INDUSTRIAL AUTOMATION

Automated monitoring and control solutions significantly increase efficiency of the production process by expanding area coverage and dramatically reducing maintenance costs. Automated solutions enhance both data acquisition scope and reliability, and facilitate growth and expansion through the deployment of highly scalable systems. However, until recently, the full potential of automated monitoring and control solutions was held back by limitations of conventional wired networks. To begin with, wired networks are extremely costly and often exceed $100 per meter. Costs aside, wired solutions are simply not feasible in many remote, hazardous or hard-to-access, yet mission-critical locations. The emergence of wireless sensor networks made industry executives even more acutely aware of traditional wired networks’ limitations.

The arrival of Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) brought liberation from wired limitations, but initially presented their own challenge: integration. A wide variety of proprietary solutions made interoperability extremely difficult, if not impossible. IEEE802.15.4 emerged as the foundation for standards-based wireless network solutions that overcame integration challenges while meeting the unique needs of both wireless and wired devices. IEEE802.15.4-based standards, such as ZigBee was designed to include features, like reliability and self-healing, support for a large number of nodes, fast and easy deployment, very long battery life (5-10 years), security, low cost, global interoperability and vendor independence.

With the IEEE802.15.4/ZigBee standard in place, A.N. Solutions continues to realize the potential of WSN industrial applications with its ZigBee modules, development tools and embedded software for OEMs and system integrators. A.N.Solutions’ @ANY900 RF Sub-1GHz module, for example, presents an ideal solution for industrial setting. Occupying less than a square inch of space, the @ANY900 module provides superior wall penetration and best-in-class outdoor line of sight range while keeping power consumption at a remarkably low level. WSN technology continues to find more applications in the industrial automation area, cutting costs and improving efficiency.

Plant Monitoring

Wasteful energy consumption is not what it used to be. Energy efficiency came to a forefront of corporate agendas across the industries. CEO of a Swedish manufacturing company fully recognized the need for a streamlined solution to reducing energy consumption of his industrial facility. A clear and straightforward goal was set. Room temperature should be adjusted to an optimum living climate, while everything that is not needed should be shut off. Building automation was the obvious solution, however there were numerous obstacles. A leading innovative wireless solutions provider was contracted to implement an energy-saving application that would enable remote monitoring and control of wireless HVAC elements from a central location.

Industrial facility’s concrete walls presented serious complications, and the automation solution provider had to design a low-power, battery-operated module solution, including a self-healing multi-hop wireless mesh network capable of rerouting a signal if line-of-sight was blocked. A short-range wireless sensor network technology, based on IEEE802.15.4 global protocol, was selected. The quickest and more cost efficient way to implement this technology was to use RF enabling components, called modules. A.N. Solutions’ @ANY RF modules topped the list of 802.15.4/ZigBee module vendors -- boasting over 500m of unamplified line-of-sight range, under 11 µA of current consumption, and less than square inch of footprint.

The solution provider implemented @ANY module-based control and sensor devices based on ZigBee ultra-low-power wireless networking technology with an embedded mesh networking stack software – forming a self-organizing, self-healing sensor and control network. The resulting high-quality, cost-effective system is applicable to virtually any commercial building or industrial facility, and has negligible start-up and commissioning costs.

The wireless system employs in-depth, real-time temperature and energy usage data in order to optimize energy efficiency in an industrial facility, achieving a dramatic improvement in performance. This, in turn, translates into significant bottom-line gains with the system nearly paying off itself over the course of a single year.


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