Considering wireless? There are lots of reasons to consider wireless remote I/O systems and we’re hearing more about it every day – you probably are too. You might be considering adding a remote I/O to an older PLC, PLC repair or upgrade, or installing an entirely new system. Our customers say they want control solutions that are easy to implement, reliable, and cost effective.
As of the moment, there are five wireless solutions to consider:
Bluetooth – good for short distances up to 100 meters and small numbers of devices (up to 8).
WiFi – standard for fixed short distances up to 160 meters.
Zigbee – this is proprietary technology with low power requirements, good for short distances, up to 64,000 nodes can be connected; this technology is too new, so too soon to comment on reliability and support
Cellular – good for long distances where there are multiple cellular service towers
Proprietary RF – these systems are getting good reviews right now; good for longer distances of up to 40 miles with high gain antennae; higher levels of security, low frequency range with good coverage, narrower range of applications
Carefully consider the following before investing in a particular wireless control system:
Failsafe features – what happens if the link is interrupted by a power failure or electrical storm?
Security-‘ nuff said
Setup & Testing – how difficult? Identify glitches and potential problems
Wireless can sometimes be the only way to go when hard wiring is just not possible. Considerations might include whether man-made barriers such as highways and buildings might be blocking wiring routes or geographical barriers such as rivers and mountains. Large rural distribution systems also present challenges. Industries that are applying this technology today are the water and waste water treatment utilities, the oil and gas industry, and process plants undergoing expansion.
Consider all your options and don’t cheat on the due diligence before you invest in the newest technology, or when you pursue needed PLC or I/O board repair services.