There is a lot of information circulating about WiFi in general but when you begin to zone in on Industrial WiFi the knowledge bank isn’t as plentiful.
The term industrial WiFi encompasses communication types and protocols across many different industry sectors such as pulp and paper, automotive, bottling, process and discrete manufacturing.
Having a solid foundation of the two basic packet types of data is key. They are User Datagram Protocol (UPD) and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP).
- UDP packets are not guaranteed to be received. They are simply sent out for transmission (Fire and Forget). The device sending doesn’t care if the packet reaches its destination, it did its job.
- In TCP, guaranteed communication is at the core of the design. This is commonly used in the industrial environment as the need for guaranteed data from point A to point B is critical.
So, what happens when the data doesn’t reach its destination?
That is commonly referred to as packet loss. In a TCP environment, when the receiving body doesn’t receive the full packet the request is resent for another transmission. This type of phenomenon inherently slows down the communication due to the high re-transmits of the system. This is an area that needs monitoring and corrective action taken in the industrial environment.
Latency is another area to understand. In the simplest explanation, how long does it take information to get from point a to point b? Packet loss, interference, and wireless configuration impacts this. Latency is important with industrial wireless protocols (Ethernet IP, Profinet, etc…).
Throughput can be impacted with the right understanding of the system. Assessments and spectrum analysis can give great insight into the environment and help design the map to improve wireless throughput.
WiFi range can vary depending on each device that enters the industrial environment. The best way to manage this begins with testing for that individual device. Figuring out ranges of new wireless devices is a case by case.
Understanding the environment’s spectrum analysis is key to a robust WiFi system.
Each facility has different spectrums due to the equipment installed. What works on one end of the plant doesn’t always transfer. Treat each application as an opportunity to learn and have fun testing to ensure the equipment will perform as desired.
Remember this – there is no substitute for owning your airspace. Learn what’s in play so that the system can be designed to operate in an efficient and reliable manner.
Check out this other resource for more on Industrial WiFi >