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Using wireless sensors in an industrial environment

Supplier: Conlab
11 October, 2011

Using a wireless sensor in an industrial environment is practical – you can save money in the process too.

Wireless data transmission between sites is nothing new in industrial applications. Being able to transmit data over the air directly from distributed low power sensors to central monitoring industrial systems using advanced wireless network technology is a relatively new approach.


As an instrumentation technician you were tasked to monitor a number of temperature parameters for a period of two weeks and report the results to a metallurgical engineer. You were then instructed to repeat similar tests in three other locations around the plant utilising the same hardware but needed to add flow and pressure to the list of monitored parameters, add an alarm output and limit the monitoring time to 72 hours.

To meet these dynamic monitoring scenarios, you must install sensors and cables in each location. Then you need to download the logged files and transfer the data to a PC, analyse the tests results and report to management

Points you need to consider:

  • How much time will it take to install the various sensors?
  • Can sensors be installed ad-hoc?
  • What is the cost of digging a cable trench?
  • What is the cost of installing a cable tray?
  • Should you install the required cable above or below ground?
  • What is the cost in man-hours required to transfer data from the tests site?
  • What is the cost of shifting to a new location in order to replicate the original tests?

Wireless sensors can be deployed almost anywhere at a far lower overall cost than wired sensors. Smart wireless sensors with standard interface to existing SCADA systems are becoming increasingly acceptable and used while technicians gain confidence in using wireless sensing technology. There are a number of communications industry standards that will meet wireless sensing scenarios discussed above.