Invensys Launches Wireless Services

Consulting services will focus on wireless-enabled solutions that are vendor-independent and can be deployed at both the plant and enterprise levels.

Some 18 months after introducing its wireless infrastructure strategy at ISA Expo 2005 in Chicago, Invensys Process Systems (www.invensys.com), Foxboro, Mass., is launching a new industrial practice aimed at wireless applications. The practice will focus on wireless-enabled solutions that can be deployed at both the plant and enterprise levels to help improve overall industrial asset performance management, the company says.

A cadre of 15 professionals in locations around the world will serve as wireless subject matter experts, in support of existing Invensys field service and technical support staff, says Hesh Kagan, strategic technology director for Invensys Process Systems. The company’s Enterprise Networking and Security Practice, as it is known, will provide industrial customers with enterprise wireless services based on a four-step assess/design/implement/manage lifecycle methodology, Invensys says.

The Invensys approach to wireless, unveiled in 2005, is designed to be both vendor-independent and standards-agnostic, using technology supplied by Apprion, Moffett Field, Calif. The strategy relies upon shared access point technology and common data and security models that can work with all wireless devices—regardless of vendor,
wireless standard or application. Apprion (www.apprion.com
) on June 18 unveiled the second generation of its ION System for industrial wireless application networking.

Packaged solutions

“We’ve done a lot of work in the last year and a half in terms of educating ourselves and our installed base on the concept of a unified infrastructure for wireless, what happens when you’re dealing with multiple technologies and multiple applications, and how to manage that,” Kagan observes. Now, with that infrastructure awareness in place, the next step is to provide a set of “packaged solutions” for applications in which wireless technology can provide the most value, notes Kagan. 

For its wireless solutions offerings, Invensys will focus on seven specific wireless application areas that Kagan says are “common to every industry.” The seven applications are mobile workforce, field data logging, condition monitoring, asset tracking, physical security, personnel safety and communications.

But Kagan is quick to add that in the world of wireless, one size does not fit all. “Even as we package up these applications, they’re not packages that you can simply tie a bow around and say, ‘Here’s operator mobility,’ or ‘Here’s physical plant security,’ ” he observes. “These packages have to be tailored and engineered for the end-user, and they may require completely different technologies from one user to the other, based on what it is they want to do.”

Beyond the plant

That’s where the services of the company’s new wireless practice team come in, of course, by providing the wireless expertise and capability that may be lacking at many end-user sites. And unlike many of its industrial competitors, Invensys says, its wireless services go beyond the plant level to incorporate enterprise level solutions.

“End-users can either start with wireless in an ad hoc fashion and just let it develop in a cockamamie way,” says Kagan, “or they can call somebody in to help them work through a road map and a strategy, from both an IT (information technology) perspective and an automation perspective. And that’s where we’re positioning ourselves.”

“We’re really trying to bridge the gap between the process world and the IT world by providing enterprise class solutions, and applications that drive value for the long term,” adds Brian Courchesne, marketing manager, performance services, for Invensys Process Systems. “That’s what we think is different about our approach to the marketplace.”

 

Wes Iversen

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