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High-performance wireless networks offer increased flexibility and mobility

Digitalization of industry is close at hand, which means that powerful industrial communication networks are required. Wireless Local Area Network, abbreviated to WLAN, is one of the key technologies here, and represents outstanding performance and reliability.

WLAN denotes a wireless, local network that is based on the IEEE 802.11 standard and is compatible with wired Ethernet. It is therefore often referred to as Wireless Ethernet. In Ethernet-based automation networks such as PROFINET RT, EtherNet/IP™ or Modbus/TCP, WLAN enables automation devices to be integrated wirelessly.

Your advantages

  • Reliable wireless communication with MIMO antenna technology and data transmission rates of up to 300 Mbps (gross)
  • Suitable for safety applications thanks to functionally safe data transmission via SafetyBridge or PROFIsafe
  • Flexible in application: Optimized for industrial protocols such as PROFINET, EtherNet/IP™, Modbus/TCP, and others
  • High-speed reliable roaming for mobile applications
  • Professional support during planning and realization, based on many years of experience

The IEEE 802.11 standard

The different technologies are specified in a group of standards: IEEE 802.11.

The most important standards from IEEE 802.11 are:

  • IEEE 802.11a: transmission standard in the 5 GHz band with up to 54 Mbps
  • IEEE 802.11b: old transmission standard in the 2.4 GHz band with up to 11 Mbps
  • IEEE 802.11g: transmission standard in the 2.4 GHz band with up to 54 Mbps
  • IEEE 802.11n: latest transmission standard in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz band with up to 600 Mbps
  • IEEE 802.11i: latest security standard, also known as WPA2
  • IEEE 802.11e: defines the Quality of Service functions (QoS)

The main difference in the standards is the data rate that can be achieved, where the effective achievable net data rate is only around 50% (see graphic).

Comparison of the achievable data rates of the WLAN transmission standards

Comparison of the achievable data rates of the WLAN transmission standards

Data rate comparison of the IEEE 802.11 standards

Large networks with several devices

WLAN is characterized by the fact that, as is the case with Ethernet, large networks can be constructed with several devices. In contrast to wired Ethernet, however, this wireless medium is a so-called “shared” medium that must be shared by all devices in the network or frequency band.

This results in longer latencies, increased jitter, and, generally speaking, a reduced bandwidth the more devices there are in the network in comparison to a wired connection. These factors must be taken into account when planning the automation application. The industrial WLAN products from Phoenix Contact are optimized for short latencies with low jitter.

Topology: Automatic roaming by mobile devices in the WLAN network

Automatic roaming by mobile devices in the WLAN network

Roaming – mobility in the network

One particular strength of Wireless LAN is the mobility of the devices in the network. The devices in a large WLAN network can move freely, and therefore switch their wireless connection automatically to the access point with the best wireless signal. This process is known as roaming.

The wireless field of a WLAN network can be infinitely extended through the use of additional access points. The speed and reliability with which the devices – referred to as WLAN clients – can switch cells is crucial in automation applications. Fast and reliable roaming is a quality feature of industrial WLAN products from Phoenix Contact.

High performance with high reliability

The latest Wireless LAN systems in accordance with the IEEE 802.11n standard offer a considerably higher data rate of several 100 Mbps in comparison to older WLAN standards, together with a longer range and increased reliability.

Wireless LAN system in accordance with the IEEE 802.11n standard

MIMO uses reflections and multipath scattering for increased reliability and a higher data rate.

The most important technical feature of IEEE 802.11n is the MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) antenna technology. It sends and receives several parallel streams of data at the same time via up to three active antennas. As such, reflections in the room are used in a targeted way to increase the data rate and improve the reliability and stability of the wireless connection, particularly in industrial environments.

Examples of applications The areas of application for WLAN in the industrial environment are diverse. The increasing need for communication for process and operating data, as well as the increasing mobility of many applications, requires the use of wireless network communication.

Wireless machine access using smart devices
Robust communication with moving machine parts
Technician on industrial antenna

Industrial wireless systems facilitate reliable communication between central controllers and shuttles. Discover the possibilities with Industrial Wireless in intralogistics: High-speed roaming, real-time communication between controller and shuttles, and also sufficient reserves for data-intensive applications.

Wireless machine access using smart devices

Tablets and smartphones are having an ever-greater impact on industry. Benefit from industrial wireless systems for convenient visualization of machine data, easy and efficient remote maintenance, and for intuitive control and operation using smart devices.

Robust communication with moving machine parts

Benefit from all the opportunities provided by Industrial Ethernet which allows you to integrate mobile and hard-to-access machine parts into your network via wireless communication: Easier and more cost-effective wireless network development, low-maintenance and wear-free communication with moving machine parts and in harsh industrial environments, secure wireless communication via SafetyBridge or PROFINET and PROFIsafe.

Technician on industrial antenna

Implement stable and high-performance data connections over distances of up to several kilometers with our comprehensive industrial antenna and range of accessories. There is a wealth of potential applications: Connection of automation components and sensor technology in remote plants via Ethernet, supply of Ethernet to hard-to-access or temporary buildings, or increasing the failsafe performance of cable-connected networks via redundant wireless paths.