The Increase in popularity among home artificial intelligence devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home has pushed many manufacturers to produce devices that can be on a wireless network. Mobility has a powerful impact on the factory floor. Engineers like the flexibility and accessibility in their day-to-day work environment. Just a few years ago, wireless was not an option, due to lack of security and reliability. With recent developments in wireless standards, designing a robust wireless network is much easier to accomplish.
The key advantage of a wireless network is lower installation cost than the traditional network involving a lot of physical media and cabling. This lowers the possibility of failure due to faulty cables. Wireless can reach areas where it would be almost impossible to have a hardwired connection. Equipment that is constantly moving can be placed in a wireless network and thus the productivity is increased considerably. Also, there is lots of flexibility for making changes to the network architecture compared to a traditional network. This also provides easier integration of new devices into the existing network.
The common challenge faced by engineers while designing a wireless network is that wireless signals may reach an area where it is not intended. Packet loss, when compared with wired ethernet, can increase in some critical applications. Network topologies tend to change as the wireless device keeps moving. The wireless signal may vary with distance and other environmental factors.
Before Implementing a Wireless Network
Many factors need to be considered before implementing a wireless network.
- Wireless channels available in the area
- Interference of existing sources
- Hardware installation limitations such as antennas and cabling for the wireless device
- Environmental characteristics of the area
- Type of topology suited for the application
- Level of security to be deployed for the requirement
- Number of wireless devices and wired devices that are going to be part of this network
- Maximum latency that is tolerable by the application and mechanism to handle lost packets
Security and availability are two keys for any wireless network. These two terms should be considered throughout the lifecycle of the wireless network. These go hand in hand and pose a challenge for the engineers to design a robust network. We understand that many manufacturers are reluctant to move toward a wireless network solution because of their concerns about security and availability. We can help.
If you are considering a wireless network or wondering how to advance your existing wireless network contact us today.
We can help you begin the journey to Wireless Smart Manufacturing with a Wireless Network Audit, and Wireless Network Design.
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Industrial IoT Lab
We built a hands-on smart lab in Richmond VA, to help meet the needs of modern manufacturing using state-of-the-art technologies. The Industrial IoT Lab is a hands-on discovery environment created to explore industrial networking, manufacturing software, and smart devices over EtherNet/IP. Find out more about the lab here.