Commercial and residential networks are rapidly becoming
wireless. Will industrial networks follow? Going wireless
means more than just plugging in some wireless components
to replace the wires. At today's low prices, it is easy to justify
using wireless components in residential networks to avoid
costly or unsightly installation of wiring. Justifying the commercial
use of wireless, however, is not quite so clear. Aside from wireless's known privacy
and coverage problems, running wiring in offices through drop ceilings and cubical
partitions with built-in wireways is still generally a lower-cost option than wireless.
The application of wireless in industrial manufacturing entails these same constraints,
but with the additional requirement that the communications system be secure and
never fail. Yet the cost of industrial wiring is so high that wireless can usually be
justified for industrial networks. In this book we will explore the technology available
for industrial wireless communications both from the perspective of factory floor
and process automation.
A relatively new wireless application is now becoming popular, particularly in the
materials-handling sector of factory automation: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).
The most simple of these applications simply provides the same type of
automatic identification as barcode, adding the ability to be read in far more difficult
situations including non-line-of-sight. However, using RFID for only barcode
replacement limits its potential. In this edition, we will explore many types of RFID
applications as an enhanced barcode and extending to a traveling database.