are affected by the presence of obstructions and may be
reflected, refracted, diffracted, or scattered, depending on the properties of the obstruction and its
interaction with the radio waves. ihis is often how the signal gets to the receiver when there is
no line of sight. However, this effect attenuates the signal, and affects how a radio will operate
without line of sight.
Proper use of antennas and the ability to adjust output power provide a great degree of assistance
in overcoming these issues and getting messages through. Industrial quality directional and high-
gain omni-directional antenna allow the radio communications at long distances through a
crowded industrial facility. @t the same time, the use of low-gain antennas can be used to keep
radio signals from straying unwanted distances or directions.


With many existing wired networks, the user is locked into using only one particular protocol
simultaneously. @lternatively, by using wireless architecture, several protocols operating over
the same communications layer is possible given the user greater flexibility.

@ny wireless device needs to tie into existing control systems. Getting information into the
myriad of existing control systems is not a small task. ihe 4±20 m@ signal and switch closures
are universally translatable. Digital input allows more data flow at significantly lower cost, but
generally adds a level of complexity to any system. Modbus and OPC servers offer degrees of
acceptance where large data flows are required.


Products intended for industrial applications should use industrial-rated components and
therefore reliably operate over industrial temperature ranges (-40° to +75°C). iemperature
extremes are commonplace in many applications. In addition, these products are generally better
constructed than consumer devices and continue reliable operation under shock and vibration


Industrial wireless modems typically carry some form of UL certification. Most commonly this
UL certification is for Class 1, Division 2 environments, which permits radio operation in the
presence of flammable or explosive gases, fluids, or vapors. Having this certification is also
beneficial because a company can standardize on a single type of device, and use it for many
applications, regardless of the environment.


¦ ( @sset information is available from applied and embedded sensory points
enabling sophisticated diagnostics, remote monitoring and control, and plant
optimization. ihe form factor of wireless devices allows for easy integration into existing
OEM technologies and housings.

u? c  : Environmental alarms and personnel management allows for greater safety and
compliance with OSH@ regulations, especially in dangerous environments and in
locations where the plant is in close proximity to residential areas. @lso, completely
unmanned first response systems are now available limiting human exposure in the event
of a release or catastrophic incident.
u? c  : Detect intrusions, control access, report smoke/fire, or perform video
surveillance within the facility.

u?  "  &

 : Wireless connectivity allows mobile workers to access their
application and perform their job where they work. Whether it is logging data or
managing operations, worker mobility impacts productivity and efficiency.

u?  &
 " : iracking asset location allows for better use of
assets as well as regulatory compliance for the use, storage, and transport of hazardous

u? ¦   

: Wireless sensor networks, or Mesh Networks, represent an
emerging technology that has great potential for widespread applications. ihese networks
consist of a large number of simple nodes with limited power sources and functionality,
but they offer greater utility than the sum of those individual nodes. Greater flexibility
and connectivity may be achieved by integrating these networks with other wireless


Information is power. @s such, the ability to gather time-critical information, digest it, and react
upon it is the key to continuously adapting to change with increasing reliability and profitability.
No one type of wireless technology solves all problems. iherefore, it becomes very important
that the necessary monitoring, management, and security capabilities be evaluated to ensure the
wireless architecture selected maximizes limited resources, while at the same time allowing the
disparate applications to share the spectrum within the context of their importance, time
sensitivity, and mission criticality.

! ' 

Madanmohan Rao provides a comprehensive round-up of developments in the

dynamic world of industrial wireless technology.


)  $ 
" )   + 

 )   &     

ey features for industrial wireless solutions will continue to be ultra low
power consumption, robustness against physical and electrical interference,
self-configuration, openness to WAN and complementary wireless
technologies, configuration in tree, star and mesh network topologies, design
for multiple network co-existence, and developer APIs with product
development toolkits.

The wireless machine-to-machine (M2M) world is also evolving rapidly with a

growing number of devices connected to each other in various types of
industrial and domestic networks. Using scalable wireless mesh networking,
wireless products should be able to handle configurations scalable up to any
M2M wireless (including industrial applications) is sometimes regarded as the
Dzthird wavedz of wireless, after office-based (Wi-Fi) and consumer based
(mobile) communications.
Sometime soon, the five billionth device will connect to the Internet, according
to IMS Research. And the overall number of connected devices will quadruple
over the next 10 years.
The research firm projects that in 10 years, there will be six billion cell
phones, most of them with internet connectivity. An estimated 2.5 billion
televisions today will largely be replaced by TV sets that are internet capable,
either directly or through a set-top box. Yet, the greatest growth potential is in
machine-to-machine, according to IMS president Ian Weightman.
Oemand for wireless sensor networks (WSN) is showing significant growth
following a period in which adoption was impacted by the economic
downturn. In 2009, 802.15.4 chipset shipments were down almost 30 percent
compared with the previous year, according to a recent ABI research report
on the WSN market.
Because they are based on emerging technology, wireless sensor network
adoption suffered during 2009 as pilots and early projects were scaled back or
put on hold. However, 2010 has seen a significant rebound and strong
shipment growth, according to ABI research principal analyst Jonathan
Collins. Indeed, a strong uplift in shipments in 2010 will help drive growth
from a little more than 10 million chipsets in 2009 to 645 million in 2015,
which equates to a CAGR of 99.6 percent.
Ethernet everywhere
Ethernet is now being increasingly used for industrial applications, in line
with standards IEEE 802.3 (Ethernet) and 802.11 (wireless LAN). Flexible and
efficient communication networks with a wide range can be installed via
And it is also making inroads into the domains of other industrial networking
products, thanks to its stability, speed, bandwidth, flexibility and
communication management. ARC Advisory Group has pegged the market for
industrial Ethernet at more than three million nodes by 2012.
When industrial heavyweights take M2M seriously, practitioners can expect
economies of scale to kick in (and some amount of vendor lock in as well!),
according to Pike Research industry briefs.
For instance, Cisco and Itron are collaborating on standardized IP-based end-
to-end platforms for smart meter hardware, leveraging IPv6 for interoperable
RF mesh field area networks. The IETF is also working on an IP-based ZigBee
stack version as part of its Smart Energy Profile 2.0 feature. Smart grids will
soon make their way to industrial plants as well.
The next-generation IEEE 802.11n wireless communication standard is more
reliable and supports greater bandwidth and speed, recommends Bill
Wotruba, director of networking and connectivity products for Belden. It
helps to minimize common connectivity and throughput problems, such as
when an antenna is partially obstructed by moving objects.
IEEE 802.11 has new security enhancements, such as AES encryption and WEP
authentication, which alleviates some concerns. A single wireless system can
support multiple devices and protocols with common security.
Green IT
Wireless industrial applications are a cutting edge of the Dzgreen ITdz
movement. From data centers and desktops to mobiles and mesh networks,
the green movement is on the radar and balance sheets for IT and
communications professionals.
The fastest-growing and arguably most attractive segment in alternative
energy and energy efficiency lies in hardware, software and networking
equipment, according to Silicon Investor magazine.
Industry heavyweights such as Honeywell and Johnson Controls are now
joined by start-ups such as Oaintree Networks, Adura Technologies and
EchoFlex in pushing the frontiers of M2M applications in areas like integrated
solutions and smart energy.
Given the potential ubiquity of such wireless nodes in industrial spaces, low
battery cost and maintenance costs are critical for network planners Ȃ hence
the importance of ultra low power wireless networks. The biggest technical
challenge for developing these ultra low power sensor networks is managing
the energy consumption without reducing range or functionality, like speed
and standards compliance, according to Greenpeak Technologyǯs CEO Cees
DzBy using a hardware based scheduler and synchronizer within the chip itself,
the radio only wakes up as needed to see if there is any data that needs to be
sent. If not, it returns to sleep. If there is data to be sent, the controller then
wakes up the microcontroller. The chip then communicates the information
and then goes back to sleep until the next time it is scheduled to wake,dz he

Robotics... unplugged
Robotic applications in industry reached the peak of the hype cycle in the
1990s, but are making a quiet come back now. Strong manufacturing is one of
the keys to global economic recovery, and manufacturing agility and
rationalization on all aspects of technology will be a modest part of this
recovery. Robotics rejoins wireless control engineering as one of the frontiers
of industrial plant revitalization.
For instance, by installing remote maintenance and diagnostics software on an
industrial robot welding machine, companies like Sims are able to remotely
monitor and control it using secure wireless connections.
This solution is based on eWON's Talk2M (Talk to Machines), an internet-
based remote maintenance and diagnostics service ramped up to meet the
security, reliability and traceability levels required by industrial applications.
The eWON range of industrial routers complies with a range of serial and
Ethernet-based modules including Siemens, Rockwell Automation, Schneider
Electric and Omron.
ABB has introduced a robot controller for robot cell applications, with
interactive displays and unified development environment for configuration,
debugging and visualization. ABB Robotics is active in metal fabrication,
foundry and electronics industries, and claims to have installed more than
175,000 robots worldwide.
After the past couple yearsǯ serious sales slump, the industrial robotics
industry is beginning to rebound, according to data from the Robotic
Industries Association (RIA). Recent installations provide examples of the
many ways in which automation is being employed to increase efficiency and
productivity, reduce costs, and improve product quality.
Vendor advances
A number of vendors are rolling out modular offerings in M2M wireless. For
instance, Radiocrafts has expanded its IEEE 802.15.4 product line with two
new modules, the low cost RC2400 and RC2400HP. They are designed for
ZigBee PRO, 6LoWPAN and other protocols based on IEEE 802.15.4. Typical
applications include smart meter reading, automation, and sensor grids.
Wireless applications are being rolled out not just for industry environments
with high temperature and toxic fumes but also those in the open and exposed
to rains. For instance, RFIO provider IOTronic has developed Gen 2 RFIO chip
solutions that are completely waterproof.
Zebra Technologies has announced a new RFIO printer-encoder; RFIO tag
manufacturer Xerafy, headquartered in Hong ong, has new tagging solutions
as well. UbiU, an RFIO solutions provider in South orea, is also focusing on
data management and integration solutions. DzAs the RFIO market is growing,
so is the demand for middleware in various industries," says UbiU manager
Brian Son.
Companies such as PCN Technology - active in industrial automation, control
and energy systems Ȃ have products that allow the multiplexing of a variety of
communication protocols. This helps customers quickly leverage installed
infrastructure for multiplexed controls, automation, and Internet networks,
according to Venkat Shastri, PCNǯs CEO.
While much M2M attention has focused on short-range communications,
companies like AvaLAN Wireless are also addressing long range industrial
wireless radio technology for robotics, industrial automation, access control
and smart grid markets. There are always good niches in areas like high
interference indoor applications and long distance outdoor applications.
Tyco Thermal Controlsǯ TraceTek technology enables wireless monitoring of
valves, which the company claims can result in up to 60 percent total system
cost savings thanks to features like leak detection. And Wavenis from Clarke &
Severn Electronics offers an optimized ultra low power and long-range
wireless solution for M2M applications.
On the mergers and acquisitions front, distributed enterprise network
solutions provider Aruba Networks has recently acquired Azalea Networks, a
supplier of outdoor mesh networks. The acquisition includes an operations
center in Beijing which will complement Aruba's existing R&O centers in
Bangalore and Silicon Valley. Azalea Networks offers mesh products for
critical industrial applications in the oil and gas, manufacturing and smart
grid sectors.
Some of these vendor advances are finding practical implementation across
Asia as well. For instance, Mahindra Vehicle Manufacturersǯ greenfield plant in
Pune, India, includes a wireless solution based on Rockwell Automationǯs
industrial Ethernet protocol and ProSoft Technologyǯs wireless
communication systems for real-time control and synchronization
In central Asia, plant wireless specialist Emerson Process Management is
expanding its presence in countries such as Azerbaijan, via a partnership with
Russian company Balteks; future countries targeted will be Belarus, Ukraine
and azakhstan. In the same sector, another regional player, Yokogawa
Electric Asia, recently clinched the Manufacturing Excellence Award (MAXA),
the most prestigious manufacturing accolade in Singapore.
RFIO renewal
Another entry into industrial and logistics wireless applications is via RFIO, as
in a number of Asian airports. For instance, the Asia Airfreight Terminal at the
Hong ong International Airport has deployed RFIO for cargo handling,
documentation processing and other services.
Australian technology firm Wi Protect offers tracking technology which is a
mix of active RFIO and ZigBee for wireless data transfers. Real-time tracking
systems can reduce data error and improve process efficiency, according to Wi
Protect general manager Jonathan Elcombe.
ThinkMagic CEO Tom Grant cautions that RFIO uptake has been uneven and
subject to marketing hype and a series of false starts. DzThe realization of that
vision was dependent on the availability of a family of embeddable RFIO
radios,dz he observed in a trade press interview. Multi-scale radio
communication devices should co-exist along with the need to link RFIO with
other modes such as GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
New members are also signing up to join the RFIO Consortium, a group of RFIO
vendors that hold patents essential to the development and use of ultra high-
frequency (UHF) RFIO products that leverage standards defined by EPCglobal
and the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO). Members
recently signed up include the Electronics and Telecommunication Research
Institute (ETRI).
ZigBee buzz
The ZigBee Alliance now has close to 350 institutional members around the
world, and industry enthusiasts even call ZigBee a global wireless Dzlanguagedz!
ZigBee vendor Ember Technologies has now made it to the Inc 5000 list of Inc
magazine for emerging companies, thanks to its offerings in security
monitoring and automation. Boston-based Ember also has an office in Hong
ong. In May 2010, Ember announced that it had shipped 10 million
ZigBee chips, the first company to achieve the milestone. And the companyǯs
revenue is on track to grow by more than 300 percent this year compared to
2009, according to CEO Robert LeFort. Ember also has 50 million energy
meters in the US under contract to put ZigBee in them, according to Skip
Ashton, senior vice president of engineering at Ember.
Meanwhile, Atlantik Elektronik now has a new line of XBee and XBee-PRO ZB
embedded ZigBee modules based on the EM357 System on Chip. Such
additions can facilitate integration with embedded microcontrollers lowering
cost of development and shortening time to market.
Freescale Semiconductor, a leading supplier of IEEE 802.15.4 chipsets,
recently announced the MC1323x system-on-chip device family for ZigBee
RF4CE electronics. Reza azerounian, senior vice president and general
manager of Freescale's Microcontroller Solutions Group, expects ZigBee
wireless applications to continue their rapid growth.
Other niche players emerging in areas like ZigBee-based realtime location
systems (RTLS) are Skytron and Awarepoint.
Standards spotlight
In the in-plant wireless arena, the ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute (WCI)
recently announced certifications of six ISA100.11a wireless devices
conducted for National Technical Systems. They cover pressure transmitters
and temperature transmitters. Such certification can facilitate broad market
adoption, according to Andre Ristaino, managing director of WCI.
The ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute (WCI) is a nonprofit industry
organization providing users and developers with market awareness,
educational information, technical support, and compliance for the ISA100
family of universal industrial wireless standards.
The ISA100.11a industrial wireless networking standard is the first in the
ISA100 family of standards. It helps supplier companies build interoperable
wireless automation control products. As a result, manufacturing sites are
able to create, modify, optimize, and scale a wireless network quickly, cost-
effectively, and seamlessly. Planned additions to the ISA100 a family of
standards include support for backhaul functionality and factory automation.
Institute members include end users, technology suppliers, research and
development professionals, academia, and other industry consortia and
standards bodies. Early members include Chongqing University of Posts and
Telecommunications, Fuji Electric, Apprion, Honeywell, Nivis, Shengyang
Institute of Automation, Yamatake and Yokogawa.
As for WirelessHart, an estimated 30 million devices around the world use the
wireless based Hart protocol in process applications, according to industry
observers. This has been ratified as an international standard (IEC 62591) and
at least at the moment, there appear to be two competing standards for
process industry applications, i.e. ISA100.11a and WirelessHart.
One of the networkǯs leading proponents, Emerson Process Management, has
introduced a WirelessHart vibrating fork liquid level switch, which reportedly
allows level detection to be made in locations previously inaccessible or too
costly for wired devices. Emerson claims the switch will not be disrupted by
the usual factors of flow, bubbles, turbulence, foam, vibration, solids content,
coating, liquid properties and product variations.
Typical applications include overfill protection, high and low level alarms,
pump control (limit detection) and pump protection or empty pipe detection.
The Rosemount 2160 switch is a component of the companyǯs PlantWeb
digital architecture solution.
In some implementations, WirelessHart self-organizing mesh networks have
enabled switches to automatically find the best communication path, with
greater than 99 percent data reliability.
Emerson offers a range of IEC 62591 (WirelessHart) certified wireless field
instrumentation and plant wireless network hardware. These include MPM
(machine position monitoring) and MHM (machinery health management)
devices and wireless interfaces.
Practitioner checklists
When it comes to M2M, practitioners should make sure that new modules of
any vendor offerings offer backward compatible with existing hardware and
software, allowing them to leverage their existing deployments.
Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) has tremendous and far-ranging
potential, according to Bob Heile, who is a member of the IEEEǯs 802.15
Working Group on Wireless Personal Area Networks, P2030 Work Group Task
Force 3 and chairman of the ZigBee Alliance.
However, the quantity of data being generated, collected and analyzed in the
M2M world will be orders of magnitude greater than before, he cautions. Not
surprisingly then, there are a whole range of start-ups and analytics services
emerging in areas like meter data management (MOM).
AMI is of no value to the utility or its customers unless it develops into
something much more than an interesting IT challenge, Heile urges. The
higher-level strategic concern of MOM is converting high-quality data into
timely business intelligence that companies can actually use to make good
decisions in operations management.
MOM could fuel a range of valuable capabilities such as more cost-effective
planning, anticipating and averting system outages, and identifying particular
systems that are at risk of failure.
M2M practitioners entering into agreements with wireless solutions vendors
should ensure that their arrangements cover upgrades to existing facilities,
renewal options, quality of service, measurement instrumentation, and asset
management solutions.
Many industrial M2M solutions are built in conjunction with plant expansions
and alterations, hence the challenge in dealing with multiple vendors and
versions of technologies. Cost factors may also come in the way of migrating
whole-scale to newer versions of products, though the newer ones may be
more effective or easier to maintain.
How long do you want your wireless devices to be self-powered? How many
devices and applications do you want your network to handle now and in the
future? How many application interfaces will need the wireless data, and how
often? How important is standards compliance for these platforms? These are
other questions for M2M practitioners to address when assessing new plans
and corresponding solutions.
Network and traffic planning is important in this regard, so are convenience
and system performance. Noise and interference can be challenges for
wireless in industrial environments, but application engineers now have
many creative solutions. Latency and delay factors due to dropped or blocked
data will remain a challenge in wireless environments, cautions Oan Payerle,
business unit manager for the OataComm Test division at Ideal Industries.
Useful checklists for such practitioners can be found in DzGuidelines for
Industrial Ethernet Infrastructure Implementationdz, developed jointly by
Rockwell Automation and Cisco Systems. Network designers tend to overlook
the physical infrastructure; about 70 percent of network problems are tied to
the physical infrastructure, and the rest originate on the logical side, like
errors in bandwidth calculations, according to report.
Standards-based evolution is expected to compensate for the plug-and-play
approach that inadvertently sets up real risks and lifecycle costs. Each
wireless technology has its own advantages. IEEE 802.11 frequently is used in
the plants because of the large amount of data exchanged between systems.
Cellular is popular with machine builders to enable remote troubleshooting at
the customerǯs location, adds Jim Weikert, strategic product manager for
wireless at ProSoft Technology.

Trends Ahead
An interesting trend to watch in the world of industrial wireless is the
increasing collaboration between traditional IT departments in the corporate
office and the process engineers on the plant floors, thanks to the penetration
of Ethernet in both; this spills over into areas like network monitoring,
performance analysis and optimization. DzAs plants expand, the demand for
wireless increases. Todayǯs wireless allows a robust architecture that is cost-
competitive,dz observes Hesh agan, director of technology innovation for
In sum, wireless is continuing to grow in the industrial space as some of the
newer technologies are more capable and secure. Choice does not always have
to be accompanied by complexity in this case, especially when future-proofing
is concerned.
`                  `  `
Next Generation Wireless LANs
       D      !!! "
      # $ `% 
Although 802.11a/b/g networks continue to be popular today, the next
generation of wireless applications, such as real-time voice and video streams
for remote monitoring, will require more bandwidth and reliability. To meet
the growing needs of these bandwidth-hungry applications, the latest IEEE
802.11n standard (published in 2009) offers blazing data rates of up to 300
Mbps. In contrast, 802.11b only supports a mere 11 Mbps, while 802.11a and
802.11g top out at 54 Mbps each. If you're looking to deploy a reliable and
secure wireless network for high-bandwidth applications, IEEE 802.11n is for
IEEE did more than just boost the bit rates supported by 802.11a/b/g when
they developed 802.11n. By dramatically changing the basic frame format
802.11 devices use to communicate with each other, 802.11n offers WLANs
increased channel size, higher modulation rates, and reduced overhead.
802.11n can operate in either the 2.4 or 5 GHz bands and is backwards-
compatible with existing 802.11a/b/g deployments to future-proof wireless

MIMO technology
The key technique behind enhanced data rates in 802.11n networks, called
Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO), refers to a link where the transmitting
end and the receiving end are both equipped with multiple antennas.
Radio signals reflect off objects, creating multiple paths. In conventional
transmission this causes interference and fading, but MIMO leverages the
multipath phenomenon. On the transmission side, MIMO uses spatial
multiplexing to send multiple parallel data streams simultaneously over the
same channel, thereby increasing the data rate and transmission power On
the receiving end, MIMO allows multiple signals to be combined into a single
signal, eliminating the effects of multipath fading. MIMO actually takes
advantage of radio reflection to improve wireless range and reliability.
Channel bonding
The amount of data that can be delivered relies on the channel width used in
data transmission. By bonding two or more channels together, more
bandwidth is available for data transfer. 802.11n uses channel bonding to
combine two adjacent 20 MHz channels into a single 40 MHz channel in both
the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands to provide increased channel width and the ability to
transmit more data.
Frame aggregation
Every frame transmitted by an 802.11 device has fixed overhead that limits
the effective throughput. To reduce this overhead, 802.11n introduces frame
aggregation, which is the process of packing multiple frames in a single
transmission. With this mechanism, instead of several sets of overhead for
different frames, only one set of overhead is used, which greatly reduces the
average delay and increases the throughput performance of the 802.11 WLAN.
What's in it for you?
Thanks to improvements such as MIMO, 802.11n achieves greater SNR (signal-
to-noise ratio) on the radio link, as well as more efficient MAC protocol and
radio transmissions. These improvements translate into benefits in three
areas: reliability, predictable coverage, and throughput.
Ȉ Reliability: Higher SNR means that more interference is needed to corrupt a
transmission, which translates directly into more reliable communication and
higher data rates.
Ȉ Low interference: Thanks to MIMO technology, areas that previously
suffered from destructive multipath interference now make use of that same
multipath effect to provide robust communication.
Ȉ High throughput: Since 802.11n is backwards-compatible, legacy 802.11
devices will be able to take advantage of higher throughput rates when
deployed on an 802.11n network.
Case in point
For train video surveillance, if each carriage has six cameras installed, and
each camera runs in full O1 mode with a 2 Mbps data rate, then two carriers
will use a total data rate of 24 Mbps. This poses obvious challenges for
802.11a/b/g networks that only support up to 20 Mbps of throughput. Moxa
offers 802.11n products with up to 120 Mbps throughput that can deliver
demanding video streaming applications on trains. Additionally, MIMO
technology and frame aggregation can transmit superior quality video
streams. MIMO enables higher bandwidth, reduced interference, and
enhanced connectivity, while frame aggregation ensures that content is
combined to support streaming video.
`%       #   % 
Getting Smart for Steel
How replacing traditional wired network with a wireless solution for process
control enhanced operations and worker safety in a traditionally harsh
Boosted production by as much as one batch per day. Cut maintenance costs
by US$200,000 annually. And improved worker safety. Thatǯs industrial
wireless technology, which has helped Northstar Bluescope Steel improve
furnace control at its mini-mill in Oelta, Ohio, USA.
At the plant, a self-organizing wireless network from Emerson Process
Management, and which is based on the IEC 62591 (WirelessHart) standard,
collects data used to control the temperature of cooling panels and water-
cooled burners on the millǯs electric arc furnace.
This data is critical to safe furnace operation. Overheating cooling panels can
lead to major furnace damage, with a blown-out panel costing as much as
$20,000 to repair. Production time is also lost when the furnace must be shut
down during maintenance or repairs.
DzBetter temperature control through wireless has allowed us to add up to one
additional batch per day,dz said Rob earney, maintenance supervisor for
Northstar Bluescope Steel. "With each batch worth as much as $200,000, that's
a significant advantage."
¦  c,     

u? By Hany Fouda on 1 November 2010
u? 0 comments

@ustralia's extensive mining operations, water projects, water and waste water treatment plants
and pipelines all lend themselves to using wireless to connect remote monitoring systems with
centralised SC@D@ systems and control rooms. But not everyone is convinced.

ihe last ten years have seen a dramatic change not only in the radio technology but more
importantly in how we use it as instrument and control engineers. @s more consumers line up to
acquire the latest Smart Phones with embedded Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and broad band capabilities, the
price of radio modules have plummeted. ihis has made it easy on industrial vendors to integrate
radio modules into a long list of devices and sensors.

ihe business case behind deploying wireless instrumentation is compelling. By eliminating

cabling and trenching, you can reduce the cost of deployment by as much as 70 per cent. Since
wireless instrumentation is battery powered, they are much easier to deploy in the field. Wired
systems can take days or weeks to be properly installed, whereas wireless instruments require
only the sensor to be installed in the process, saving hours or days and valuable resources. Other
instruments can be added as needed. If the business case is strong and the return on investment is
solid, why are some still reluctant to deploy wireless instrumenta tion in their facilities?

ihere are three main reasons: Reliability, @daptability, Integration.

 ( In industrial applications, reliability is a major concern. Wireless instrumentation
must be as reliable as conventional wired units. Even in simple applications like remote
monitoring, users come to expect a certain level of reliability and network availability.

For example, the controls and communications for a wastewater pump station, often located far
from the central control room, have to be reliable. If something goes wrong, maintenance people
have to be dispatched immedi ately. South East Water Company in Melbourne had that problem.
iheir dual submersible pump control (Figure 1) required the local controller to cycle between
two pumps, ensuring that both pumps were used approximately equally.

ihe local controller also had to report critical system data, such as flow totals and pump running
times to the central SC@D@ system. Grundy¶s Electrics, a systems integrator in Melbourne,
installed Control Microsystems SC@D@Pack controllers, local display panels, and DNP3 opti
mised radios at each pump station.

Radio signals are subject to reflection as a result of structure, trees, water bodies and buildings.
Furthermore, interference from near-by wireless systems such as cell towers adds more
challenges. RF design is getting better in addressing many of these issues. By designing highly
sensitive radio receivers, and using the transmit power more effi ciently with high gain antennas,
engi neers can establish highly reliable RF point-to-multipoint links.

 ( Wireless instrumentation networks are required to adapt to the existing
environment. It is not practical to move a well head, a compressor, tank or a separator just to
create a reliable wireless link. It is sometimes difficult to find a location for an access point or
base radio that provides reliable commu nication with the wireless instru ments. Relocating the
access point or base radio to improve the RF link with one sensor could result in degrading the
links with other sensors in the same network. @daptability can be addressed by using lower
frequency bands, such as the license-free 900 MHz, which tend to provide better coverage,
longer range and better propagation characteristics allowing the signal to penetrate obsta cles.
@lso, high gain external antennas that can be mounted as high as possible on a structure allow
access to hard-to- reach sensors which could be located at the bottom of a tank. Improved receive
sensitivity of radio modules also plays a crucial role in ensuring network adapt ability to various
industrial environ ments. For example, the Beypazari water system in iurkey is spread out over
700 sq km of mountainous terrain. ihey had problems with the distant locations of their alarm
systems, so maintenance staff had to visit each pumping station three times a day to check on
system opera tion. Because of the high cliffs, a wireless system appeared to be impractical.

Beypazari installed Control Microsystems SC@D@Pack controllers at each of the nine remote
sites. Wireless radios at each site and two wireless data concentrators ² one on a hill over
looking the town ² transmit critical data to the central SC@D@/HIM system. ihe
communication network is a mixture of 2.4 GHz radio modems and conventional UHF radio and
line modems that are ideally suited to the mountainous locale in which they operate. @lso, GSM
(a digital mobile telephone standard) was implemented at the central location to provide Short
Message Service (SMS) that sends alarms to operator cell phones.
¦   ( Managing and debugging dispersed wireless networks presents a new level of
complexity to field opera tors that could deter them from adopting wireless instrumentation
despite the exceptional savings. ihe wireless network integration dilemma is more apparent in
SC@D@ systems. Since wireless instrumentation networks are supposed to tie into the same
SC@D@ infrastructure available at site to relay valuable operating data to the SC@D@ host,
having the ability to manage the complete infrastructure as one network becomes essential.

Ensuring data integration is still a major problem. Some SC@D@ systems even have a separate
historian module that must be purchased as an add-on to handle the flood of data as a result of
adding wireless instrumentation networks. @ coal seam gas (CSG) opera tion in Queensland had
that problem. CSG, abundant in Queensland, is the same as natural gas and is collected from
more than 700 well sites scattered across the state. Parasyn Controls, based in iingalpa,
Queensland, is installing Control Microsystems¶ SC@D@Pack controllers at each site (Figure 2)
to collect data, provide local and remote control, report events, and communicate with central
SC@D@ systems via radio links. Standardising SC@D@ and wire less hardware from a single
vendor made it simple to connect the remote sites to the central SC@D@ systems.

@ new breed of advanced wireless instrumentation base station radios or gateways is now
emerging in the market place. ihis new generation of gateways integrates both a wireless
instrumenta tion base radio and a long range indus trial radio in the same device.

ihe integrated long range remote radio is configured as a remote device relaying information to
a Master radio at the main SC@D@ centre. ihe available two serial ports on the radio are config
ured to tunnel Modbus polling and diagnostic data simultaneously to the wireless instrumentation
base radio. ihis allows operators to manage and diagnose the wireless instrumentation network
through the existing long range SC@D@ infrastructure. Live data and status infor mation for all
field units are displayed in a separate view or integrated in the SC@D@ host.

On the data integration front, modern SC@D@ host software offers a fully integrated
environment that includes an integrated and scalable histo rian to handle more additional data
without going through expensive and sometimes lengthy upgrades. Developing the SC@D@
screens based on templates allow engineers to add data points easily and rapidly in their systems.



- (./001234..

While wireless technology has moved well beyond simple point-to-point connectivity, the
fundamental tenets of the technology remain the same. However, one shouldn¶t be put off, and
we don¶t all need to be certified RF engineers to start making informed choices. This article
looks to highlight the fundamental tenets of RF technology and empower more informed
decision-making in relation to which wireless technology to deploy relative to application need.

ihere can be little doubt that wireless technology is omnipresent in our professional lives at
present. From the touting of standards such as IS@100, WirelessH@Ri and IEEE 802.11, to
wireless sensor-based networks (WSN) and mesh technology, wireless systems are becoming
increasingly accepted and integrated into greenfield and legacy plants and applications globally.

However, as with much in life, a trade-off exists when deploying wireless. Informed decision-
making means looking at the criticality and latency of the PV in the process, the volume of
information needing to be transferred and the required communication distance and terrain - and
all of this should be relative to the frequency waveform properties, modulation scheme and
@ustralian Communication and Media @uthority (@CM@) guidelines.


Informed choices on wireless

technology begin with the
understanding that wireless
equipment manufacturers have
only a subset of the variables that
they can control and even these are
subject to regulatory compliance. R  The Fresnel zone between two antennas.
ihe balance of factors are
application or site specific and are
decision variables for the site
In design, manufacturers can control the amount of RF power emitted (to regulatory standards),
the amount of modulation (also, by default, a function of the regulatory body) and the receiver
sensitivity (the lowest RF signal that the receiver can reliably detect). Other decision variables
are application specific (Do I need 4-20 m@ or live video feed?) or site-specific (such as, How
far do I want to communicate and over what terrain?). ihese variables are pivotal and go to the
heart of good wireless technology decision-making.



Wireless communication involves modulating binary data onto a carrier waveform and
propagating it via the Fresnel zone (elliptical path of RF) between transmitting and receiving
antennas. ihe data is then removed (or demodulated) from the carrier wave for interpretation by
the receiving device. It is the obstruction of the Fresnel zone relative to the frequency waveform
properties, regulatory compliance, receiver sensitivity and modulation that will impact on
reliable communications over a given distance.


Radio frequency (RF) signals are often characterised by two common measurements - frequency
and power. Frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz) and RF signal strength is often specified in
milliwatts (mW) or decibels (dB). When working with radio-based systems, it¶s useful to
understand both and convert between them, as they will often be used interchangeably between
vendors. Moreover, conversion will be required to understand and comply with wireless
regulatory approvals (for example, when deciding on overall antenna gain).

ihe relationship between milliwatts and decibels is defined by the following equation:

dBm = 10 log10(RF power in mW)

ihe above equation shows radio signal strength expressed in decibels with reference to 1 mW of
RF power. iherefore, 1 mW of RF power = 0 dBm. Given that it¶s a logarithmic scale, a
doubling of RF power adds another 3 dB.


ihe question is often asked, how far will my radio signal reliably go? ihis is a function of a
number of factors beginning with waveform properties.

From your technical training you should remember that wavelength is inversely proportional to
frequency. Waveform diffraction (the ability of the waveform to bend around objects), reflection
(the ability to bounce off objects) and general object penetration is better at longer wavelengths,
and therefore lower frequencies, than it is at higher frequencies. Moreover, higher frequencies,
with their smaller wavelength, are more prone to scattering upon meeting obstructions (known as
multipath fading). ihis, and the modulation technique (discussed later), is the reason higher
frequency devices often have two or more antennas compared with a low frequency device.
In summary, the general rule is that obstacles, and their location relative to the Fresnel zone,
decrease the overall reliability and operating distance. @ny blockage impeding the Fresnel zone
from opening will decrease reliable communications distance, depending on the properties of the
transmitted waveform.


Irrespective of frequency, increasing a transmitter¶s RF power and antenna gain will increase the
communication range. ihis is due to the higher power mitigating the signal attenuation that
occurs as the signal passes through, and reflects or bends around, obstructions. In effect, RF
signals attenuate proportionally (through a constant medium) to the square of the distance. What
this means, practically, is that to double your reliable distance, you need to increase your RF
power level by four times (ie, add 6 dB). One way to do this is by using a higher gain (more
directional) antenna. ihe benefit of a directional antenna is that it achieves greater power (and
distance) in one direction while reducing spill (and sensitivity) to the sides and back, giving
greater control over interference.

However, government regulations on the amount of emitted RF power are enforced to ensure
coexistence and management of the radio spectrum. ihese allowable limits are known as
effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP) or effective radiated power (ERP) and are referenced
to an isotropic or dipole antenna respectively. @s a result, an antenna with higher gain (such as a
dish or array) will increase the EIRP in the direction the antenna is facing. io work out the
effective power, you add the gain of the antenna in dBi to the transmitter power in dBm to get an
effective dB power emitted, after allowing for insertion losses such as cable and surge arrestors.


It is timely that we introduce what are termed µlicensed¶ and µlicence-free¶ bands. In general,
licensed systems are those that the @CM@ grants for a given geographic area, given channel size
and level of RF power. Licence-free or µindustrial, scientific and medical¶ (ISM) use does not
require a licence to be granted, but users need to query vendors on the ability of their equipment
to mitigate interference on the same band.


Communication distance is also a function of radio receiver sensitivity levels, which are often
specified at a particular bit error (BER) or frame error rate (FER), such as -108 dB @ 1x10-
BER. For a given frequency, radio products with an ability to receive at lower levels will
outperform those with poorer levels of receiver sensitivity. Put simply, they can detect and
demodulate more successfully over longer distances.

However, receiver sensitivity by itself does not ensure reliable communications. ihere is also the
effect of fade margin, which represents the difference between the dBm level of the received
signal relative to the dBm level of RF background noise of the same, or similar, frequencies.
@ system with a poor fade margin, even with superior receiver sensitivity, will not perform
reliably when compared with a system of lesser receiver sensitivity but strong fade margin. ihis
is particularly relevant where environmental factors can be transient (inclement weather) and add
to the problem. Intermittent communications is a telltale sign in this situation.

So, good receiver sensitivity along with a good fade margin will have a high impact on reliable
communications distance.


Up to this point you could be forgiven for thinking that lower frequencies are the panacea. Well,
that depends on the application and the required data throughput - there are always trade-offs in
wireless physics!

While lower frequencies offer greater range, it is also the case that these frequencies are made up
of either a single narrow channel or multiple smaller channels within a band. However, higher
frequency systems have wider bands and the channels are wider.

More numerous and wider channels allow for greater modulation and potential data throughput.
Why can¶t we modulate more at lower frequencies? For each increase in modulation (and data
rate) the spread of the frequency lobe (the size and number of sidebands) increases, potentially
spilling into adjacent channels, creating potential interference.

In general, it is beneficial to know which modulation technique is being deployed as it will help
achieve a more informed choice. ihere are three types commonly used.

R  Frequency shift keying (FSK).

Digital frequency shift keying (FSK) modulates data on a given carrier waveform and is typically
the domain of lower frequencies with narrow channels. It is, therefore, limited in its data
throughput capabilities. ihe limitation of FSK can be its susceptibility to interference on that
frequency which can (not always) be a reason to use a licensed frequency.

Frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) is a scheme using narrow channels within a band,
scanning and hopping through available channels when communicating or experiencing
interference. @gain, channels are smaller in size and are typically in the range of 19.2 Kbps at
900 MHz and toward 250 Kbps for FHSS at 2.4 GHz (depending on channel size).

R  Frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS).

Direct sequence spread spectrum is a wideband modulation technique spreading the data across
much of the band using differing variants of differential phase shift keying (DPSK). ihe
concurrent spreading and even multidimensional sending of data streams (eg, multiple
in/multiple out spatial multiplexing of 802.11n) allows for data throughputs to 108 Mbps and

Overall, 802.11 devices are not able to communicate as far but offer greater data throughput than
lower frequency devices.

R  Direct sequence spread spectrum (DSSS) in 802.11.


Understandably, if repeating or wireless mesh technologies (by default repeating) are viable
options, then greater communications distances may be achieved. Repeating of wireless
communications has been available for some time but practical considerations include budgeting
(including the cost of holding redundant spares for repeater-only units), site access
considerations and associated infrastructure (such as antenna masts, power supply, etc).

ihe most common mesh architectures are those using a coordinator, a gateway or independent
coordination and feature high or low RF power. Both coordinator and gateway networks
typically feature low RF power and rely on redundant coordinators or gateways to manage
network communications. When there are obstructions or long distances involved, low RF power
will require the insertion of additional network nodes. Coupled with the addition of redundant
coordinators or gateways, this adds to the cost of network infrastructure. Independent
coordination networks, however, can be much different. Independent networks offer no single
point of failure when a coordinator or gateway fails, and they typically provide higher RF power,
promoting more reliable communication over distance.

R  Types of mesh architecture.

c 5  6   

When thinking about deploying wireless, the application and site specific questions you should
be asking are:

What are the data throughput and connectivity requirements of my application?

Do you really need 108 Mbps or is it really just a want? Perhaps you might want a mixed
system of I/O, VoIP and IP cameras - then the answer is not at lower frequencies but at
higher frequencies. What are the data communication requirements of my equipment? Is it
I/O, RS232 or RJ45? Do I need to communicate at different speeds (Modbus RiU to iCP)
or are differing protocols at play? Put simply, but for cost, if you could cable between the
two devices, would they interoperate? If so, and the data rate is low, then maybe the
functionality and simplicity of a wireless modem will suffice. If not, then a gateway style
of product may be applicable.
Over what distance and what terrain/obstacles am I looking to propagate?

Can I get site access for repeaters and do I have the budget for associated infrastructure
(such as antenna masts, possible solar panels and the like)? What other RF is onsite that
might interfere, or are there large vessels and the like in the propagation path? Clearly
lower frequencies offer greater opportunity to get around obstructions, but can your
process live with the lower data throughput? @re there sufficient data points/nodes that I
can accommodate using low RF power mesh networks? If not, do I have the budget to
accommodate this?

What are the latency requirements of the data communications for my process?

Can I engineer the process equipment to allow for the slower baud rates of a lower
frequency in relation to the distance required? Can I live with the possibility that I lose
communications for a time (such as with cellular network) or could it be that I can data
agglomerate at given intervals (in which case cellular might be viable)?

*  "     "

Now you have a list of questions that are site or application specific. @rmed with the above
information, take the vendor to task! Quiz them on their product and its specifications relative to
your application need, and make sure that their offering will suit your requirements reliably and
effectively. Don¶t accept a µone size fits all¶ approach, but see if the vendor can tailor their
offering to your real application needs.

By Brett Biondi, Elpro Technologies


20 September 2010

   &  # '  (      #   '$  $ 

6     &
    ' )& 



ihe not-so-distant future is likely to see a convergence of wireless technologies such as GPS,
Bluetooth, WiFi and voice communication for location management and operator ID tracking as
well as personal gas monitoring and other personal protective equipment (PPE) use.

Because there is no need to run wires or conduit in a wireless system, information from both
process and safety instruments used in a refinery, petrochemical plant, wastewater treatment
facility and various other manufacturing environments can now be obtained more cost
effectively. ihis is particularly advantageous for monitoring in hard-to-reach or remote area

We are on the cusp of a new era in plant operations characterized by a galaxy of sensors
obtaining and transmitting information on a multitude of changing dynamics ² e.g. temperature,
pressure, transportation, tank levels, vibration, corrosion, gas concentration levels ² over a
wireless grid. ihe transmitters will be installed using different wiring schemes, and connected to
a variety of control systems using PLCs, SC@D@ or DCS as well as stand-alone control systems.

 5  &
In this scenario, hazardous chemicals are either being used in the process or generated as by-
products of it. ihe processes may be managed by thousands of workers in both permanent and
mobile locations throughout the plant. By law, workers within the plant must carry single-gas
monitors to alert them of exposure to a poisonous gas such as hydrogen sulphide or lack of
oxygen. Some operators may alternatively need four-gas monitors if they work in confined
spaces such as tunnels, reactor vessels and other areas where a mix of explosive and toxic gases
can build up or diminish breathable oxygen levels.

In today¶s busy, noisy process environment, when a personal monitor detects a dangerous gas
level and goes into alarm, it may alert only the operator. Moreover, data logged within the
portable unit is accessible only to the plant supervisor at the end of the shift. ihis happens when
the operator returns to the instrument shack and places the portable in a docking station to
recharge the batteries, automate the data download process and test the detector with fresh
calibration gas.

In today¶s typical plant there are multiple monitoring activities working in isolation and the
overall hazard combination cannot be made readily apparent either to the plant supervisors in the
control room, or more significantly, to the technicians working in the plant. Connections between
the overall sensor inputs cannot be realized quickly enough and in many cases is not used to
capture a true picture of the overall plant and personnel hazards.


In tomorrow¶s plant we will see a greater deployment of wireless and hybrid wired /wireless
systems that share data rapidly across the plant. ihe data will be aggregated into a more
sophisticated assessment of the hazard to the plant and the operators.

ihe next generation of portable gas monitors will be able to connect wirelessly to wireless WiFi
routers located around the plant and immediately share and communicate sensor data carried by
hundreds of other operators into the plant¶s hazard visualization overview as seen in the control
room. @nother feature of this integrated mesh between mobile and fixed sensor points is that the
location of the operators will be depicted in a real-time mode at the supervisory level. In other
words, the plant safety manager will know at all times where the combined dangers are, along
with the location of all personnel.

Let¶s describe a few emergency scenarios that demonstrate how much safer the plant and
workers will be in this integrated sensor environment.


Should a plant worker in a trench suddenly be exposed to a dangerous level of hydrogen sulfide
toxic gas, that person¶s monitor will go into immediate alarm and warn the worker to get out of
the trench. ihe gas reading, alarm level, operator ID and location will be immediately flagged on
the plant SC@D@ system in the control room. Immediate action will be taken to alert the
emergency response unit, who will go to the scene and assist with recovery or first aid needs.
Moreover, other personnel in the immediate hazard area also will be alerted automatically on the
screen of their personal gas monitors (with all gas monitors connected to the intelligent plant-
wide grid). Using a combination of sensor inputs (hazard levels, wind direction and other data
regarding muster points in the vicinity), control room operators will be able to confidently direct
workers where to exit safely. ihe overall outcome is the direct result of a connected safety
philosophy ² the person in trouble is not only made aware of the danger, but also has the
appropriate support services rolling faster and more effectively. @ll operators are automatically
accounted for by location and operator ID.

ihis intelligent connection between field operators and plant infrastructure also means that
hazards not associated directly with a gas release (e.g. fire, leak, flood, smoke) can also be
flagged with evacuation instructions to the same communication portal that the personal gas
detector provides.

In addition to providing more effective hazard mitigation, real-time wireless communications

will also generate plant efficiencies and cost reductions. @s workers travel around the plant, their
monitors will log levels of gas leakage from solvents or other gases that ² while not initially
dangerous ² nevertheless are indicators of areas that need preventative maintenance. Service
teams can be deployed to the exact location to hunt down leaking valves, corroding pipes or
damaged process equipment, and they can make those repairs proactively, thereby avoiding more
expensive repairs or even catastrophic failures.


Despite the rapid spread of wireless communications for industrial processes, adoption of the
wireless format for life safety systems has been slow to gain a foothold. ihis is understandable
due to the necessarily cautious, universal regard for plant safety. @fter all, a life safety system
must be failsafe by design; and the use of wireless communications for this purpose is relatively

However, the life safety system of tomorrow will see a convergence of wireless technologies
(WiFi, GPS, and mesh wireless) forming a multi-layered, redundant system design. @lso the
industrial WiFi mesh system will be made more robust, with additional levels of security added
to prevent hacking or stray interference. ihe wireless life safety system of tomorrow will be
purpose-built to the needs of the plant, putting the plant owner in full control of the system,
along with plenty of signal strength and redundant back-ups.

It should also be pointed out that, in the unlikely event that the integrated communications
system fails during a gas release, the gas monitor will still raise the local alarm ± strobe/ buzzer/
vibration ± so the operator can take evasive action without the need to be dependent on a remote
action that may or may not be connected due to other environmental issues.

 %  (


In step with the emerging sophistication of the wireless platform, gas monitors have become
easier to use and increasingly unlikely to be misused.

ioday, many manual tasks previously conducted by workers have become automated. Gas
detector user options have been simplified, prompting the user to respond only to commands
needed for day-to-day operations. Some examples:

‡ Many critical gas detector operations are now controlled by a personal computer so workers
cannot harm themselves or their company.

‡ User interaction with the instrument has been simplified through button presses, including
single button operation, turning a complicated device into an on-off one.

‡ With multiple generations of products designed using the same interface, training time has been
minimised or eliminated, further simplifying safety.

One trend likely to gain widespread use is the visual compliance feature, or flashing LED on the
gas monitor. iaking its cues from the airline, construction and other industries where visual
technologies have become available to improve safety, users of gas detectors can now determine,
from a distance, the compliance status of portable gas detectors. Low power high intensity LEDs
(Light Emitting Diodes) constantly flash during normal operation and can be seen from up to 20
feet away in sunlight. In less than a second, safety managers and workers can determine correct
detector functionality and its compliance status.

Visual compliance technology is emerging as the simplest, most economical way to ensure that
the crew is safe, the site is compliant and the job is productive. It is likely to become a mainstay
on the wireless gas monitor of the future.

io summarise then, we are on the verge of seeing gas detectors use wireless and location based
telemetry, LED flash technology and other simplified operational features to provide a future
roadmap of a more integrated and intelligent monitoring solution. ihe goal is to exploit
additional functionality out of the essential gas detector platform to drive greater productivity
and prevent downtime at all points in a typical worker¶s shift. ihe overall impact to the business
is a smarter, safer and more cost effective working environment ² and a boost to efficiency and
bottom-line profitability.


Honeywell @nalytics, the gas monitoring instrumentation arm of Honeywell, has already proven
the viability of wireless communications in life safety, with many installations of multi-point
carbon monoxide/nitrogen dioxide gas monitoring systems in continuous operation in parking
garages, vehicular structures and other public facilities . ihis gas monitoring system uses a mesh
wireless topography with µsmart¶ gas detectors and transmitters operating in a self-organising
design. ihe network automatically adapts as devices are added or removed, obstructions are
encountered, or when one monitor loses power; this µself-healing¶ characteristic is an essential
feature of mesh wireless and constitutes a form of redundant safety.

For over 20 years, BW iechnologies by Honeywell has deployed its Rig Rat, a solar-powered
wireless mobile gas alarming device, at many oil and gas production platforms.

In addition, Honeywell has been selling industrial wireless solutions since 2002. ihrough the
company¶s OneWireless platform, hundreds of sites have optimised plant productivity and
reliability, improved safety and security, and ensured regulatory compliance.


c  c  
September 1, 2010 By: N. Venkatesh, Redpine Signals Inc., Rohan Joginpalli, Redpine Signals Inc. Sensors


   & ¦3.299:5;        

Storage facilities, especially those that maintain their contents at a controlled temperature and
humidity, require constant and reliable monitoring. iemperature-controlled storage units are
used in a variety of environments including hotels, restaurants, hospitals, pharmacies,
warehouses, and transporters. iheir monitoring mechanisms help verify acceptable temperature
and humidity conditions, reduce costs by preventing overheating or overcooling, avoid losses
due to freezer failures, improve quality standards, avoid wastage, and even provide historical
temperature reports for insurance. Monitors also help in planning operations and maintenance,
for instance, by logging the number of times that doors open or close.

In this article, we describe the design of a sensor unit for storage monitoring, with emphasis on
providing for universal connectivity through the existing networking infrastructure.

 9 shows the components of the desired system. ihe sensor unit may be powered from the
same source as the storage unit, or it may be battery powered, enabling more flexible installation
and setup. In the following sections, we discuss the general design of the sensor unit, and its
implementation using a SenSiFi wireless sensor networking module from Redpine Signals Inc.

Figure 1. The sensors at the storage unit are controlled by a sensor unit that is connected to a controller via the enterprise network

,  ,   
Sensor networks have traditionally used a variety of network protocols. Cabling costs and
difficulty in deployment, or redeployment, have resulted in the increasing adoption of wireless as
the chosen physical medium of connectivity, with IEEE 802.15.4 ZigBee and Bluetooth as
prominent examples of popular wireless protocols. However, there are significant benefits²easy
remote monitoring and control and scalability²to having sensors on an IP-based network, which
would already be present in most enterprises. One connectivity choice is the 802.11 wireless
L@N (WL@N) protocol. @part from seamlessly connecting to the enterprise network, WL@N
also stands out among other wireless standards because of its ability to scale up and cater to
increasing densities of wireless nodes. @lso, the planning of an organization-wide network²
involving decisions on frequency reuse, coverage of cells, and security settings, among others²
would have already been done, paving the way for quick and flexible installation and
commissioning of equipment and devices. @mong 802.11 WL@N variants, the emerging
802.11n standard is preferred due to its increased range and throughput and the provision of
enhanced network capacity. ihe SenSiFi module provides single-stream 802.11n connectivity,
while remaining compatible with legacy WL@N networks.
c  *  "  

ihe design of the sensor system becomes easier by using an integrated sensor module that offers
a few essential features for control and connectivity, as described below.

    ihe desired core connectivity function is provided by an
integrated 802.11n wireless section that includes a baseband processor, M@C, analog front end,
an RF transceiver and power amplifier, a frequency reference, and optionally an antenna. @
characterized and, if necessary, calibrated RF section provides uniform performance²consistent
across all nodes²and reduces the validation requirements for the completed system. Most of the
WL@N protocol tasks are carried out in software, and the burnt-in embedded firmware takes care
of the standards-compliant WL@N connectivity. ihe software handling the sensor configuration
and control, and the packaging of the data collected can therefore be developed independently.
ihe SenSiFi module ( 2) provides this facility, with users entering only the network
configuration information.

Figure 2. The SenSiFi module contains a wireless LAN section, a sensor interface section, and power management circuitry, with a low power
microcontroller providing control and configuration capability


Sensors provide raw data that need to be processed in some

way. ihey also need to be controlled and configured as required by the application; for example,
in this case, by setting the frequency of measurement or the frequency of reporting, setting the
duration of the warm-up period prior to measurement after powering on, and other parameters.
@n @tmel ultra-low-power microcontroller within the SenSiFi module has a multichannel @DC
and several peripheral interfaces to connect to a variety of sensors.

When the sensor system operates off a battery, the microcontroller is used to control the system's
power state, dropping the system into an ultra-low-power sleep mode between measurements.
ihe microcontroller is also used to process and package the sensor data for transmission over the
network. In this case, we use the SenSiFi module's embedded operating system that supports
standard networking protocols such as IPv4, IPv6, iCP, and UDP. ihe communication is two-
way; sensor data are sent out and system configuration information is sent back from a controller
elsewhere on the network.

-   ihe sensor system works off a single power source, either line power or
from a battery. Because a battery may produce variable voltages, depending upon its charge
state, the sensor module should generate the various voltage levels required by its internal
components, as well as for the sensors attached to it. In the SenSiFi module, this is provided by
an internal power management subsystem comprising voltage converters, configurable
regulators, and switches. ihe power management functions also include controlling power to
function blocks that are placed into standby or power-down modes based on the system's
operational state.

c  ¦  
ihe storage monitor application addressed here uses three sensors: temperature, humidity, and
door actions. Of these, temperature and humidity are both commonly available using a single
sensor, e.g., the Sensiron SHi-75. ihe sensor's I2C interface can be connected to the SenSiFi
module's I2C interface. ihe door opening or closing may be monitored using a contact or infrared
sensor connected to one of the digital general-purpose I/O (GPIO) lines of the module. ihis
signal is also used as an interrupt to the microcontroller, bringing it out of its sleep state to raise
an alarm or to record the activity to provide a history of door opening and closing events, and
related duration information.

ihe microcontroller's main tasks are to control the sensors and process their data. @ state
machine in the application program running on the microcontroller triggers the temperature and
humidity sensor and then collects the sensor data. It also responds to changes in state
experienced by the door sensor.

ihe data are put in a format that can be decoded by the software application executed on the
controller or server. ihis is a proprietary format and contains details such as the type of data
being transmitted, the length of the data, the raw sensor data, an optional checksum, and a packet
sequence number. ihis is then encapsulated with an IP header using the uIP stack residing in the
SenSiFi module's microcontroller. ihe uIP stack works in both IPv6 and IPv4 networks.

ihe Ethernet IP packet thus formed is passed to the WL@N stack which then forms a WL@N
packet and transmits the packet over the air where it is routed to the server by the @ccess Point
(@P)/router that converts it back into an Ethernet packet. ihe server decodes the data and
displays the sensor information ( 0). @ custom server application gathers the sensor data
and presents it as needed, e.g., as a graph of temperature over time, as illustrated in  <.
Figure 3. Packet flow from sensor to server

Figure 4. A plot of temperature over time created in a sample server application


In the IP layer, the user may choose between two protocols: iransmission Control Protocol
(iCP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP). ihe choice between these two protocols is governed
by the following factors:

a.? importance of data integrity and order

b.? power consumption (battery life)

iCP is a flow-control-based protocol that ensures that the data transmitted by a source is
received at the destination without fail, unless the connection is terminated. ihe flow-control
mechanism also ensures that data are received in the correct order by using multiple packet
exchanges (data and acknowledgement) between the source and destination. ihis, therefore,
would be the ideal method for a sensor network that needs to ensure that all sensor data are
received, analyzed, and acted on without fail. However, this also results in the module being in
"ON" mode for a longer time, thus resulting in higher energy consumption per transmission
cycle. Because the RF transceiver is the most power-hungry component of a wireless system,
even a small increase in the time that the transceiver is kept "ON" significantly affects the overall
lifetime. ihe challenge in improving the battery life of nodes in such networks, therefore, lies in
optimal and intelligent control of the RF transceiver and other hardware components so as to
minimize 'ON' time while assuring the required data transfer performance.

UDP, on the other hand, does not use retry mechanisms that ensure that the data are received by
the destination and so does not put too great a load on the network. For this reason, UDP is
usually used to transfer streaming data that require low latency and high throughput and is also
used for purposes where the intermittent loss of data does not affect the end goal of the
application. ihe power consumption in such a network would be much lower for each
transmission cycle. Of course, iCP can be used to achieve the same battery lifetime possible
with UDP by altering the frequency at which sensor data are transmitted, since the longer the
time that the module is idle, the longer the battery lifetime.

,     c
ihe module configuration and setup includes configuring parameters related to WL@N, wakeup
intervals, destination IP addresses, transmission rate, and power level.  1 illustrates the
configuration utility GUI for the SenSiFi module's evaluation kit.
Figure 5. The SenSiFi Module's software package includes a configuration GUI through which
WLAN parameters as well as sensor parameters are set

ihe storage monitoring application described here would use the parameters shown in  4
during its configuration.


Interface The PC's COM port used

IP Version IPv4 (and may be IPv6 based on support in the network infrastructure)

Protocol Type UDP

Source IP Address With the use of DHCP, no specific IP address need be provided

The IP address of the controller/Web Server to which the module transmits the
Destination IP Address

SSID SSID of the wireless access point to which the module will connect

Security The type of WLAN security used by the designated Access Point

Pre-shared Key The security key that is used for connecting to the AP

An optional WLAN channel number to restrict the module to operating in a

particular channel, matching the AP's channel of operation

The data rate that the module uses to transmit the packets on air. The choice of
rate largely depends on the distance between the sensor and the AP, and may
Transmission Rate
be left as 'Automatic' if conditions are expected to vary. The higher the data
rate, the lower the overall energy consumed during operation

This is a choice of high, medium, or low power. By default, this is set to high
Transmission Power power and would be the appropriate choice for our storage monitoring

Tag Name A suitable name for the sensor node

The time in seconds between successive sensor data transmissions; a value

Sampling Interval
between 10 s and 30 s would be suitable for this application

If the sensor unit is running off a battery, the life of the battery can be extended by various
methods. ihe most important from a designer's perspective would be to devise an intelligent way
to switch the various components on and off. ihe SenSiFi system achieves a battery life of 3
years working in IPv6 (UDP) mode while transmitting data from a temperature sensor every 2
minutes. ihe sample application code that achieves this minimizes power consumption at
various levels by:
1.? Switching off the WLAN subsystem when not required
2.? Dynamically changing the power modes of the Atmel microcontroller during the time that it is
3.? Scheduling events in parallel to reduce the time that it is in active mode. This technique is used
both in the microcontroller code as well as in the firmware of the module
4.? Working at different clock frequencies at different stages to ensure that an optimal balance is
achieved between power and active time.

@ typical current vs. time graph appears in  / for a sensor node during its active period.
During the idle period between transfers, the consumption of power is so low that it does not
appear in the graph.

Figure 7. The sensor unit's power profile shown as a graph of current vs. time


In this design, we have implemented a sensor unit to monitor the temperature and humidity
conditions of a cold storage unit, as well as to log the storage unit access events. We have chosen
appropriate physical sensors and interfaced them to the SenSiFi sensor networking module. @ll
the operational configuration information is programmed into the module. In this case, with no
special requirement on data conditioning, no additional software is required to be written into the
integrated microcontroller. ihe required data are made available over an existing WL@N
network to be collected and analyzed by a controller or server at a local or remote location,
fulfilling the needs of a universally connected, versatile, and effective storage monitoring
If you're a machine builder or a system integrator, no one has to sell you on the benefits of
remote diagnostics. What used to be a value-added feature is becoming a requirement from your
customers and a competitive necessity for your company.

ihere are three main ways to perform remote diagnostics. ihe first is with a PC-based control
system, the second is with a PLC-based control system, and the third is with an interface
component such as an embedded computer.

No matter the approach, the benefits to the machine OEM include reduction in travel, faster
response to problems and more-efficient use of technical personnel. OEM customers will see
reduced downtime, reduced requirements for internal technical personnel and more efficient
machine and robot operation.

ihe PC-based approach was implemented by Control Logic, a Hickory, North Carolina, machine
builder. Control Logic made systems for lumber ripping, grading and tracking²and has been
succeeded by @iken Development, also in Hickory.

Control Logic upgraded its controls from a PC-based operator interface and a PLC controller to a
PC-based system from Beckhoff @utomation. ihe new system provides all required functionality
including control, operator interface and diagnostics.

"Using a single PC platform allowed us to remove extraneous interface layers used in the
previous system design and also reduced costs and space requirements," says former Control
Logic President Chris @iken.

ihe main drawback of this approach to remote diagnostics is that it means replacing the entire
existing automation system with a PC-based solution.

For industrial OEMs that want to stick with a PLC, an alternative is to couple a low-cost PLC
with an inexpensive operator interface terminal. ihis was the approach taken by Pratt Industries,
a manufacturer of paper and corrugated products.

Pratt needed a control and data-collection system for its material recovery recycling plant in
Shreveport, Louisiana. Pratt selected an @utomationDirect PLC communicating via Ethernet
with touchscreen display panels in the pre-sort, post-sort, baler and main operator console areas.

"ihe FiP transfer function from the HMI provides the ability to continually monitor production
data, plant statistics and equipment fault conditions over the Web," explains Greg Philbrook,
HMI/communications product manager at @utomationDirect (
"Fault screens monitor the status, and management can view them securely over the Web on a
24/7 basis."
ihe main advantage of this approach is that PLC technology familiar to many builders and
integrators can be combined with a low-cost operator terminal. Because this operator interface is
a Web server, it can be accessed by any browser.

ihe main disadvantage to this approach is that it can force the machine builder to change its
controller, its operator interface or both.

ihe third approach lets machine builders keep their existing control systems. @ low-cost
embedded computer is added that connects to the existing control system, providing a wide range
of remote connection options.

ihis approach was selected by @BB Remote Monitoring for its robotics division. @BB uses an
@dvantech embedded automation computer to monitor diagnostic information from the robot

"If there's a robot failure, the diagnostic data is uploaded through the embedded computer and
sent to @BB wirelessly via a cellular modem or the Internet," relates John Wilhite, embedded
automation computers product manager at @dvantech (

During a robot alarm or error event, a complete backup of the robot programs and diagnostic
logs are posted to the password-protected @BB website. @ series of alerts are sent to @BB
technical support specialists.

By examining the fault logs, @BB can establish the root cause, recommend proper corrective
actions and provide technical assistance until the problem is fixed. ihe customer receives a root
cause analysis so that corrective and preventive actions can be implemented.
Sensors always have been adjustable to one degree or another. But lately, they're becoming more
programmable and flexible²just like every other device with processor-based data handling.
Dip switches, potentiometers and text-based computer code are being replaced by software
function blocks, point-and-click programming and the ability to save and propagate software
profiles among different sensors.

"ien years ago, the cost of embedding intelligence on a sensor was more I/O, but now you can
pack a lot of intelligence onto a sensor's chip and have that one chip handle signal processing,
bus communications and memory," says Matt Simms, Eaton's ( product line
manager for sensors.

ihe good news doesn't end there. Sensors that used to be networked via dedicated wiring to
discrete I/O points and proprietary fieldbuses are freeing themselves from these often costly
hardware and communication constraints. In fact, several sensor manufacturers recently
developed the open, point-to-point IO-Link communication protocol and formed the IO-Link
Consortium ( to define non-competitive sensor intelligence that doesn't have to
be on a proprietary fieldbus.

"ihese days, sensor programmability really means giving users the ability to set switch points
via software rather than push buttons, and this allows them to better optimize their sensors for
their own specific applications," says Gary Frigyes, Pepperl+Fuchs' ( marketing manager for photoelectric sensors. "IO-Link takes a standard, three-wire
sensor and makes its communications generic, so it doesn't need a custom chip or module. ihis
allows intelligent sensors to read their diagnostic data back and lets users set switch limits,
modes of operation, sensing ranges and other capabilities. ihis enables them to work their
sensors into their traditional, normal control systems with 4-20 m@ networking and dc inputs."
IO-Link also lets users store reference marks, recipes and other parameters and then retrieve
them as needed, such as when a sensor is damaged.

io gain the kinds of sensor intelligence that IO-Link can provide, Frigyes explains that users
previously had to use @SIC and dedicated data-processing chips. "Fieldbuses can process digital
data, but they don't have true electrical outputs," says Frigyes.

Henry Menke, Balluff's ( marketing manager for object detection sensors, says
sensors have been teachable for many years and able to exchange data via serial, USB or other
network interfaces, but true programmability is a bi-direction phenomenon that involves sending
data to a sensor that can read and analyze it and send back an appropriate response. "With bi-
directionality, the user always gets back data that shows the sensor is tracking to the right value,"
says Menke. "Programmable sensors deliver constant feedback. Previously, users had to double-
check these settings manually to make sure they hadn't changed. In addition, because large
manufacturers are pushing for more traceability, all this feedback is useful because it helps them
track and collect a lot more of the I/O points they need to trace their processes."
Likewise, Eric Henefield, Rockwell @utomation's ( marketing
manager for photoelectric sensors, adds that today's programmable sensors permit automatic
teaching from a distance or can even accept reprogramming every few hours. "@ lot of our
customers are asked to customize machines even more to the needs of individual users, and
programmable sensors are adapting to help serve those applications," says Henefield. "For
instance, users want to know if a machine is going to go down before it actually does, or they
want a multitasking machine that can handle more diverse tasks, and sensors with more setups,
parameters and diagnostics can help accomplish these goals."


Control Design survey its readers to gather market intelligence about a variety of subjects that are of
interest to controls engineers, machine builders and machine designers. Here are the video reports.

ihe next steps probably will involve even more configuration on the fly, which already is seen in
some color and vision sensors, believes Simms. "In the future, I think we'll see three or four
machines set up to adapt and reconfigure themselves and then switch off production tasks," he
adds. "ihe overall goal is still throughput."
c-  )= *  "
New products from TI, Freescale, AOI push performance limits

> )c   
 55 *)   9)2..?

Whether for data or voice, digital signal processors (DSPs) are gaining popularity in wired and
wireless network applications. iheir number-crunching capabilities make DSPs a clear choice
over general-purpose microcontrollers in situations that are more computationally intensive.

³It's true that some compute-intensive applications can be performed on a microcontroller or a

microprocessor,´ says Scott @ylor, director of DSP product management for Freescale
Semiconductor. ³But microcontroller architectures are built to be fairly general-purpose. io do
the same thing as a DSP, you would have to run that (microcontroller) significantly faster or
have a higher number of cores.´

ihese days, DSP makers are emphasizing their speed advantages by adding more cores, as well
as hardware accelerators that boost performance to even greater levels. Freescale, for example,
recently rolled out a six-core DSP with hardware accelerators aimed at wireless data networks.

Wireless data applications; however, are only the beginning. ioday's DSPs are carving out a
niche in a wide variety of number-crunching applications, ranging from VoIP telephony and
conferencing phones to oscilloscopes and portable electrocardiographs.

Here, we've gathered three of the latest DSP products from @nalog Devices, Freescale and iexas

¦ 5- 


@nalog Devices' Blackfin BF51x series is aimed at reducing cost, power and software
complexity. ihe family includes the BF512, BF514, BF516 and BF518. @ll are single-core
convergent processors that are said to ³surpass microcontroller+DSP approaches in reducing part
count, system cost, board space and power consumption.´ @ll four of the new 16/32 bit BF51x
processors are available in clock speeds up to 400 MHz and include 116 kbytes of R@M plus an
optional 4 Mbits of serial Flash memory. @DI says the parts are targeted at industrial
applications and instrumentation, portable medical diagnostics and VoIP telephony.

¦c-, & %5 


iexas Instruments' iMS320C6743 DSP combines fixed- and floating-point performance for
connected, low-cost applications that need low power. Introduced in @pril, the new device is said
to be the lowest-cost, lowest-power DSP to offer Ethernet connectivity. It draws 60 mW in
standby mode and 490 mW at 300 MHz. In standby, it is said to offer days of battery life. Cost is
$7.85 in quantities of 1,000 or more. ihe new device is aimed at test and measurement systems,
oscilloscopes, electrocardiography, conferencing phones, programmable automation, power
protection systems and audio foot pedals.

c%5, c-

Freescale Semiconductor's MSC8156, a six-core DSP based on Freescale's SC3850 StarCore

technology, is designed to advance the capabilities of wireless broadband equipment, especially
wireless data applications. ³People are accustomed to having wireless data access in their home
or office, and they want to know, 'Why can't I have it on the road or at a customer site?'´ says
Scott @ylor of Freescale. ihe company's new product offers a step in that direction. Built on 45-
nm process technology in a highly integrated system-on-chip, it provides performance equivalent
to that of a 6-GHz, single-core device. It enables near-team adoption of next-generation wireless
standards such as 3G-LiE, WiM@ , HSP@+ and iDD-LiE.