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Wireless ethernet for industrial applications

Richard Piggin (Rockwell Automation, Geddington, UK)
David Brandt (Rockwell Automation Advanced Technology Group, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA)

Assembly Automation

ISSN: 0144-5154

Article publication date: 1 July 2006




Wireless technology continues to evolve for the industrial market; however, there are several issues and challenges that must be addressed to ensure successful implementation. This paper discusses the development of wireless technology and standards and those that are currently applicable to industrial applications. Key considerations for successful implementation of industrial wireless Ethernet are presented, along with potential applications.


An overview of wireless applications is given. Wireless technology development is discussed, along with pertinent characteristics. The use standard Ethernet with automation protocols and their use with wireless is examined. Topics to consider when implementing wireless Ethernet in industrial applications are illustrated.


There are numerous diverse potential application areas for wireless, these include sensing, information, control and safety‐based applications with advantages derived from mobility, cable replacement and tracking opportunities. Each has differing characteristics. Considerations such as information or control use, and the challenges of interference, coverage, compatibility, safety, security and cost need be addressed to ensure a successful implementation. Use of commercial‐off‐the‐shelf (COTS) wireless components with standard unmodified Ethernet and automation protocols is advantageous to maximise the developments taking place in the wider Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) market.

Practical implications

It is important to understand where wireless is appropriate and where it is not. Currently, most applications are information related, however, limited control and safety‐related use is possible today with potential future growth. A fully wireless factory is not feasible yet, since there is still a requirement to provide significant power to many devices. Technology developments in wireless and associated technologies will broaden the scope of wireless utilisation in the future.


The development of wireless technology and standards, in particular, those applicable to industrial applications are reviewed. The factors influencing wireless implementation in industrial environments are presented to assist in successful implementation. The opportunity to use the combination of an automation protocol, unmodified Ethernet and COTS wireless provides potential cost benefits, flexibility, and innovative solutions, whilst providing performance and cost advantages found in the overall WLAN market.



Piggin, R. and Brandt, D. (2006), "Wireless ethernet for industrial applications", Assembly Automation, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 205-215.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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