ISA Forms Wireless Standards Committee

March 1, 2005
As chair of the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society’s (ISA, www.isa.org) newly formed ISA-SP100 standards committee on Wireless Systems for Automation, Wayne Manges is setting an aggressive goal.

“What I’m hoping is that we can have a draft [standard] out that people can look at within a year,” says Manges, who is program manager for industrial wireless programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (www.ornl.gov), in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Hitting that target will be “tough,” Manges concedes. But if the group fails to get a document out within a one-year timeframe, he says, it could be too late, given the pace at which industrial wireless technology is advancing. “If we don’t have something out in a year, we will have so much legacy out there, that any standard could become irrelevant,” Manges observes.

The ISA announced formation of the SP100 committee on Feb. 17, noting that the group will work to “create standards, recommended practices, and/or technical reports to define procedures for implementing wireless systems in the automation and control environment at the field level.” Topics to be addressed by the standard include the definition of wireless, radio frequencies, vibration, temperature, humidity, electromagnetic compatibility, interoperability, coexistence with existing systems and physical equipment location.

One of the first tasks of the SP100 committee will be to understand what industrial users need from a wireless system, and then to catalog those requirements in a meaningful way, says Manges. “We’ve got end-users on the committee, so we’re looking to them to really understand the requirements,” he says. Indeed, according to Manges, the SP100 effort has the strong support of the Wireless Industrial Networking Alliance (WINA), an end-user dominated consortium formed in February last year with a focus on facilitating industrial wireless deployment. SP100 committee members also include vendor representatives, and other interested parties.

Wireless Hierarchies

Manges envisions an eventual wireless industrial standard that may be broken into various levels based on differing industrial requirements. The environment for wireless networking in a semiconductor manufacturing facility, for example, is much different than that found in a steel plant, he notes. So the wireless standard requirements for each might differ accordingly.

“My goal is to make the standard hierarchical, so if you have one level of industrial environment, with certain kinds of machines, certain kinds of metal and certain kinds of potential interference, then you could use one kind of wireless technology,” says Manges. “But if you go to a higher, harder set of industrial requirements, you may want to upgrade to a different protocol, or a different layer,” he explains.

For further information about ISA-SP100, including complete scope and purpose, and a list of committee members, visit www.isa.org/community/SP100.

Wes Iversen

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