Aug. 4, 2009
Industrial Ethernet, which is rapidly becoming the automation network standard has dramatically reduced the amount of cabling required for industrial applications. Wireless technologies are already taking the next step by all but eliminating cables altogether, promising a boon to environments that regularly destroy cabling through excessive heat, airborne particulates or high levels of electromagnetic interference.  
The ET 200Pro IWLAN machine mount I/O system from Siemens Energy & Automation is one of the latest offerings to deliver the advantages of wireless networking to industrial environments.

“Simatic machine-mount I/O already offered a broad range of options, and the new ET 200pro IWLAN interface module extends that, adding a new level of capability with its wireless connectivity,” says Andreas Czech, Siemens discrete automation product manager. “By eliminating the physical connection to a communications cable, automation designers can be more creative and cost conscious when implementing distributed I/O. Additionally, they can further enhance their modular manufacturing practices by using wireless I/O to reduce start-up times after changeovers, eliminating the need for maintaining communication cable connections.”

The new IWLAN interface module wirelessly integrates the distributed I/O system into the automation network. It is designed to function reliably in harsh industrial environments and its IP67-rated design is rugged enough to be mounted directly on the machine rather than in the electrical cabinet as was the case with previous modules.

“There are numerous applications where this is advantageous for material handling systems OEMs and systems integrators,” says Czech, who points to overhead monorail conveyors, automatic guided vehicles, and warehouse logistics as examples. “It also means that customers that wanted to roll out this kind of I/O system in their facilities but found they couldn’t because a wired solution was either impossible or would be prohibitively expensive can now take advantage of it.”

Based on IEEE 802.11 WLAN standards, the module supports deterministic iPCF (Industrial Point Coordination Function) for critical industrial Ethernet communications using standard PROFINET protocol. This reliable, wireless I/O connectivity allows plants to access machines and process systems as well as mobile equipment that previously could not be reached using a cabled network.

Out of the box, the ET 200pro IWLAN includes a complete wireless network interface with removable antenna interface unit, standard ET 200pro connection unit for adding modular I/O devices, diagnostic LEDs and a built-in Ethernet port for local programming or network trouble shooting. Each ET 200pro station can be vertically or horizontally installed without restrictions. A variety of optional antennas are available, including omni-directional antennas, for direct or remote mounting and higher gain signal transmission over longer distances or through obstructions.

Finally, says Czech, the ET 200pro IWLAN has been designed for ease of use and includes a simple, built-in web server with pre-programmed HTML pages for editing configurations, setting security access and viewing important diagnostic information. “You don’t need separate configuration software, which means you have easy access to each ET 200pro IWLAN through a secure Ethernet connection.”

For more information on this product, please click here.

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