Engineers wanting to deploy wireless networks on the factory floor will soon get a helping hand from Rockwell Automation and Cisco Systems.
At the Rockwell Automation Fair in Nashville this week, the two companies announced that they will release reference architectures for wireless industrial Ethernet. According to Steve Ludwig, commercial programs manager for Rockwell’s Automation Control and Information Group, the new reference architectures will consist of detailed application design guidelines, best implementation practices and information on how to integrate wired and wireless networks.
Rockwell and Cisco, which last year teamed up to develop industrial Ethernet technologies, have already come out with Ethernet To The Factory reference architectures for wired networks, “You see a lot of reference architectures in the world electronics design,” says Ludwig. “But in the past there hasn’t been anything like this for manufacturing.”
Scheduled for release in 2009, the new “Wireless To the Factory Floor” reference architectures won’t come a moment too soon. As Ludwig points out, the wireless technology available for industrial automation is changing rapidly. For example, Rockwell and Cisco are currently testing the Wireless-N (IEEE 802.11n) technology to confirm that it offers the performance needed for key industrial networking tasks such as providing real-time communication between controllers and I/O.