Larry Pereira herds cats for WINA

July 24, 2007
Now we're having a WINA panel discussion on "The Future of Industrial Wireless Technology-- an Executive Level Insight." Panelists include moderator Larry Pereira of WINA, Jose Gutierrez of Emerson Inc., Hesh Kagan of Invensys, the President of WINA, Ron Morris of DuPont, and Andrew Nolan of Honeywell. Pereira:There's been a lot of debate on services over the past year, site surveys, etc; are site surveys really necessary? Kagan: Site surveys aren't entirely necessary. But it is a matter of n...
Now we're having a WINA panel discussion on "The Future of Industrial Wireless Technology-- an Executive Level Insight." Panelists include moderator Larry Pereira of WINA, Jose Gutierrez of Emerson Inc., Hesh Kagan of Invensys, the President of WINA, Ron Morris of DuPont, and Andrew Nolan of Honeywell. Pereira:There's been a lot of debate on services over the past year, site surveys, etc; are site surveys really necessary? Kagan: Site surveys aren't entirely necessary. But it is a matter of nomenclature. It is necessary to understand the characteristics of the site you want to put radio in, and the more complex the site the more necessary a site survey will become. It reduces the probability of failure. Gutierrez: Site surveys are needed depending on the architecture and the type of radio. If you are talking about 802.11, you NEED a site survey. The reason we did 802.15.4 as a mesh was not to make it look sexy, but because we could reduce the necessity of doing complex site surveys. Site surveys are not cheap. Depending on the technology you pick, if you pick point- to-point, you must do a survey, but with a mesh you may not. Morris: As a user, I had a site survey done when we needed to connect an RTU almost 7 miles away. We couldn't do the application, as the survey results showed. If this is the first application you are doing, spend the money. You may not need to after that, but the first time, do the right thing. Nolan: First you have to define the terms. An RF survey, an ongoing service, is more correctly part of network management, and it should not be thought of as a single point in time. We've been able to inform customers of devices that they didn't even know what was there, wireless access points etc. I think this is something that should be an annual thing. I don't think this is an option, I think it is mandatory, and an annual event. Wayne Manges: I know what I charge, but what does a private company charge for surveys? Gutierrez: Emerson doesn't do surveys, but I think that if you do a site survey, you will see the reality of the RF environment NOW. A half hour later it will be different. Kagan: We established that a site survey is intended to be a baseline, not a static set of truth. We see lots of things in site surveys...what it is meant to do is to reduce the risk inherent in implementing the program. If we determine that a site survey is an RF characterization, it is something you ought to do. It could cost anywhere from a couple of thousand dollars up. Nolan: Like any good vendor, the answer is, it depends, of course. Like any engineering exercise, the level of detail determines the effort and the cost. There's more to it than just an Rf characterization. Likely 2 people for three or four days total...what that would cost depends. Morris: I know what Andrew Nolan charges, and it was worth it. You pay now or pay later. If you have problems you'll pay more than if you did it up front. It is cheap insurance to have, to identify the problems you face. Pereira: How do you insure that a wireless network is flexible and able to meet your needs? Nolan: going off in a nonstandard direction is a guarantee of pull out and replace. We need to get out of the issues around the physical layer. It isn't going to take nearly as long for new technologies like 10 Gb switched Ethernet to penetrate the industrial market. The neat thing about ISA1oo is that it addresses all of the layers of the OSI model. Obviously we're focused on transmitters at this gathering, but there are lots of other applications that will drive the development of standards and a market. Kagan: How many of you have cellphones that are more than 3 years old? ONe of the things we need to remember is that radios are fundamentally inexpensive, and the technology is changing at a very rapid rate. This is the wild west of technology, and what you buy today is not going to be the shiny pretty widget you bought three years ago. The key to flexibility is to assure that there is some degree of migration from one technology to the next, as the technology changes. Latching on to the iPhone today may not mean you are cutting edge tomorrow. Gutierrez: The reason 802.15.4 is successful is that it is simple and uses existing technology. A lot of the issues of wireless disappear, by using something that has been vetted by so many people. Use the best talent available in the standard body, too. We are addressing risk, so we aren't doing something to be cool. That is a twist that IEEE doesn't have, but that ISA brings to the table. Morris: If I buy a wireless system tomorrow, I want to know that I have an upgrade methodology. I have transmitters out there that are twenty years old and work just fine. I have Experion cards that are less than three years old that I have to replace at my next upgrade, and that isn't long enough. Manges: I see people offering online site survey tools. Does anybody know how those work? Gutierrez: Depends on whether you are using a sounding device or packet error rates, etc. They just measure how many times I have to send my packet because you aren't listening to me... WirelessHART among others, has that built in. Audience Member: Many users are skeptical of the future of the 2.4 Ghz band. Is there any risk that the bandwidth will deteriorate to the point where it is impossible to use it? Gutierrez: If it is a cellphone issue, many times it is your cellphone provider, not a wireless problem. There is no solution to bandwidth saturation, but there are mitigations. Hop channels, hop frequencies, have path diversity, there are lots of others. Coding diversity, for example. The practical answer is go get a development kit and put it in your plant and try it. Kagan: These technologies do work, and we are all staking not only our reputations but our jobs on it. The technology is ready for prime time. The solutions and the business cases are extraordinarily valuable, and if you aren't taking action to use them you are simply wasting money. If you wait until government action takes place, you will not have the ability to gain by the technology. Morris: All of us are concerned about coexistence and interference from nearby plants. It gets back to users asking the vendors what the answers are. I have valid concerns just like you do, but as a user I have to depend on the vendors to bring forth the technical knowledge and level with us on what they've come across. Nolan: Yes it is an unlicensed band, yes a lot of people use it. But that's what lets us jump in. Now the 2.4 Ghz band is a good match for industrial plants. You should be able to control the propagation. Interference means that I am at the same frequency at the same space at the same time. There are lots of ways to deal with that. I'd like to compare wireless to Ethernet...there are some of the same problems that went on there. Sniffers were very expensive...there are many commercial off the shelf tools available now that have come from the telecoms industry and networking. Your staff will just have to get used to using these new tools. Vendors will help you. Pereira: Do you envision networks from different applications will support each other? A condition monitoring application work in the same space as a process monitoring application? Gutierrez: In the short term the answer is no. There is an ownership thing. Each vendor's network is going to prioritize their own messages across their own networks. Vendors are putting restrictions through the security keys. It is a practicality of the business. Longer term, you will be seeing fusion. There's another aspect here: lots of people talk about thousands of nodes on my network. What I see is that there will be a lot of little meshes rather than one big network, and that solves the problem. Kagan: Can a process measurement share the same network as condition monitoring? Conceptually, sure. Wireless needs to be viewed as an enterprise wide phenomenon. It is an engineering problem that has to be sorted out in a practical fashion. Where these devices can be co-located, there is no reason why they won't co-exist. But you aren't going to buy an off the shelf situation. YOu aren't going to set up a wireless network in an ad hoc, completely casual solution. That might mean that there will be multiple applications sharing the same network. Nolan: The key is standards, and making sure we have universal support for different protocols, and then different applications, we'll be all right. This is the power of ISA100. We're all aware of the cost savings that wireless promises, but what we aren't seeing are the applications that weren't feasible before. Getting S100 adopted fast is a key to growing the market. This is the lesson we learned in the wired networking world, and it applies here. Morris: I just want to make sure it works. We leave the technical aspects to the vendors, but the end users just want to make it work. Pereira: Why should we have, why do we need to have, a plantwide wireless infrastructure? Nolan: There's more to it than what we've just been talking about. Adding a wireless camera to the network...there are lots of applications that aren't feasible right now...too costly. There are tools that drive efficiencies and add value...and what that means is that having plantwide coverage is going to enable those products and tools. Morris: Even at our site we put in Cat5 line to all our buildings to get connected, but now we've gone wireless in all our buildings because the technology has gone that way. When you go industrial, we're going to start on a small segment basis, rather than starting large, we'll start small. Every site is going to be doing it differently, depending on what their vision is. It will be really tough for a user to know what to put in for 10 years from now. Gutierrez: A user requirement was: I don't want to do anything more than I am doing now, in fact I want to do less. The standards are working toward self-configuring wireless networks. 802.11 will be releasing a self-configuring mesh version this year. Another requirement: I need to put the sensor where the sensor needs to be, not where the wireless works. YOu can engineer the product so that these things are self-configuring, plug and play, and are not an obstacle for somebody else. There are a lot of opportunities for other companies to create better network management tools. That way, the infrastructure is self-configurable. Kagan: IT wins. In a process environment we've created an architecture for good reason where the control system is very isolated from the enterprise. A lot of time is spent spitting at the IT guys and vice versa. Guess what. Now we have radio waves that go wherever they want to go, and they have to be managed. These applications, like operator mobility, etc. are just as valuable on the enterprise side of the street as on the process control side. The IT guys are going to manage that. You are going to have to work with IT and realize that. Manges: Most people recognize that the only thing they have in common is mutual distrust. Pereira: Wireless seems to add fuel to the fire with you think there will be common ground? Kagan: there has to be. There is a business case, and we aren't going to fail to take advantage of this. If the IT and Process IT guys aren't getting along, the plant manager is going to come along and slap people silly. Morris: We have to work closely, and within DuPont we have done a better job than we have 2o years ago. Now that we have open systems, we are required to do this. Nolan: It is interestin to see what has happened when open systems were introduced. IT found out that it was harder to deal with and they didn't want to have anything to do with process. Recently I have seen a renewed emphasis on IT control. Wireless plays right into that. I'm not sure that we're going to see the separation go away, but we might see more of a shift to more of a logical separation rather than a physical separation. The technology is going to be there to have logical separation in the wireless world. It is too compelling a story to ignore. Security appears to have been handled pretty well, and most people simply accept that 128 bit security works. This is going to draw more and more open systems into the controls world. Gutierrez: I think resistance is futile. Hundreds of years ago, the Romans invaded Greece. The Greeks said, "Let's just accept this." Years later all of the Romans were speaking Greek and reading Greek and acting just like Greeks. We are going to integrate the activities, one instrument at a time. Kagan: Good news, bad news: the IT guys win, but that doesn't mean they know what they are doing.The dark side of wireless, from an IT perspective is that wireless networks take more management than wired networks. We don't really know what the metric is yet. That needs to be determined and managed as time goes on. It will be more intense and more time consuming and involve new technologies and talent. Pereira: Are there any metrics available today about maintaining networks over time. Kagan: Gartner says 6 or 8 times more expensive to maintain a wireless architecture than a wired one. Don't know if Gartner is right, but there's a multiplier of some kind out there. But there is enough ROI in favor of doing these solutions in a wireless fashion, but be advised that the ongoing cost of supporting those networks is some multiple greater than supporting wired networks. Nolan: We have to look at it holistically across the entire faciliy. That's going to be the compelling story. Gutierrez: The home run is when we are adding value add applications that are too expensive than we can do today. Adding measurements, sensors, etc. that can optimize the plant, not minimal controls. Things work. It is the value of multiple measurements that make the right sense and make the right value. You will have another dimension of ROI than you have today. Morris: It has to be economically justifiable to put it in, and maintain it. If that isn't viable, we're going to have a hard time selling it to management. But it still is an education process and a new arena. I think back 21 years to when we put in our first DCS system and the payback we got from it. Audience member: YOu aren't addressing the control elements, the digital inputs, etc. Where are the savings if I still have to wire control elements, etc.? Kagan: This industry is very conservative. Openloop control is accepted for wireless. Closed loop control is workable but there are few people who are prepared to do that today. It is only a matter of time, experience and everything else before people start finding ways to use wireless in a closed loop environment. Manges: I think he was talking about digital I/O... Audience member: I don't put in transmitters I don't use to control the process. Where's the value? Nolan: The first generation of wireless solutions was almost entirely monitoring. We'd be very remiss if we didn't design into our products control-readiness. The cost savings do exist and the applications to do that exist so we can reduce the wiring costs. There is no doubt that we will do wireless control. Gutierrez: research shows that the market is 80% monitoring, 20% control. The research also shows that the pie will grow, and the market will grow too. Kagan: Incremental measurements can optimize the process..if they were free, how many of them would you put in? Pereira: From DuPont's perspective, what do vendors have to do in terms of marketing wireless to you? Morris: They have to share their knowledge with us and come together with a total package that will ensure that the system they are proposing will work. Having knowledgeable personnel that are working with you is critical. I'm dealing with much less experienced people on the vendor side now, and we've lost thereby. We have to be assured by the vendors that they have experienced personnel and that those people are available. We're doing remote operation of wells now, wirelessly. It has to be economically feasible and the application has to make sense. If you do the wrong thing, that can really start your plant on the wrong foot.

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