The Reliability of Wireless Mesh Networks in Industrial Environments

This is an abstract that will be presented at ISA Automation Week 2012 in Orlando, Florida. Click HERE for information on ISA Automation Week 2012.

Wireless Track:  Using Wireless e-Tablet/iPod/iPhone Technology

Presenter/Author: Mr. Brian Cunningham, Cooper Bussmann Wireless Business Unit

With increasing requirements on plant managers to reduce operating costs and increase safety, wireless connectivity is an attractive alternative to buried cable and conduit.  However questions remain as to its performance in industrial settings and more so, what will happen during an emergency when multiple alarms and signals all need to get to the control room at once?

This paper will discuss the different types of radios that are currently in use with a focus on mesh networks and their application to process control.  Spread spectrum modulation techniques of frequency hopping, direct sequence and orthogonal frequency division multiplexing will be compared and analyzed, and their applicability to common industrial applications reviewed.  Mesh networks will be delved into in detail covering important aspects such as network congestion, points of failure.  Radio standards and specifications will be reviewed, and the audience educated on how to differentiate one radio’s performance from another.  Range assessments, interference mitigation and multi-path will be addressed, along with issues surrounding the multitude of frequencies in use and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Rounding out the discussion will be a case study of where a mesh network was successfully applied, along with the lessons learned.  The audience will leave with a solid foundation to implement their next wireless project armed with the latest information and developments in the industry.

About Brian Cunningham

Brian Cunningham has worked in the industrial automation field for the past 20 years in capacities ranging from Product Manager to Applications Specialist. For the last 11 years he has been with Cooper Bussmann, Wireless Business Unit, helping customers around the world specify, install and troubleshoot their wireless systems. Brian is a graduate of the Electrical Engineering Program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, with a specialty in Process Automation and Instrumentation. Brian has been an ISA member since 1991.


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