Wireless technologies have both advantages and disadvantages in industrial applications.
Here are some practical tips and pitfalls to avoid when implementing wireless in your facility:
1. Radio proven. Radio has a proven track record. Make sure the PLC has open communications and a rack for I/O. There also needs to be an alarm in place for a radio failure.
2. Response time critical. Wireless communication can be useful in certain plant applications. Consider it for shutdown valves, which require seconds in action time to prevent a plant blow-out. Just in case of instrument air failure, however, make sure the fail position is specified to minimize loss.
3. Where wireless pays. Having personnel who can move around the plant can often improve the OEE of the critical equipment and increase plant reliability. However, if the area is unapproachable or hazardous to enter, capturing information through wireless technology makes sense, at least in the vicinity of the process.
4. Is your spectrum clogged? If you’re considering wireless, conducting an RF spectrum analysis will save you quite a bit of heartburn. It is not useful to use wireless communications if the spectrum is clogged with other signals or even HF noise or harmonics that will interfere with the signal quality. Select a higher bandwidth for communication.
5. Avoid crosstalk. Determine exactly what range your wireless signals are running at. Crosstalk will be difficult to troubleshoot and cause many issues.
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