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After reading your article ("Wireless Comes of Age," August, 2012, www.controlglobal.com/articles/2012/bartels-wireless-comes-age.html) I am very perplexed at the perception of wireless. My concern is that the vendors are creating the cloud of confusion here. I have worked in RF technology at some level for over 30 years. The simplicity of wireless (UHF, SHF and Industrial Science and Medical test bands) provide users with a variety of choices.
Wireless is easy-peasy. Ten years from now, every plant in the world will be using wireless. Most every plant will be using the "cloud" in some capacity, but all of these solutions will be blended. Wire-line and wireless will flow throughout the plant. The cost factor will drop due to dominant acceptance in the market place. You will see experts pop up in the instrument shops that understand the world is about RF technology when we discuss wireless and IP addressing, and that linking networks is not how one defines the integrity of the network connection. Signal-to-noise ratio, data packet rates and radio signal strength are very helpful indicators. But, the expert can use all this collective information and a few tools to easily set up a rock solid network.
Wireless will work anywhere! It is a matter of how you plan your network. When you engineer any project you start out with a concept, run it through a front-end engineering and design (FEED) and front-end loading (FEL), and build to your design. Wireless should be no different. RF technology works great, but it should not be considered a slap-and-stick technology.
You bring experts in that are vender-neutral and know how to make the 802.11s, existing proprietary networks, ISA 100.11a, WirelessHART, GSM and ZigBee all happily coexist. It can be done and the resources are plentiful.
However, now that competition is growing, the sales course is to plant FUD in the client on all the other products available, and say that someday they may be orphaned, when in reality they can all coexist happily within the plant with a properly managed engineering design.
It is truly simple, safe and secure—as long as you have it planned and mapped. All your handheld portables, RFID asset tags, location systems and more can happily link and live in the same environment.
It was a nice article. Once we allow the users to get past the fear, this technology will rocket. In some plants it already has.