Industrial Wireless: when communications must absolutely, positively get there — in milliseconds
Back in the early years of FedEx, its slogan was “when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight” to emphasize reliable delivery. Today, the “absolutely, positively” part applies to the data packets of industrial wireless communications.
But they must get to their destinations much, much faster — in milliseconds — to meet the mission-critical control and safety requirements of time-sensitive applications in industries such as oil and gas exploration, production and operation.
That’s why they are called deterministic communications. And they are a far cry from the best-effort WiFi in homes, offices, cafés and just about everywhere in the world these days. Oil and gas operations can benefit from industrial wireless communication not only because of its deterministic nature and real-time reliability but also given its cost savings, flexibility and scalability compared to wired, fixed-cabled communications.
Ironically, field workers in many upstream and midstream environments readily use the onsite WiFi network on their laptops, tablets or smartphones as they would at home or in the office: to get and send email, connect to the Web, and even access company data and applications securely over a virtual private network. But because this is typically a standard WiFi network, connections still drop sometimes, giving them the impression that wireless isn’t reliable enough for onsite industrial applications. Not true.