As Ethernet and Internet Protocol (IP) connectivity quickly become the “serial port” of the future it’s
clear that wireless technology trends will closely follow. Additionally, recently available spread
spectrum technologies are enabling new applications that go beyond simple wire and conduit
replacement to more data intensive and bandwidth demanding things such as video surveillance, inplant
VoIP, mobile computing, and active RFID asset tracking to name a few.
This paper will focus on the industrial use of public standard IEEE 802.11 technology while providing
a broad comparison of different spread spectrum wireless technologies currently deployed in industrial
automation applications. Sometimes called Wi-Fi, WLAN, and Wireless Ethernet, devices based on
IEEE 802.11 standards are now part of the IT mainstream with many office and even home
installations existing today. Advances in enhanced security features, data trans mission reliability and
environmental packaging have just recently made, what some thought of as a strictly commercial
solution, appropriate for demanding industrial applications. Further more, higher powered industrial
solutions and new antenna technology mean high data rates at impressive distances can now be
achieved. Several application examples will be shared.
Perhaps the biggest concern of industrial automation users regarding public standard technology such
as IEEE 802.11 is if security of their network and automation system will be somehow compromised.
Considerable attention will be spent on discussing solutions to these security concerns.