The ISA100 committee has completed a new technical report that presents user and market-related requirements for the design, operation and maintenance of wireless systems throughout their lifecycles in factory automation. Factory automation applications involve specific technology, control and information systems that are characterized by discrete operations with possible extensions into batch process control. Examples include automotive manufacturing, packaging machinery, machining and robotics.
ISA-TR100.00.03-2011, "Wireless User Requirements for Factory Automation," provides use-case descriptions and comparisons, descriptions of factory automation topologies and recommendations for attributes and values for existing, emerging and conceptual solutions for wireless communications as applied to factory automation applications.
The technical report was development by ISA100 Working Group 16 on Factory Automation, which has focused on wireless technology and system architectures for the link between sensors/actuators and automation systems. While wired links between conventional sensors and actuators can often be used, many repetitive motion applications such as machine tools and robotics make wire replacement a major source of work flow interruption and high maintenance cost—driving the desire to find ways to replace wiring with fast, low-cost wireless connections.
The ISA100 standards committee is developing a family of standards for wireless communications in industrial automation applications. The new technical report represents the extension of ISA100 to the factory automation sector, notes Cliff Whitehead of Rockwell Automation, who coordinated the collaborative development of the document. "We plan to further extend this reach with an industry forum on Wireless in Factory Automation in the March-April time frame of 2012," he stated.