Begin: 2002-04-01

End: 2002-11-01



The aim of this project was to find out the current status and future trends of wireless automation especially in process industries. The project was carried out in co-operation with Nokia.
The project concentrated on the three main parts. In the first part several case studies from the industry were studied and especially the suitability of these technologies for process automation purposes was of great interest. The technologies included all the relevant network technologies, connection protocols as well as application development technologies used nowadays and in the near future. The case studies included many interesting and innovative applications using wireless automation technologies ranging from simple small-scale systems to entire communication systems of a factory. The most interesting ones were wireless user interface based on a WLAN technology and a sensor ball application where a sensor-ball goes along with the process liquid collecting data from the process on the way.
In the second part a comprehensive questionnaire study was carried out. Altogether 220 professionals of the automation industry answered the questionnaire. The questions covered wireless automation from several aspects and the results from the questionnaire study told us how the respondents saw the current status and future trends of wireless automation. We can conclude that the respondents strongly believe that in the future wireless technologies will be used more and more extensively for process automation purposes. In particular, the use of wireless automation in process monitoring and process control applications seems to be increasing rapidly.
In the last part a wireless test environment was built in the Laboratory of Process Control and Automation using Bluetooth and commercial GSM-network. The aim of the environment was to simulate a communications structure of a tank far away from the backbone system. Bluetooth was used for short-range communications between meters and an SMS gateway. SMS was then again used for long-range communications between the gateway and the backbone system.
Experiences gained from the test environment were encouraging. First of all the system seemed to work very well for the job and secondly the system was relatively easy to implement and to configure. The only small problem with the system was the use of SMS, which cannot be used in real-time meter reading applications. Using e.g. GPRS instead would solve this problem. In the future the environment will be used for educational and scientific purposes.



Jori Suhonen


             This info last modified 2005-08-15 by Jerri Kmpe-Hellenius