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Wireless Sensor Networks in Harsh Environments

Though wireless applications can be better suited to harsh environment applications than physical cabling, all the components of a wireless sensor network are not impervious to their surroundings. This video podcast explores an extreme example of wireless sensor deployment in the Arizona desert.

The deployment of wireless sensor networks in manufacturing environments is one of the clear industry trends that have emerged over the past years. To learn more about the application of wireless sensor networks in harsh environments, I spoke with Bill Conley of B&B Electronics who has extensive experience in this area.

In the Deep Dive video podcast below, Conley relates his experience in deploying a wireless sensor network to monitor a well in the Arizona desert—an environment that can cause numerous component failures. Conley says these failures, when they occur, tend to occur abruptly and the water tanks holding the well water can “mask” the failure because they hold two or three days’ water supply. As a result, by the time the fault is detected, the facilities being supplied by the well can be out of water—a very dangerous situation to have happen in the Arizona desert.

In his explanation of the architecture supporting this wireless sensor deployment, Conley describes the equipment connected to the network, the types of sensors used, the types of data collected, the conditions monitored, networking technologies and topologies used, and lessons learned from this project.

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