A Guide to Managing Industrial Wireless Networks


The last 10 years have seen a major expansion of the use of wireless data technology in every aspect of life and in every industrial venue. From the ubiquitous cell phone to smart phones, tablets and more, wireless data communications have become an important, perhaps the most important, medium. In the last half dozen years, wireless field devices have begun penetrating the industrial environment too. IT and plant floor communications managers are faced with a daunting task in coordinating all the uses of wireless in the average 21st-century plant.

As more and more wireless devices and applications become an integral part of the industrial arena landscape, concern grows over in which layer of the network these wireless devices should be placed. This question concerns everyone since this is sure to impact plant or plant operation in the near future.

We typically see two physical networks. The Process Control Network (PCN) involves Layers 2 and below. The Business Network (BN) involves Layer 4 of the Purdue model. If you are part of a plant team that supports either of these networks, the discussions within this paper have been or will be part of an ongoing discussion for your organization.

We've seen a number of major companies make an attempt to stake out where wireless devices will fall and under what level of the network. This paper addresses these types of issues and is intended to provide answers to the many questions that are sure to arise.

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