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Wireless in an industrial setting

Wireless in an industrial setting

Industrial and manufacturing enterprises are also discovering wireless technology. Used in industrial settings, wireless offers many of the same advantages: lowering costs by eliminating the need for cabling and bringing the flexibility of wire-free networking. In an industrial setting, wireless can help lower energy and material consumption, lower production costs and increase productivity.

Wireless products intended for industrial settings differ from ordinary wireless products in important ways: they emphasize reliability over speed, they’re housed in heavy-duty enclosures and they’re not standardized.

Slow and steady

In industrial applications, reliability is more important than speed. The data being transmitted is usually simple sensor or control data, which requires very minimal bandwidth.

Reliability in industrial applications is, however, of utmost importance. When you’re communicating with the sensors and controls to devices that are often very large and expensive—and often dangerous—you want to be sure the data goes through. Plus, industrial environments are often difficult for wireless transmission because of long distances, and interference from large motors and reflective metal surfaces. For these reasons, wireless devices built for industrial use tend to be very slow but quite reliable.

Tough as nails

Industrial environments can be tough, exposing electronics to vibration, dust, moisture and extreme temperatures. For this reason, industrial wireless devices are usually housed in far more robust enclosures than devices intended for office environments. Standard features to look for are heavy-duty steel cases, water resistance, dust resistance and extended temperature ranges.

A bit of a mystery

The wireless market for industrial applications is highly fragmented with most manufacturers doing what they think is best, and there are no real standards. Because of this, compatibility is often an issue. Your best plan might be to find a brand and a supplier that work for you and to stick with them.