First things first – lets define “short-range” for this article. By short-range wireless, we are discussing wireless connectivity within 400 meters. This typically utilizes Bluetooth or Wireless LAN (WLAN)/WiFi technology. We will discuss longer-range industrial wireless solutions in an upcoming post.
Also, to help narrow our focus, we will discuss a few common use cases for an industrial WLAN. These use cases include:
- Ethernet cable replacement – simple wireless point-to-point with the Anybus Wireless Bridge II
- Wireless connectivity into a control panel with the Anybus Wireless Bolt
- A Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) Access Point to connect to multiple wireless nodes with the Anybus WLAN Access Point IP30
Use Case – Wireless Ethernet Cable Replacement (Point-to-Point)
Anybus Wireless Bridge II
Our first short-range wireless use case is to simply replace an Ethernet cable with a wireless connection. This is useful when installing an Ethernet cable is either impracticable, or cost prohibitive.
The Anybus Wireless Bridge II enables you to create a wireless point-to-point connection in an industrial Ethernet network. The Wireless Bridge works with TCP/IP based industrial Ethernet networks, such as BACnet/IP, PROFINET, EtherNet/IP and Modbus TCP.
The Wireless Bridge II utilizes Bluetooth and Wireless LAN (WLAN/802.11 WiFi) technology, for an effective range of up to 400 meters. And is suitable for use in UL Class 1 Division 2, Group A, B, C, D, environments (ATEX Category 3, Zone 2 for Europe).
Why it’s a good solution:
The Anybus Wireless Bridge II is an easy and inexpensive way to connect a controller to a remote I/O drop or other Ethernet-enabled device, using wireless technology in a point-to-point application, versus running a new cable. It provides a nearly friction-less way to introduce a wireless LAN to the plant floor – no need for additional infrastructure, such as network switches and external antennas. It’s also very easy to configure, and does not require IT level skills to get it working.
Learn more about the Anybus Wireless Bridge II:
Use Case – Wirelessly Access a PLC Cabinet
Anybus Wireless Bolt
Our next short-range wireless use case is to wirelessly connect to a PLC inside a closed cabinet. This is a useful feature when you can not open a panel of an operating machine for safety or arc-flash concerns, or if you’re located in a hazardous location.
The Anybus Wireless Bolt enables you to connect industrial machines and devices to a wireless network. It is attached onto a cabinet or a machine to enable wireless access over Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy or Wireless LAN (802.11 WiFi).
On the wired side, the Anybus Wireless Bolt communicates over Industrial Ethernet, supporting protocols such as BACnet/IP, PROFINET, EtherNet/IP, Modbus TCP as well as all TCP and UDP based protocols.
The Anybus Wireless Bolt gives you direct access to configure or troubleshoot your machinery. With a range of 100 meters you can access the internal web pages via a laptop, tablet or smartphone. A machine operator or technician does not need to be physically located at the machine to gain access.
The Wireless Boly is rated for use in UL Class 1 Division 2, Group A, B, C, D, environments (ATEX Category 3, Zone 2 for Europe).
Why it’s a good solution:
The Anybus Wireless Bolt is an easy and inexpensive way to enable a WiFi or Bluetooth connection into the control panel. Just simply connect your device to the Wireless Bolt’s SSID, and you will be connected to the Ethernet-enabled devices inside the cabinet. This can improve productivity and operator safety by eliminating the need to open the cabinet for basic troubleshooting. The Wireless Bolt is IP67 rated. If your panel is outside and in direct sunlight, Anybus offers the Sunbolt with higher temperature ratings and better UV protection. The Wireless Bolt and Sunbolt can be powered from either PoE or an external DC power source (9-30 VDC).
Learn more about the Anybus Wireless Bolt:
Use Case – Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) Access Point to Connect to Multiple Wireless Nodes
Our previous two use cases were for a simple point-to-point type connection. What if you need to connect to multiple devices on the plant floor? Our last use case looks at the multi-point application.
The Anybus Wireless LAN Access Point IP30 and the Wireless LAN Access Point IP76 are powerful industrial-grade infrastructure devices that can connect several Wireless LAN clients up to 400 meters away. The WLAN Access Points are designed to work seamlessly with Anybus Wireless Bridge or Bolt, allowing you to connect industrial equipment to your WLAN infrastructure.
This IP30 version supports mounting either on a wall or DIN-rail and is suited for mounting inside a factory/building and even inside an electronic cabinet with the use of antenna cable extensions. The IP67 version is fully waterproof and wall or pole mounted and ideal for either indoor or outdoor mounting in a factory or building.
Learn more about the Anybus Wireless LAN Access Point:
- Wireless LAN Access Point IP30 web page
- Wireless LAN Access Point IP67 web page
- IP30 User Manual
- IP67 User Manual
Multi-Point with the Anybus Wireless Bridge II
Another way to do a multi-point Wireless LAN is with the Anybus Wireless Bridge II. In addition to its point-to-point capability, the Wireless Bridge II can also be configured as an access point to communicate with up to seven Wireless LAN/Bluetooth clients.
Bluetooth or WLAN – What do I choose?
One wireless technology cannot cater for all application requirements. The standardized wireless technologies — WLAN, Classic Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy — are good at different things
WLAN (also commonly referred to as WiFi) is the most widely used wireless standard. It is often used for production planning and data acquisition as well as applications where rapid roaming is required. It provides very high data throughput but it is more vulnerable to interference than Bluetooth.
Bluetooth is often used for Human Machine Interfaces (HMI), programming, service/maintenance and real-time control tasks. It has a narrow band frequency spectrum which, together with functionality such as: Adaptive Frequency Hopping (AFH), makes it less sensitive to disturbances.
During the last few years, other technologies like Bluetooth Low Energy technology have become increasingly used for sensors, actuators and other small, often battery-driven, devices that need to be interconnected.
Want to learn more about the benefits of Bluetooth or WLAN in your application? Anybus has published a whitepaper that discusses the best practices for choosing the right wireless technology.
Looking for more information?
Contact your local automation specialist or account manager at The Reynolds Company to discuss your automation applications. Find your specialist.