WSN Adoption Set To Increase
Going by the success of Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) in industrial automation and its apparent benefits in the form of enhanced maintenance management of assets, it’s safe to presume that WSNs will soon serve in complex process control applications in not too distant future.
Form being viewed as a mere replacement for wires to something that enhances the overall efficiency of operations, WSN as a technology has already come a long way. But market watchers believe that by sorting out some issues such as reliability and standardization, the technology could go even further and result in the deployment of large-scale networks.
According to Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Vishnu Sivadevan, "Cost reduction and greater efficiencies in industrial operations brought about by wireless networks are the major drivers for the technology; in addition, miniature wireless hardware with greater processing power has created unique applications, which can translate into business openings. Powerful microcontrollers and transceivers that are being developed in conjunction with the increased reliability of wireless mesh networks are driving this technology."
Another advantage with WSN is that, unlike manual data collection, which is inefficient and prone to errors, WSN interfaces the physical world with an IT infrastructure and brings large amounts of useful data for decision-making. As a result of this, the decision-making on errors is quicker, faults are predicted beforehand and downtime is prevented.
But then again arises the questions of dependability and standardization.
The industry is largely skeptical about large scale deployment of WSNs, since many feel that the technology and its connected devices are not yet ready in terms of reliability and uptime parameters. Issues on standardization of radio technology and whether a standard such as Zigbee will match the performance of other proprietary standards have stemmed WSN adoption a great deal.
"Companies are apprehensive of scalability and upgradeability issues of wireless networks after they have been installed," noted Sivadevan. "The reliability of wireless networks, latency on the network, throughput, and resistance has to improve further in order to be deployed in certain complex process control applications."
However, even with these hurdles, the overall the demand for WSNs and related products is likely to rise because the benefits and return of investment that could be achieved by implementing WSNs are expected to counter factors such as reliability and resistance to interference.
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