Wire runs are not always possible or ideal in industrial applications. In situations where it is hard to wire or reconfigure industrial operations, wireless LANs (WLANs) provide an ideal alternative to traditional wired Ethernet LANs. Indeed, recent advances in wireless technology have contributed to industrial WLANs becoming commonplace solutions in various applications, such as automotive, logistics and transportation systems. These usually require automated equipment that is constantly moving and difficult to wire. The growing adoption of industrial WLANs enables these systems to be connected for enhanced operational efficiency.
With so much potential waiting to be unlocked by cutting free from wires, it is no wonder the popularity of industrial WLAN applications has grown so rapidly in recent years. For instance, you can use WLAN technology to deploy automated forklifts in a smart warehouse or overhead transfer system to increase efficiency and productivity, making the best use of limited manpower. As endless as the possibilities may be, going wireless is not always a clear-cut choice. Even if you have decided on a wireless LAN, how do you choose the right solution for your industrial requirements?
Key criteria for choosing industrial WLAN devices
Without a doubt, industrial wireless LANs can extend connectivity beyond traditional physical limits and boundaries, unleashing new possibilities. However, industrial engineers may hesitate to embrace wireless applications due to several different hurdles. How do you confirm that the network is indeed connected when wireless connections are invisible? How do you troubleshoot when these invisible connections go down?
Wi-Fi availability is the first priority
Industrial WLAN devices require specialised technology to establish and ensure reliable wireless networks. This is because wireless connection quality can be affected by many different issues, such as RF interference in an industrial environment, incorrect antenna configuration, signal strength over long distances, and so on. Failing to design the system to avoid such issues can result in unstable communications, or even permanently damage devices and cause a complete system shutdown.
In addition, constantly moving equipment requires extra attention to roaming requirements. For example, even if you have a strong wireless signal on your access point, moving devices to a different location may require a greater transmission signal, resulting in slower Wi-Fi connections or even network failures. Since slow or failed connections are unacceptable in industrial environments, consider advanced wireless roaming technologies that can achieve millisecond-level roaming to ensure reliable wireless connections.
Minimal effort on Wi-Fi settings
Whether you are implementing a wireless network for the first time or have numerous WLAN deployments under your belt, you always want to choose easy-to-use solutions. Once the networks are up and running, a software tool that can configure all your devices easily and find the best Wi-Fi channels to use in your environment can help keep your wireless connections stable and take the headache out of network administration.
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