1 January 2006

Product Spotlight: Wireless

Why is wireless important? Wireless technology grants users the power to be in constant contact with the office and the customer, wherever they are. Plus, they can react to new developments instantly, even solving problems before they start. Businesses have gotten the message that wireless will be increasingly important to all areas of operation. Wireless use has grown among early adopters, with functions as diverse as data collection, sales, supply chain management, time reporting, inventory, and customer service. In one example of the growth of wireless, about 71% of America's 108 million households own at least one cell phone, according to Forrester Research Inc. More than 25 million households now own laptop computers, and 5.3 million households have wireless Internet access.

"That doesn't sound like a big number, but it is up from zero a couple of years ago. That is rapid growth," said Charles Golvin, a principal analyst at Forrester. BusinessWeek reported that 2005 wireless revenues would see an 11% growth to $122.5 billion.

Despite the seeming omnipresence of wireless, the industry is still evolving, with new technologies and new uses of the old ones constantly being unveiled. Where is all of it taking us? Here is a look at some emerging wireless technologies, plus some other non-wireless products as well.

Ethernet Radio Modem

PS1The 905U-E is an ideal solution for Ethernet connections in process control and automation applications, such as PLCs, DCS, SCADA, data acquisition, and wireless video. Each module can be configured as an access point, bridge, client/station, or router. The 905U-E can handle multiple applications simultaneously.

The 905U-E has proven industrial strength 900MHz FHSS technology with high immunity to interference. With a range of 60 miles (100km), the 905U-E works with long and short range applications. It offers excellent penetration in congested industrial environments-over 3000 feet (1 km) through buildings, factory walls, and steelwork. The repeater functionality increases wireless range even further.

The solution offers multiple layers of error-detection and correction, automatic changeover to another Access Point if the wireless link fails, and military-grade AES security encryption of wireless data.

Firewall protection and efficient wireless management includes secure protection and message filtering at MAC address level.

The 905U-E offers two serial interfaces, RS232 and RS485, and a discrete channel for status I/O, for failure status or external status transfer. The configuration is easy to use, and diagnostics run via web-browser, with remote configuration and diagnostics via the wireless link.

Contact: ELPRO

7-Mile Ethernet Solution

PS2The ESTeem Model 192E is a IEEE 802.11b compatible wireless LAN transceiver that can help to build a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) for line-of-sight distances to 7 miles for fixed base and mobile applications. The "license free" spread spectrum 2.4 GHz wireless radio modem allows users to bridge Ethernet segments or provide access to remote Ethernet clients for computer or PLC networking. The direct sequence spreading technique gives the system high data integrity in high-noise industrial environments.

The Model 192E can be configured in multiple applications with a single product to fit any wireless Ethernet application.

Contact: Electronic Systems Technology

DIN Rail Mountable System

PS3The DIN rail mounted wireless system utilizes the license free 902-928 MHz ISM band with spread spectrum frequency hopping technology. The solution assures an interference free and highly accurate link for monitoring and transmission of critical data. The transmitter and receiver units are DIN rail mountable for installation in a control cabinet, or they can be installed in any of Adalet's fiberglass, stainless steel, or cast aluminum enclosures.

The DIN rail wireless system is a cost-cutting solution for transmitting data signals in industrial areas. This solution makes it possible to collect real-time data and realize measurable cost savings. This system avoids costly cable and conduit runs, lowers labor and material installation costs, and monitors devices where cabling isn't an option. Class I, Div. 1, battery powered, and ruggedized NEMA 4X versions also available.

The wireless system features one-watt transmit power and a range of up to 3000 feet with no line of sight. The data transmit interval is set at factory from one to 60 seconds. The system includes frequency hopping spread spectrum technology and a license free 902-928 MHz ISM band. Factory adjustable transmit power from 1mW to 1W is also included.

Contact: Adalet Wireless  

Keyboard for Harsh Environments

PS4The DW-5K wireless industrial keyboard/pointing device incorporates 2.4 GHz Wireless USB technology for a reliable 30-foot range. Because it operates using radio frequency signals, the DW-5K is not susceptible to the line of sight issues associated with infrared keyboards. It even communicates with a PC inside a metal enclosure. Its 3-button HulaPoint II pointing device allows for convenient cursor control and eliminates the need for an external mouse.

Protected from dust, water, and corrosive liquids, the DW-5K is ideal for use in harsh environment applications.

Utilizing a plug and play USB dongle, the DW-5K is automatically detected by a host computer, while a binding feature locks in the keyboard's signal for keystroke security, the ability to operate multiple wireless keyboards within the same environment, and a barrier from interference with other wireless devices.

Contact: IKEY

Security Appliance Suite for Control

The Industrial Defender V2.0, a security appliance suite, monitors and protects the real-time control environment. Industrial Defender V2.0 features enhanced security agents, customizable reporting and analysis, and increased scalability intended specifically for power transmission and distribution, water distribution and treatment, gas and liquid pipelines, mass transit systems, and power generation companies. It protects the control environment against all forms of cyber attack including viruses, worms, Trojans, hackers, application exploits, rogue systems, resource starvation, and unauthorized use, while assuring the highest levels of availability. This layered approach consists of security monitoring of multi-vendor control system critical metrics, as well as perimeter protection and network monitoring to detect and prevent internal and external threats. Easy management and immediate visibility of the entire control environment enable increased efficiency and accuracy for the user. The suite offers a threat-adaptive lock-down feature for immediate modification of perimeter security settings from the console. It also features tunable resource usage for support of older systems to eliminate the need to upgrade existing control systems.

Contact: Verano  

Thermal Imager

PS5The Ti20 thermal imager is designed for use by industrial maintenance technicians in infrared predictive maintenance (PdM) and troubleshooting applications. It offers a total solution in an affordable package. The Ti20 solution includes a portable non-contact fully radiometric camera that measures temperature from -10 to 350°C (14 to 662°F), InsideIR professional analysis and reporting software with full PdM routing support, and training materials and accessories. With the Ti30 plant technicians can achieve return on investment in the first three months of ownership by lowering downtime by just one hour. InsideIR software enables maintenance professionals to create an equipment inspection route designed to improve the accuracy of subsequent readings. Images from the first inspection are tagged with location names and temperature data using the software and then uploaded back to the imager with instructions that appear as on-camera prompts for the field technician taking new readings. The Ti20 accurately measures absolute temperature and captures 14 bits of information on all of its 4800 pixels; displaying both the thermal image and temperature reading on a large 5.5 mm x 7.5 mm color LCD.

Contact: Fluke Corporation  


Tiny Infrared Sensor

PS6The OP200, an infrared LED mounted in a 0805 chip package, is one of the smallest packaged surface mount IR LEDs in the industry. It enables design engineers to incorporate infrared sensing into portable electronic devices, such as mobile phones, that require smaller surface mount components. The devices are RoHS compliant and also compatible with high-speed automated placement systems. Other applications include non-contact position sensors, machine automation systems, and miniature optical encoders. The OP200 devices are GaAlAs infrared LEDs (880nm wavelength), packaged in a 0805 chip with a flat molded lens, which provides a wide beam angle and an evenly distributed emission pattern.

Contact: OPTEK Technology  

Remote Digital Display with Flexibility

PS7The DM 15 Digital Display serves as a remote digital display that indicates flow rate or temperature readings utilizing ST and GF Series thermal-dispersion mass flowmeters. Highly user flexible in terms of input and display, the DM15 is DC input indicator that offers a hi/low alarm set-point option that can be set to any point plus-or-minus within its measurement range. It is AC-line powered meter with a bright red LED readout. The DM15 features a user, push-button scalable +9999 digit display and will accept either the 4-20 mA or 0-10 Vdc output signals from FCI flowmeters. It is ideal for a wide range of air, gas, and fluid process control applications where accurate flow measurement is essential to the integrity of the process. The DM15 features a switch located behind its snap-off front lens that provides easy access to voltage and milliamp input selection. The microprocessor-based design provides superior measurement stability, 1-digit repeatability, and 0.02% accuracy.

Contact: Fluid Components International  

Food Contamination Detection System

PS8The Goring Kerr EZx, a contamination detection system designed to fill the gap between traditional magnetic metal detectors and full-featured x-ray imaging systems in the food packaging industry, provides a new method of detecting foreign objects in packaged food production lines. It offers the simplicity of a metal detector, a low total cost of ownership, and the enhanced detection capability/sensitivity of an x-ray system. Sensitivities for ferrous, non-ferrous, and stainless steel contaminants are as good, or in many cases better, than with competing metal detectors. Multiple aperture sizes and line heights provides the Goring Kerr EZx with configuration flexibility to suit a wide range of products and production lines. The instrument's "Quicklearn" process reduces total cost of ownership as most common package types can be set up in minutes.

Contact: Thermo Electron Corp.  

Sensor for Rotating Equipment

PS9The Model 3381A Stator Winding Temperature Sensor is used for electric motors, generators, and other rotating equipment. Stator or "Slot" sensors are installed between the windings of a motor to provide early warning of rising temperature. The sensor, available in both RTD and thermocouple versions, employs an average temperature sensing technique to read temperatures along the entire slot length rather than just at one point. The instrument is color-coded for easy identification. The Model 3381A meets ANSI C50.10-1990. Class H and Class F versions are available.

Contact: Weed Instrument  

Embedded Control

The Pyxos FT chip is the first implementation of Pyxos embedded control networking platform. Designed to be built into the sensors and actuators embedded inside a machine, Pyxos FT chips extract information from the devices, relay control commands between devices, and make the machine's control network status available to remote service centers and applications. Pyxos FT chips use twisted pair wiring to send both high speed network data and power to sensors, actuators, devices, and even building materials into which they have been embedded. Sending power and data on only two wires reduces the complexity of an installation, and lowers the cost of the end product and the installation. The Pyxos FT network consists of up to 32 Pyxos Points embedded inside sensors and actuators, and a Pyxos Pilot that interfaces with the outside world.

Contact: Echelon Corp.  

User-Friendly-Enhanced Control System

The SPPA-T3000, a control system to enhance the cost effectiveness of power plant operation, combines high availability and reliability with the advantages offered by advanced IT technologies. Plant operators can benefit from the straightforward and user- and service-friendly design, while plant owners can benefit from the system's low total cost of ownership and comprehensive communications capabilities. The new SPPA-T3000 system, which is specially tailored for the U.S. market, has already been proven through extensive testing and pilot project applications. At the heart of the new SPPA-T3000 distributed control system is the Embedded Component Services technology, which permits significant reduction of system complexity and enhances user-friendliness for operation, engineering, and maintenance tasks.

Contact: Siemens