Top Five Advantages to Introducing Wireless to Your Plant Floor

Introducing Wireless to Your Plant Floor

By leveraging wireless technology, you can literally cut the cord and see your operations in new, transformative ways.

In an age of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT), the need to collect real-time data from your operations is more important than ever.

You want to be sure you are making informed decisions so productivity can be maximized to meet the needs of automation environments today. With all of the advances in equipment and manufacturing reach, there is no reason data should remain untapped. Here are 5 top ways…

Go Wireless

Wireless technology can help minimize costs, and who doesn't like to save a little money? On the front end, you will experience lower installation costs due to reduced hardware and cabling, meaning less maintenance and more options for further investing in a future-ready plant infrastructure.

When making these types of long-term decisions for your plantwide network, think about the overall cost savings you will experience when you maximize your productivity with enhanced connectivity and equipment mobility.

Recommended Hardware

The right hardware for a wireless LAN is necessary to attain your goals of achieving secure and reliable communications.

Using wireless access point (WAP) and workgroup bridge (WGB) hardware that conforms to widely adopted IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n standards with 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz spectrum availability will help you meet a broad range of operational needs.

WAPs serve as a router to securely bring wireless clients into a wired network, and a WGB can securely connect up to 19 wired IP address clients to a wireless network.

Real-Time Control

Achieve closed loop, real-time control in critical applications, where reliability is key. Do more than just remote monitoring, troubleshooting and collecting data from your operations with IEEE 802.11 technology, better known as Wi-Fi.

By enabling machine and equipment mobility, you can meet the unique demands of real-time control with minimal latency and jitter to achieve the desired, uninterrupted performance your application needs.

Enhanced machine mobility enables the possibility of increased productivity, maximized connectivity and innovative new designs.

Single Network Infrastructure

Want to converge your existing Ethernet-based network architectures to create a single, plant-to-enterprise network infrastructure using an Ethernet-based industrial protocol, like Ethernet/IP™?

With IEEE 802.11, you can leverage the same technology for both real-time control and on-demand information to gather metrics and view analytics on a mobile device for more informed decision making.

At the same time, you can experience wireless plant-to-enterprise convergence contributing to higher productivity and less downtime.

Industrial Security

Let's talk security. We understand the importance of making sure the risks associated with wireless communications are minimized.

We also know that device authentication and data encryption methods that align with the IEEE 802.11 standard are essential.

Use the Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) security standard with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)-level encryption in industrial WLAN applications and get the most advanced security available today for industrial settings without affecting application performance.

Is an autonomous or a unified architecture better for you? If you're looking for a network that is independently configured and managed through standalone wireless access points to implement all WLAN functions, an autonomous architecture could be the answer you're looking for.

This type of architecture is ideal for small-scale deployments where more granular control of Quality of Service (QoS) is needed to help control systems network traffic.

Does the autonomous network sound like it will apply to your needs?

If not, a unified architecture might be a better fit because it is well-suited for large-scale, plantwide deployments that require a wide range of clients and applications.

In a unified network, functionality is split between Light-Weight Access Points (LWAP) and Wireless LAN Controllers (WLC) for centralized control and visibility and the ability to quickly recognize network threats.

By understanding the considerations for wireless technology, you are on your way to implementing Wi-Fi technology in your industrial automation environment and preparing your network infrastructure for the ever evolving demands of industrial manufacturing processes.

These recommendations give you the ability to start building a Connected Enterprise when standards-aligned security best practices are followed.

Visit our web site to learn more about how wireless technology can help you meet productivity expectations.

Divya Venkataraman
Posted May 30, 2016 By Divya Venkataraman, Global Product Manager, Rockwell Automation
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