New ISA committee meshes goals for wireless in automation

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SA-SP100, Wireless Systems for Automation, is a recently formed ISA standards committee formed to address wireless manufacturing and control systems in the areas where the wireless technology is deployed, the technology life cycle for wireless equipment and systems, and application of wireless technology.

According to committee chair Ian Verhappen "The intent of SP100 is to provide our industry the practical information it requires to 'ensure' successful implementations of wireless systems in the automation environment." Verhappen says the committee hopes to proceed in fashion similar to ISA-99, and issue some Technical Reports in 2005 with the potential to make them into full Standards later. "Part of the reason for Technical Reports" says Verhappen, "is that they can be issued more quickly and updated as the technology continues to evolve."

The new committee identifies the wireless environment and related implementation issues including the definition of wireless, radio frequencies, vibration, temperature, humidity, EMC (electromagnetic compatiblilty), interoperability, coexistence with existing systems, and physical equipment location.

Says committee member Dr.Gregory Murphy, a 20-year industry veteran and professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Alabama, "It's important we develop the standard so we can address the growing number of industrial control application issues. From network topologies to interoperabiblity with RFID and environmental conditions there are plenty of things to be concerned about." Murphy says wireless industrial control system networks represent the future of control. "It's the next generation of real-time control and I want to help lay the basic foundation for its future."

ISA's announcement explains that global short-, medium-, and long-term technology needs will be incorporated on a non-exclusive technology basis with no bias toward or against a particular wireless technology. The standards themselves may influence the allocation and use of resources and spectrum.

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