Wireless Instruments and Instrumentation

This Instrument Engineering page provides many links to Wireless Instrumentation relevant subjects. It includes Free Technical Information for Instrument Engineers and Technicians.

Go to Specific Subject: Wireless Instrument System Design | Benefits of Industrial Wireless Instruments | Wireless Communication Reliability | Wireless Instruments for Control | Wireless Ethernet | WirelessHART | Wireless Interference Issues | Wireless Instruments and Asset Management | Wireless Instrument Security | Wireless Instrumentation Standards | Wireless Sensor Network Implementation | Wireless Instrument Applications | Industrial Wireless Resources | Wireless Instrumentation Technical Videos | General Wireless Technical Information | Radio Frequency Identification |


Wireless Instrument System Design

Wireless Plant: Complete Coverage - Becoming an important part of a company’s infrastructure both outside and inside a plant environment. The wireless infrastructure can be used for both network and process data communication, however coexistence must be considered early in the design of plant-wide wireless systems. This article details a mesh network infrastructure complete with I/O, gateways and IS equipment capabilities - from MTL.

Wireless Technology Guide - Wireless Communication is used by all of us on a regular manner: Cellphones, WLAN and DECT telephones are all around and widely accepted in consumer applications. As these technologies have improved, they have started to make their way into industrial applications. But the requirements and boundary conditions in the industrial world are different from the consumer world. Industrial applications require higher quality products and more important an increase in technical support. To set up a wireless system which fullfills its duty in the required quality, some knowledge of the following topics are required:

  • physical basics of wireless communication
  • antennas
  • modern wireless technologies
  • available standards, their properties, advantages and disadvantages
  • requirements in industrial applications.

If some of these topics are unknown, setting up a wireless system can be difficult and debugging a non working wireless system is based on luck and not on know-how. Therfore, it can be very valuable to understand some basic principles rather than skill or knowledge. This short introduction describes some information which might be useful when setting up and debugging a wirelessm system in an industrial application - from Pepperl + Fuchs.

Integrating a Network of Wireless Sensors with Standard Control Systems - Nowadays, wireless sensors are a viable solution for a broad spectrum of projects. The first and main advantage of using wireless sensors is substantial savings in installation costs of cables. Consider a simple warehouse environmental monitoring system where multiple temperature and relative humidity points are monitored. Using wireless nodes that include both types of sensors there is no need to install cables in roofs, ducts or ceilings - from Process Online.

Overcoming Barriers to Wireless Adoption - Is wireless better or worse than a wired network? The answer is no; it’s different. A plethora of wireless technologies exist to suit a variety of users. Is it for every application? No. But for many, wireless can be more flexible, versatile and cost effective than wired networks. Yet, questions regarding security, reliability and capacity of wireless continue to prevent conservative end users from reaping its benefits. Can these be overcome? - from ProSoft.

Antenna & Feedline Selection - This white paper gives the reader an understanding of issues affecting the selection of antennas and feedline. It describes the complete signal path from transmitter to receiver and includes hardware specifications, required calculations and path-loss issues. Through an improved understanding of the subject, the reader will more effectively and confidently be able to design, install and maintain a reliable wireless communication system - from Control Microsystems.

Antenna Installation Considerations - Ken Burgner - This white paper outlines installation considerations when installing a WLAN antenna including Fresnal zones, LOS, Reflections, Multipath etc - from L-Com.

Circles of Success - A Brief Tutorial - Randy Klassen - With spread spectrum radios moving into the industrial workplace and out among the pipes and tanks, making the decision to install, specify or manufacture a wireless product is one that cannot be made lightly. No one likes to be embarrassed by product that doesn't work, and in the wireless arena where more and more products are now popping up new rules and guidelines have to be established to ease the decision-making process. This tutorial will focus on a few of the rules that will help HopLink distributors and end-users make decisions about specifying and installing wireless products successfully. It is designed to give you a simple tool for evaluating a HopLink installation's probability for success in terms of: a) where the HopLink will operate reliably, b) how much support you will have to give the product, and c) how to build trust in the eyes of your customer or manager by not "overselling" the HopLink's capabilities and achieving a quick and reliable installation - from OMNEX Control Systems Inc and Cooper Industries.

Frequency Hopping and Unwanted Intruders - Randy Klassen & Åke Severinson - All types of data transfer offer the opportunity for both data interception and injection. In wired systems, it usually takes some direct physical connection to gain access, with tampering being possible anywhere along the transmission wires. Radio systems, on the other hand, take the potential for data interception or injection out of the realm of actual physical contact and force tampering to occur in the radio frequency (RF) realm. Further to this, various radio systems and technologies set up different types of "road blocks" that must be overcome by the wireless intruder - from OMNEX Control Systems Inc and Cooper Industries.

Spread Spectrum - A Brief Tutorial - Randy Klassen - Spread Spectrum is a phrase that's being heard more and more in the sensor marketplace, the industrial process and control world, and in telemetry Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA). Those who investigate Spread Spectrum radios quickly discover that they are license free and moderately powered. Beyond that, little seems to be known - from OMNEX Control Systems Inc and Cooper Industries.

Radio in Industrial Environments - Part 1 and Part 2 - Brian Cunningham - With increasing demands placed on plant managers to reduce operating costs, wireless is presenting attractive alternatives to buried cable and conduit runs. The issue at stake in choosing this alternative is reliability. In industry, the requirements for radio differ from those typically governing commercial or residential applications. With cellular phones, for instance, the design requirement is best effort in terms of coverage and reliability. With industrial applications, the design requirement becomes must work 100%. Typical industrial applications include extracting tank levels in storage facilities, controlling pump stations in municipalities, and in general replacing cable and conduit where the cost of materials and associated installation exceed the cost of a radio system. However the question remains when replacing a tried and true cable and conduit system with a new technology: will it be as reliable? - from ISA.

Introduction to Wireless Technology - This video explains how understanding technology capabilities and application requirements is important when selecting a wireless technology for your application. You need to consider three key factors when evaluating wireless technologies: bandwidth, range, and power requirements. It provides an introduction to Wi-Fi technology based on IEEE 802.11 and IEEE 802.15.4. Learn the core technology capabilities between these wireless technologies to help select the right wireless technology for your application - from National Instruments.

Selecting the Right Wireless Technology - Understanding technology capabilities and application requirements is important when selecting a wireless technology for your application. The reasons to choose wireless include reduced installation costs, installation and deployment flexibility, and the ability to address new applications. Before selecting wireless, you first need to ensure the bandwidth available with wireless meets your application requirements - from National Instruments.

What a Mesh! Part 1 - The Ins and Outs Of Mesh Networking - Joel K. Young - The first part of this two-part article discusses the basics: what do you need to know about wireless mesh networking and what criteria you should use when assessing a mesh networking technology.

What a Mesh! Part 2 - Networking Architectures and Protocols - Joel K. Young - In the second part of this two-part article we tackle network architectures and compare and contrast point-to-multipoint, ZigBee PRO (ZigBee 2007), 6LoWPAN, Wireless HART, and Digi Mesh networking protocols, laying out their key characteristics, benefits, and limitations.
Both parts thanks to sensorsmag.com and Digi International.

Industrial Wireless Mesh Network Architectures - Peter McNeil - This white paper describes some differences between traditional enterprise networks and industrial networks and provides examples of some of the more popular wireless industrial networking technologies being deployed today - from L-Com.

Making a Smart Wireless Decision - Wireless networks have become an essential part of communication in the last century. From the internet to mobile phones, this invisible technology is now one of the world's favourite buzz words. While consumers and commercial users tend to take immediate advantage of wireless technologies as they become available, industrial users have historically been a bit more cautious. This caution is generally due to concerns related to critical infrastructure security and reliability. However, if the right wireless solution is chosen, early adoptors of industrial wireless technology can have the best of both worlds - security and reliability while leveraging the efficiency and benefits of wireless technology - from Honeywell Process Solutions and PACE.

Radio Theory De-Mystified - Brian Cunningham - With increasing demands placed on plant managers to reduce operating costs, wireless is presenting attractive alternatives to buried cable and conduit runs. The issue at stake in choosing this alternative is reliability, and trust must be established before users will confidently invest in this technology. This paper discusses the different types of radio that are currently in use with a focus on spread spectrum in process control applications. An explanation of how a radio works is followed by a discussion of fixed frequency, direct sequence spread spectrum, frequency hopping spread spectrum and orthogonal frequency division multiplexing technology. Emerging radio standards are reviewed and there is a section on how to interpret specifications and how they differentiate one radio's performance from another. Classes of criticality for wireless applications will be studied. Range determinations, interference mitigation and multipath are addressed, along with issues surrounding the multitude of frequencies in use and the advantages and disadvantages of each - from Cooper Industries.

Wireless Reliability in Industrial Automation - Two key considerations wireless technology and hardware device contribute to building mobile and wireless solutions that transform operations - From Scott Thie and Jeff White and ISA/InTech.

Strategic Implementation of Wireless Technologies - The 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 IT professionals are presented with an opportunity to deliver a major, positive impact to their respective company’s bottom line - from FreeWave.

Wireless Tutorial - If you are new to wireless, then this practical tutorial will provide insight into how it can work within your application. The tutorial also provides technical information behind wireless technology - from Phoenix Contact.

Antennas - A Brief Tutorial - Antennas are simply lengths of conductive metal that radiate radio signals into the air. Most common antennas are designed to be one-quarter, sometimes one-half, the wavelength of the radio signal they are to transmit/receive. Wavelength is calculated with the formula: Wavelength (meters) = 300/frequency (MHz). For example, Phoenix Contact wireless modules use frequencies ranging from 902-928MHz, so based on this formula, the wavelength of our radio signals are approximately one-third of a meter, or one-foot. Keeping in mind then that antennas are generally one-quarter wavelength of the radio signal, our basicantennas for the 900MHz are typically no more than 3 inches in height - from Phoenix Contact.

Wi-Fi … Why Now? Exploring New Wireless Technologies for Industrial Applications - Patrick McCurdy and Ira Sharp - This paper focuses on the industrial use of public standard IEEE 802.11 technology while providing a broad comparison of different spread spectrum wireless technologies currently deployed in industrial automation applications - from Phoenix Contact.

Radio Waves - InTech Article - Davis Mathews - Users can go wireless today especially if they need to securely move small amounts of sensor and control information, and at times, mission critical data. This can all happen through spread-spectrum radio—especially in wide-open oil fields and municipal water facilities - from Phoenix Contact.

This Concise Question and Answer Article covers Wireless Advantages, Pitfalls, Best Practices, Wireless Terms, Security, Future, Comparison with Hard Wired Systems, Frequency and Operating Range - from Geof Brazier and BSB Wireless.

Industrial Wireless Networking - In this Industrial Wireless Networking webinar you'll learn all about the latest Wireless technologies in use for Industrial Wireless applications including IEEE 802.11 (Wireless Ethernet) , Bluetooth, and other wireless technologies.

Network, Organize Thyself - Industrial Environments could Benefit from Reliability of Self-organizing Wireless Networks - Gabe Sierra, Dan Carlson, Bob Karschnia, and Brandon Robinson - When process personnel hear the term wireless instruments, they immediately think, great, no wires. But how do you know if you are receiving good data on time, every time? To go a step further, what are the limitations of self-organizing wireless network reliability, and where should you apply it in a dynamic industrial environment? Can wireless field devices ever be reliable enough for today's complicated industrial environments - from ISA and InTech.

Using Operator Interfaces to Optimize Performance of Industrial Wireless Networks - The performance of wireless networks can change over time due to increased performance demands, changes in the radio frequency (RF) environment and changes in the physical environment. This article explores the use of a wireless diagnostic OLE for Process Control (OPC) server technology to embed diagnostic information in human machine interfaces (HMIs), thus optimizing industrial wireless network performance - ProSoft Technology, Inc.

The Following are from Emerson Process Management:

IEC 62591 WirelessHART® System Engineering Guide - This updated excellent 83 page document has been created to support the developing needs of WirelessHART end users adopting self-organizing mesh networks within the process industry. It recognises that WirelessHART products are available from the HART COMMUNICATIONS FOUNDATION and many of its members, and thus is written in a ‘generic’ fashion which does not incorporate any ‘value added’ features available from any specific vendor. It is assumed that the reader is proficient with HART instrumentation, therefore the focus of this content will be on the unique aspects of deploying WirelessHart systems. Unless stated otherwise, the reader should assume the project steps are the same for HART and WirelessHART instrumentation. The document is intended to serve as the basis for advanced discussions on the implementation of WirelessHART systems.

The Virtual Wireless Plant Tour - This highlights areas of Emerson's Virtual Wireless Plant Tour - a web-based, interactive tool that shows how wireless technologies can solve operational challenges today.

Smart Wireless Solutions for Field Network Applications - This comprehensive brochure highlights the depth of Emerson's expertise and breadth of offering for wireless solutions in the field. It's full of use cases and actual applications where Smart Wireless has delivered customer value.

Smart Wireless Solutions for Plant Operations - This comprehensive brochure highlights Emerson's Smart Wireless capabilities for plant-wide applications including Control Network bridging, Field Data Backhaul, Safety Mustering, Video Monitoring, and more.

Smart Wireless Solutions - Intelligent Well Production Starts Here - The wellheads, flow lines, and separation areas in these fields have typically used wired approaches which involve significant commissioning time, and lengthy installation of wiring, trenching, conduit runs, and cable trays; or proprietary wireless networks which suffer from reliability issues. Emerson’s Smart Wireless technology overcomes these issues.

Smart Wireless Field Network - Recommendations for Planning, Installation and Commissioning - A Smart Wireless Field Network from Emerson Process Management is easy to plan, install, and commission. Included in this paper are recommendations for ensuring proper network performance without the need for site surveys as required for point-to-point wireless technologies.

Emerson Wireless Security - WirelessHART and Wi-Fi - This comprehensive paper demonstrates capabilities to deploy secure, reliable and robust wireless solutions for both field instruments and plant-wide applications.

WirelessHART - Simple, Reliable, Secure - This brochure explains how WirelessHART is the first Simple, Reliable and Secure wireless standard for process monitoring and control.

Wireless Now - Think Beyond the Wire' (Issue #1) - A 16-page supplement discusses how to apply wireless - includes customer applications and easy-to-understand benefits.

Wireless Now - How Wireless Speeds Innovation at BP' (Issue #2) - This 16-page supplement explains how Emerson Smart Wireless is enabling BP to speed innovation, as well as practical information on how to get started.

Wireless Now - Who Says You Can't Take It With You?' (Issue #3) - This supplement explains how Emerson Smart Wireless solution for Plant-wide operations can unleash a new era of worker productivity. It also contains articles on wireless in capital projects, and proven wireless applications from multiple industries.

Wireless Now - Wireless Comes of Age' (Issue #4) - This brochure explains how wireless has come of age - taken mainstream and ready for control applications. Includes articles on the impact of wireless on work practices and capital projects.

Putting Wireless to Work in Process Operations - Wireless technologies offer process operations new opportunities for improvement. With a wireless strategy and architecture that align with your business needs, you can begin gaining the benefits today while facilitating additional applications in the future.

Switching to Wireless - Now you can detect level without incurring the cost and complexity of laying cables, says Jonas Berge - A level switch can be used in applications with liquids and slurries, including coating and aerated liquids. Sensing is virtually unaffected by flow, turbulence, bubbles, foam, vibration, solid particles, build-up, or fluid properties. Applications include high and low level detection in liquid tanks as a backup to a continuous level transmitter, activating a pump based on level, and starting or stopping a mixer based on level around the blades. Now, new developments in wireless communications are enabling an easy and cost-effective solution for level monitoring without laying cable or associated risk of damaging the existing installation, and enable configuration and troubleshooting from a central location.

Deploying Industrial Wireless Solutions - Wireless technology has not been widely adopted for in-plant applications. Concerns about reliability, security, and battery life of wireless devices have slowed adoption of wireless options even where traditional wired solutions were cost-prohibitive or operationally difficult. That's changing as improvements in wireless technology address these concerns.

Self-Organizing Networks: Wireless Topologies for In-Plant Applications -The topography of a wireless network is simply the way network components are arranged. It describes the physical layout of devices, routers, and gateways, as well as the data flow paths between them. Three of the most common wireless topologies for in-plant applications are star, mesh, and cluster-tree. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each, you can determine which topology is best for your specific application.

WirelessHART Extends Your Reach: The Easy Way to add New Instrumentation - Douglas Carlson - A discussion on the benefits and considerations of deploying WirelessHART device networks and advice on how to minimise growing pains when installing new field sensors and actuators. Any plant expansion will generally require an increase in I/O count. This seems straightforward enough, but in practice it soon runs into limitations. I/O cabinets have finite capacity, for one thing, and I/O is expensive. This leaves the plant engineer with several choices - continue to add I/O points to the existing system until all the spares have been used up, add additional I/O cabinets, or increase capacity by adding WirelessHART capability. This article shows that the third alternative can be the fastest and most economical approach to increasing plant I/O counts. Wireless I/O systems have two major advantages over wired I/O: They save money and they save time. But choosing one will require answering some questions - from the excellent Control Engineering Europe.


Benefits of Industrial Wireless Instruments

Changing Role of Wireless - Ray Rogowski - When industrial wireless technology emerged on the scene a few years ago, manufacturers typically fell into one of three camps: early adopters who wasted no time immersing themselves in the new networks, users who wanted to wait until the technologies matured, and others who wanted nothing to do with the advancements. Fast forward to today, and both the role of wireless within plants, and the alignment of those respective camps have shifted dramatically. For starters, wireless is no longer “new”. It’s here, and it’s established - and the question isn’t “if” but, rather, “how” day-to-day operations will be impacted - from Honeywell and Automation.com.

Wireless a No-Brainer - David Savells and Brent McAdams - Advantages of wireless I/O go far beyond the cost of wiring: Economies of scale, fail safe, flexibility, reliability, diagnostics and low power consumption - Historically, regardless of the industry, hardwiring has been the only option available for users to connect remote instrumentation assets in the field. However, new technology enabling greater use of spread spectrum radios gives companies the ability to connect remote instrumentation in the field without the need for a costly, wired infrastructure - Thanks to ISA/InTech.

Users want Happy Union with Wireless, but Doubts Linger - Patrick Schweitzer - When it comes to wireless technology, the user community wants simplicity, robustness, education to understand this new world, and coexistence among all players to make this the wireless world of our dreams. Yet as wireless picks up momentum in the industrial marketplace, users are still confounded by the potentials and pitfalls a wireless world can bring -Thanks to ISA/InTech.

The following links are from Emerson Process Management:

Wireless Widens the View - Jonas Berge - A wider window into the plant is now possible as previously "difficult to access" field data becomes easier to collect and transmit with the latest wireless technology. The practical and economical barriers to collecting more information from the plant floor and surrounding areas have been dramatically lowered by the emergence of reliable wireless field communications systems. The technology of transmitting information from stand-alone instruments can be put to use today, even in plants with legacy control systems. Information that was previously difficult or impossible to access in the past is now easily collected and transmitted from wireless devices to the plant control system.

Wireless Technology & Best Practices to Reduce Project Costs - Mark Menezes - Benefits of wireless seem obvious - “no wires”. Despite this, fewer than 1% of installed measurements in process plants and mills are wireless. Fortunately, real and perceived obstacles to wireless deployment are being overcome with improved technology, most recently the “self organising network”. Other obstacles are not based on technology, but on the lack of security, standards, and consensus on appropriate applications, so are best addressed with a discussion around “best practices”. Users can now consider adding measurements previously impossible to cost-justify, improving safety, reliability, efficiency and environmental compliance.

Asset Management Leverages Smart Wireless Devices - Laura Briggs/Joseph Citrano III - Smart Wireless Devices generate diagnostics that extend the value of asset management systems.

Wireless Networking in Plant -Dick Caro - The advantages of a mesh network are redundancy, increased total distance, and removal of the line-of-sight restriction. The reduced cost of Ethernet-based networks is driving this fast, low-level, and low-cost technology to the field and shop floor. Another Ethernet side effect is the application of wireless technology in the Wi-Fi group of wireless protocols. Wi-Fi is essentially wireless Ethernet. Any higher-level application layer and user layer can communicate via Wi-Fi at data rates up to 600 Mbps, without knowledge of the fact that it is on a radio link. From the ISA and InTech.


Wireless Communication Reliability

Reliability of Wireless Communication - The general perception that wireless communication is easily disconnected seems to be attributed to our daily experience with mobile phones and wireless LANs. The rapid progress of mobile phone technology meant that the latest digital wireless communication technology could be used to solve the very tough challenge of ensuring that high-speed data transmission rates and reliability are maintained while users are walking or moving at high speed in cars and trains. However, the facts that a user moves at a certain speed and that the location of use is not fixed impose difficult conditions on wireless communication for which the radio wave environment changes dynamically, resulting in the instability typical of wireless communication. Meanwhile, in many industrial measurement applications, the measurement location is considered and then fixed at the point of installation, and even if the user moves, the movement speed is very moderate and the movement range is also limited, and the required data transfer rate is also relatively low, so the environment is such that reliability can be easily maintained for wireless communication. In other words, it is possible to set conditions to ensure sufficient stability for wireless communication beforehand. By introducing the latest digital wireless technology in such a relatively privileged environment, reliability comparable with wired communication can be ensured.


Wireless Instruments for Control

Users fear Wireless Networks for Control - Following is an item-by-item rebuttal of plant engineer’s vow: “Critical data will never transmit over a wireless link in my plant”. Fear and loathing on the technology trail - An excellent article From Dick Caro and the ISA/InTech.


Wireless Ethernet

Optimizing a Wireless Ethernet Radio Network - When deciding which wireless Ethernet radios to buy, it’s tempting to focus on a few key specifications - such as operating distance or data-throughput rate - provided on the product datasheets. However, several factors contribute to overall network performance for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) - and some of those factors work against one another. The following discussion helps separate perception from reality, detailing the difference between specified over-the-air speeds and actual data throughput in a SCADA application. Suggested steps for optimizing wireless Ethernet radio networks are also presented, along with several real-world examples. Note: This paper assumes the reader has basic knowledge of radio networks - from Schneider Electric.



The following technical information is from the HART Communication Foundation:

Wireless HART Overview - As the need for additional process measurements increases, users seek a simple, reliable, secure and cost-effective method to deliver new measurement values to control systems without the need to run more wires. With process improvements, plant expansions, regulatory requirements and safety levels demands for additional measurements, users are looking to wireless technology for that solution.

Wireless HART - How it works - This technical information resourcegives a good review of how the technology operates.

Components of WirelessHART technology - This technical reference from the HART Communication Foundation details all the relevant components.

Planning and Implementing WirelessHART technology - This technical resource details the steps needed to ensure a successful WirelessHART installation.

Wireless HART Security - Security has always been a matter of concern for Wireless Networks. WirelessHART employs robust Security measures to protect the network and secure the data at all times. These measures include the latest security techniques to provide the highest levels of protection available.

WirelessHART Technical Information - These excellent technical engineering links from the HART Communication Foundation provide technical information on various WirelessHART technology related topics including: Security, Co-Existence, Control, System Redundancy, Peer-to-Peer Communication and more.

Wireless Introduction
WirelessHART Security Overview
WirelessHART Adapter
WirelessHART Gateway
Co-Existence of WirelessHART with other Wireless Technologies
Control with WirelessHART
System Redundancy with WirelessHART
Peer-to-Peer Communication with WirelessHART
WirelessHART System Engineering Guide

Other Links

WirelessHart Signals a Change at Plants - Gareth Johnston and Alan Munns - Wireless technology is so much a part of our lives that we use words like "Blue Tooth" and "WiFi" systems with confidence and familiarity. So why has it taken so long for industry to take advantage of the benefits a wireless connection can offer? - from ABB.

Why WirelessHART? - The Right Standard at the Right Time - This paper summarises key aspects of WirelessHART, including several of the design decisions that make it the right choice for wireless process automation.

A Guide to Wireless Sensor Technology - Brett Biondi and Jonas Berge - Since its emergence, managers and engineers have done due diligence on IEC 62591 WirelessHART, considered to be a global standard for wireless sensor based technologies. Many engineers now look to WirelessHART to cost effectively automate manual tasks, proactively maintain and monitor critical assets, comply with regulatory frameworks such as the EPA, drive productivity improvements and minimise production costs. Thousands of WirelessHART networks with hundreds of millions of operating hours are in service around the world. How are engineers using wireless to create greater competitive advantage? This article begins by understanding WirelessHART and then looks at innovative ways engineers are using the technology - from the excellent publication PACE and Emerson Process Management.

Expanding plant Networks with WirelessHART - With process instruments getting ‘smarter’ every year, their capabilities are often underutilised. Important data that could help save costs remains unused. This potential can be tapped by using WirelessHART. Intelligent devices, whether they are valve positioners, temperature devices, flow meters or level meters, supply additional data such as secondary process variables or device diagnostics that can be used to obtain a better insight into the process. This data can be made accessible using a HART data transfer protocol. Although new control systems are HART enabled, the many legacy control systems in the field frequently lack the ability to collect HART data. The WirelessHART standard can be used in both retrofit and greenfield installations, providing distinct advantages for each - from Process On-Line.

Wireless for Asset Uptime - Jonas Berge explains how WirelessHart technology can be used to increase plant asset performance by enabling key additional measurements without extensive disruption. Asset monitoring requires additional measurements for which instrumentation is rarely included in the plant while laying cable, opening cable trays, and rewiring junction boxes is high, and therefore improvements don't get done. WirelessHart instrumentation drastically reduces risk since full multi-hop, multi-path, mesh topology eliminates all cables - Thanks to Jonas Berge and Control Engineering Asia.

Smart Sensing: Situational Awareness - Jonas Berge - Plant safety can be improved by making available important information to the relevant crew members at the right time. Smart sensing in this regard can improve the situational awareness of plant staff and as such improve operational effectiveness and safety. We sometimes read about plant disasters in the news, and every so often the cause has been a manual valve which was believed to be closed but was actually open. The information did not get passed on to the new shift crew at the shift change. Had they known the valve was open, had they had that crucial piece of information, the disaster might not have happened. We tell ourselves ‘had I only known,’ and we also say hindsight is 20/20. WirelessHART technology provides a way to add important measurements and feedback to the operators to improve situational awareness. As such, enabling them to make better informed decisions based on actual information rather than having to deduce or infer information from other variables. Transmitters using this technology can easily be installed in older plants - Thanks to Jonas Berge and Industrial Automation.

Maintenance with a Hart - Jonas Berge - With finite resources, there is often not enough time to manually inspect, clean, and service all the process equipment around the plant to help prevent failures and downtime. The existing primary layer of wired process control for automation, found on the P&ID, is no longer sufficient. Deploying a “second layer” of wireless coverage of missing measurements to automate process equipment inspection, that goes “beyond the P&ID”, can help the maintenance department become more effective - Thanks to Jonas Berge and Control Engineering Asia.


Wireless Interference Issues

Can Multiple Wireless Technologies (like field and plant networks) Co-exist without Harmful Interference - Rajiv Singhal and Eric Rotvold - Some process operations may have been hesitant to adopt in-plant wireless applications because of concerns that radio frequency interference between wireless solutions could affect the reliability of essential communications. An open, standards-based wireless architecture from Emerson Process Management and Cisco Systems addresses these concerns by using mesh network technology and other methods to provide high levels of communication reliability at both the field-network and plant-network levels. Coexistence tests of real-world applications using this architecture demonstrated no noticeable impact on network reliability - from Emerson Process Management.


Wireless Instruments and Asset Management

Wireless: The Golden Age of Asset Management - Peter Zornio discusses the advancement of standards based field wireless technology - from Emerson Process Management.


Wireless Instrument Security

Wireless Security and Standards Are Still Hurdles to Potential Users -Industrial Wireless Worries: Security and Standards Delay Adoption and User Affinity - Ian Verhappen - Industrial wireless networks are the "next big thing" for industrial automation and industrial networking in particular. However as with all new technology, the adoption rate often lags both the level of coverage in the press and, of course, the number of purchase orders that companies developing the technology need to recover their investment, at least in the short term. Experience has shown that any new technology in the industrial arena follows the traditional chasm model of early adopters and major companies that install small-scale pilot plants or test systems to see how it works and understand the technology. The results of these small-scale tests then form the basis of corporate standards and practices for larger-scale rollout and adoption of the new technology. A recent study by ON World (www.ControlDesign.com/onworld) confirms that this trend is being repeated for industrial wireless. As a result, it is unlikely that large-scale adoption of industrial wireless will take place until the middle of this decade. If the challenges of security and standards are not addressed, this date likely will move farther into the future - from Industrial Automation Networks and www.controldesign.com
Ten Easy Steps for Wireless LAN Security - Some Low Cost Ways of optimising the security of your Wireless LANS - from L-Com.


Wireless Instrumentation Standards

ISA100 - THE Standard for Wireless Systems for Industrial Automation - Wayne W. Manges - The ISA100 committee arose from an uproar from end users who had tried various wireless offerings available and found them all to be lacking in some important aspect. The conclusion was that a standards organization was needed to wade through the hype and arrive at a viable approach to successfully deploying wireless in the harsh environments familiar to the ISA member community. The first ISA members to come to the table were from the process industries (petrochemical, chemical, pharmaceutical, water, wastewater, etc.) so the first activity to emerge became focused on that marketand is now known as ISA100.11a. This paper looks at the reasons that the community demanded the development of the standard, what attributes were important to those early voices, and what early outcomes are emerging from the committee established. The concepts established early in the formation of the ISA100 (formerly SP100) committee still ring true and carry the group forward in producing the group’s “work products” including technical reports, normative standards, and guidance documents. The committee established early goals related to universality, transparency, and “future-proofing”. Today’s committee carries forward with over 500 members, greater than 10 sub-groups, and many weekly telephone-enabled conferences - from IDC.

The Technology behind the ISA100.11a Standard - The ISA100.11a standard was architected based on end user’s requirements and feedback. This presentation offers insights into how these requirements are implemented in the underlying technology foundations.


Wireless Sensor Network Implementation

Video - Wireless Network Module - Wireless I/O systems are gaining in popularity as plant operators understand the benefits of costs, reliability and flexibility associated with switching from traditional wiring. In this video, journalist and industry expert Peter Welander shows how the WNM Wireless Network Module from Moore Industries provides a robust and versatile wireless I/O solution - from Moore Industries.

Competing for the Future - does Wireless Play a Part? - There are many issues that need to be considered in the implementation of a wireless sensor network. This article looks at these issues from the perspective of WirelessHART technology, but whatever wireless technology is used, the end user needs to take the following factors into consideration - from the excellent publication www.processonline.com.au.


Wireless Instrument Applications

Discrete Wireless - Bill Lydon - Wireless discrete monitoring and controls standards emerging - Industrial wireless is proving valuable for automation professionals in many areas of industrial automation with products and standards emerging. People are comfortable with wireless since they use it in their daily lives with cell phones, personal computers, security monitoring, and other devices. Wireless standards to date have focused on analog sensors, but there is growing interest and adoption of wireless for discrete monitoring and for controlling digital output points. Discrete monitoring and control points significantly outnumber analog input and outputs in automation systems and are the largest installation cost on most projects. Discrete points monitor contact closures from a wide range of sensors and use contact outputs to control a wide range of devices, including motors, two position valves, and solenoids. If wireless cost and reliability improve to compete with hardwiring, this would be a real improvement in automation systems. Today, wireless sensors are being applied to select applications that have a high return on investment as a low-cost means for monitoring hard-to-reach locations and deploying new innovative applications. Examples include connecting far distant sensors that are too expensive to wire, such as tank monitoring/control, and as an alternate to electromechanical slip rings on rotating machines connecting electrical signals from a stationary to rotating structure - From the ISA and InTech.

How Wireless Networks are Changing Industrial Environments - Todd Hanson - IEEE 802.15.4 based wireless networks can be reliable, robust, and cost effective for many industrial, warehousing, and facility applications. These wireless networks transmit through walls and floors, reducing wiring and routing challenges, and making equipment placement more flexible and productive - from Control Engineering.

Remote Safety Shower Monitoring Using Wireless Transmitters - A chemical manufacturing and refining plant needed to upgrade remote safety shower monitoring systems to comply with regulations. Though the existing shower facilities fall under a grandfather clause and are not subject to more stringent regulations, the customer wanted to ensure personnel safety while reducing the potential for issues that could occur with on the - job accidents - from Honeywell.

Cost Effective Leak Detection and Repair Monitoring of Fugitive Emissions - Finding hazardous leaks and fugitive emissions in a refinery or chemical plant is a huge but critical job to ensure regulatory compliance, safety, and to prevent costly fines. Each plant can have over 35,000 valves and as many as 200,000 monitoring points. Both refineries and chemical plants have seen the cost of their lead detection and repair (LDAR) programs skyrocket as the number of monitoring points has increased - from Honeywell.

Utilising Wireless Instrumentation in Well Automation - Denis Rutherford - The use of wireless instrumentation in well automation and production optimization has just started gaining momentum in the marketplace. Driven by cost-cutting measures and the need to gain more operational visibility (to meet regulatory requirements), wireless instrumentation eliminates expensive trenching and cabling while providing access to hard-to-reach areas using self-contained, battery-powered instruments - from Control Microsystems and the American School of Gas Measurement Technology.

Enhancing Oilfield Operations through Wireless Technology - Ed Morrison - Advancement in directional drilling technology has changed the way oil and gas production companies design and manage well locations and associated well site automation. Multiple wells require multiple production tanks. Environmental concerns and increasing regulation over hydrocarbon fluids stored in remote tanks require production companies to redefine or find new ways of automating wellhead control to prevent tank spills. The next generation of wireless monitoring and control products provide sophisticated monitoring capabilities and fail safe networks to address these needs. Whether automating field locations with a single well, multiple wells or remote facilities, wireless monitoring and control systems offer many advantages over hard wired systems - from O&G and OleumTech Corporation.

Integrating Wireless Instrumentation with SCADA Systems can drive Operational Efficiency and Reduce Deployment Costs - Hany Fouda - The use of wireless instruments in pipelines and gas production operations has been gaining momentum over the past few years. Driven by cost cutting measures and the need to gain more operational visibility to meet regulatory requirements, wireless instruments eliminate expensive trenching and cabling while providing access to hard-to-reach areas using self-contained, battery-powered instruments. However, SCADA engineers and operators are facing the challenge of integrating wireless instrumentation networks with other communication infrastructure available in the field. Managing and debugging dispersed wireless networks presents a new level of complexity to field operators that could deter them from adopting wireless instrumentation despite the exceptional savings. This paper looks into the particular ways in which operators can tightly integrate wireless instrumentation networks with SCADA and realize the full benefits of such an integrated solution - from Control Microsystems Inc.

Industrial Wireless Ethernet Systems: Implications & Applications for the Smart Grid - Peter L. Fuhr, Ph.D. - Electrical systems worldwide are being upgraded and/or expanded by the introduction of demand-response systems, alternative energy sources (wind, solar, etc), and home metering. The net result is a wide cross-sections of technologies that are intertwined into what is being called the Smart Grid. Potential applications for industrial wireless ethernet systems in this arena abound - and will be reviewed - from IDC.

The Wireless Option - Harcros Chemicals Rethinks Its Position on Valve Positioning - Kurtis Jensen, Kevin Root & Lloyd Hale - From the outside, a chemical plant may look like a series of pipes, tanks, and railcars. However, within these plants, there are many valves that are employed to move liquids throughout the chemical production process. Some of these valves may be operated manually, which, generally speaking, increases the chance that they may be left in a position that is unwanted. In such a scenario, it would be advantageous to have some automated valve monitoring capability to ensure the appropriate positioning of valves in real-time. However, the complexity of hard wiring such valves is cost-prohibitive. Hence, the evolution of industrial wireless systems has opened up new opportunities for valve positioning applications in the chemical processing industry - from www.flowcontrolnetwork.com.

Wireless Devices in the Factory Automation - An Overview of Adoption Trends - Khadambari Shanbagaraman - Wireless devices are perceived as the next big technological wave in factory automation. However, the current adoption trends are moderate at best despite requirements for real time data, mobile workforce, remote access and flexibility in operation. This is mainly because the wireless devices are not found to be robust enough by end users due to concerns such as reliability, security and interoperability - from Frost & Sullivan.

Food and Beverages Industries go Wire Free - Khadambari Shanbagaraman - An increasing population and growing consumer demand for packaged foods has forced food and beverages industry to look at new technologies that provide flexibility, easiness of operation and constant tracking of the production process. Complete transparency is required along the production process for assuring consumers health and hygiene. This demands continuous monitoring and efficient traceability of the entire production process in the food manufacturing plant. Wireless devices provide answers to the aforementioned requirements in the Food and Beverages industry - from Frost & Sullivan.

Wireless Communication for Tank Farm Applications - At this refinery, engineers and technicians researched wireless communication possibilities for increased efficiency and timer monitoring. They needed to determine whether reliable data transmission via radio would stand up to an environment with a high level of EMI, and if the cost of cabling a large area with remote storage tanks could be reduced or eliminated - from Phoenix Contact.

Oil and Gas Processor goes Wireless on the LAN - Proper Data Protection is a Mandatory Requirement to ensure PAN Communications' Security and Safety - While security remains as the major concern in the use of a industrial WLAN, or wireless local area network, it should be robust following a well defined standard and meeting the industrial safety and security regulations including premises protection and detection of rogue nodes like unauthorized access points (APs) - From InTech and the ISA.

Improving Plant Production with Wireless Condition Monitoring - Jim Ralston - Machines may be in remote locations where network infrastructure is not available, or on moving platforms where hardwired network connectivity is not practical, this paper highlights that wireless communications is a networking alternative that offers installation cost savings, quicker deployment and even improved reliability in certain situations - ProSoft Technology, Inc.

Wireless Systems Development for Distributed Machinery - Monitoring and Control - Anthony J Seman III, Michael E. Donnelly, P.E., Stephen Mastro, Ph.D. - This paper highlights the programs demonstrating the use of wireless technology for monitoring and control of shipboard machinery during the past 10 to 15 years at NAVSEA Philadelphia. This work includes the demonstration and testing of wireless systems hardware and software, and also the development of suitable architectures to fold such technologies into an overall ship machinery control and human interface that is highly functional and affordable - from MicroStrain.

Wireless technical papers from MicroStrain, including strain gauges with wireless interfaces.

The following links are from Emerson Process Management:

Pump Health Monitoring - Protecting Your Pumps, Production, and People - With More Than 2/3 of Your Pumps Unmonitored, Which One Might Threaten Production Today? - What if you had a cost effective, easy to apply solution for monitoring these pumps 24/7? Being able to detect changes in process variables and equipment condition are the keys to avoiding pump damage, environmental incidents and negative business impact. But not all pumps traditionally met the cost threshold for investing in these kinds of monitoring systems. Now, thanks to Emerson’s Smart Wireless technologies and integrated approach to equipment protection, the engineering requirement and cost of applying predictive technologies is no longer an obstacle. Without wires, trenching or complex engineering diagrams, having the protection you need is now affordable for nearly all of your pumps.

Wireless Proves Its Worth - Plants Early Experience Leads to High Value Applications - Tim Gerami and Jerry Moon.

Smart Wireless Network Monitors Eye wash and Safety Shower Stations - Automated monitoring delivers real-time data to plant operators with 60 percent installed cost savings compared to wired technology.

Smart Wireless Solution Increases Throughput of Rotating Kiln - A pulp and paper mill struggled to properly control calcining in a lime kiln. To do this the customer needed to measure the internal temperature on a rotating lime kiln. Due to the restrictions of wiring, this measurement was inferred, decreasing throughput of the kiln.


Industrial Wireless Resources

WINA, the Wireless Industrial Networking Alliance have launched a new website - Until now, there has been no single resource that provides wireless networking information for industrial applications, making research a challenge for end users because of the fast pace of technology advances, new applications, and standards. WINA's website opens the lines of communication for the Association's work on wireless solutions by industry and by application, and has the capability to keep members of industry informed about standards developments and upcoming technical conferences through forums, discussion boards, and webinars.
This Resource Library has some excellent Wireless Technical Information - Thanks to Millennial Net.


Wireless Instrumentation Technical Videos

The Following Videos are from Emerson Process Management:

BP Refinery of the Future: Using wireless for business value

Wireless Case Study on an Offshore Platform

Putting Wireless to Work at BP's Cherry Point refinery

Extended Range Wireless Antenna - Plant Wireless - Emerson technology demo introducing an extended range wireless antenna for automation technologies in remote locations.

Is the (Completely) Wireless Pharmaceutical Plant Only 10 Years Away? - It's possible, says Jane Lansing, VP of Marketing for Emerson Process Management. Sure, Emerson is heavily invested in enabling wireless in pharma, but the technology, standards and, yes, FDA support are all there to make the next decade the golden age in wireless for the pharmaceutical plant, Lansing says.

Extreme Wireless Applications - If your wireless application isn't clean and pretty, then check out Emerson's Smart Wireless networks!

Leading the Smart Wireless Transformation - With more than 580 million operating hours, spanning 6,100 wireless networks around the world, Emerson's Smart Wireless solutions are a proven way to monitor critical functions. Emerson experts have developed a range of wireless sensors that work in places where people can't go and where stringing wires isn't practical.

Go to Emerson's Video Central - over 15 Wireless Videos to choose from.


General Wireless Technical Information

The Beginner's Guide to Cellular Technology - The use of cellular technology for industrial applications is on the rise, but it can be difficult to differentiate between all of the options, standards, and carriers. Before deciding on a cellular solution, there are some basics that every system integrator needs to know. This article thanks to moxa.com covers:

    • What 1G, 2G, and 3G really mean
    • Understanding CDMA, GSM, GPRS, etc
    • Important questions to ask
    • How to apply this knowledge

Wireless Technologies take Personnel Safety in the Process Industries to a New Level - In modern times the Process Industries have implemented many strategies to improve the operational safety of plants to protect personnel and the surrounding environment, to the extent that accidents are thankfully few and far between. From Extronics.

Antennas - A Brief Tutorial - Randy Klassen - Antennas are simply lengths of conductive metal that radiate radio signals into the air. Most common antennas are designed to be one-quarter, sometimes one-half, the wavelength of the radio signal they are to transmit/receive - from OMNEX Control Systems Inc and Cooper Industries.


Radio Frequency Identification

The following references are from Abhisam Software.

RFID Case Study ebook - This excellent 61 page technical reference has details on 25 different RFID applications from around the world. The password to the document is " abhisam".

The world's first FREE RFID e-learning course which is a no obligation, no strings attached, absolutely free RFID course, that can be downloaded to your own PC and you can view it without any restrictions at all! Plus it's a REAL e-learning course, NOT somebody's stale Power-Point presentation! It has plenty of flash based animations, graphics and text, with a self-assessment test. The visuals help you learn key concepts QUICKLY and EASILY.

Technical Paper on How to Achieve FDA Compliance on the Pedigree Requirement using RFID without having any sleepless nights or spending a fortune but still achieve a payback of less than a year. The password to the document is " abhisam".

E-learning course on RFID - This course clearly explains RFID technology, how it works, how it is ages ahead of bar coding and how it is applied to various businesses and industries. It includes basic concepts, RFID Physics, RFID Systems, Middleware and Systems, RFID and Applications and RFID Security and Privacy.

M-learning course on RFID - This is a mobile ebook, which you can download to any mobile smart phone that runs Windows Mobile OS, Palm OS, Symbian OS or Blackberry. Alternately a PC version is available - This quiz book contains a set of 30 questions related to RFID technology. The level of difficulty for each question is different. Some are very elementary, whereas others require a better knowledge about RFID technology to answer correctly.

Other Links

Converting serial networks to Ethernet communications - New communications technologies have emerged that provide high-speed wireless Ethernet communications to field applications. From InTech and ISA.

Guidelines for Securing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Systems - A 154 page technical guideline from the national Institute of Standards and Technology.

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