Manufacturing News

Wireless in the air

Wireless makes it easy to locate sensors in remote places and allows engineers mobility as well. Source: Emerson Process.

Wireless connectivity for industrial sensors and actuators had everyone attending “sell-out” conference sessions at the Emerson Global Users Exchange held at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center last month. Representatives from a brewery explained how they’re testing wireless transmitters in monitoring cellar temperature. A potable water authority’s engineer explained why he uses wireless sensors for monitoring pressure in water lines. Other uses for wireless include remote level metering of tanks and silos, machinery monitoring-any application where it can be costly,  impractical and expensive to run wires. Wireless communications also allow maintenance technicians and engineers to roam the plant while staying in touch with the control system.

With all the benefits of wireless, there is a wrinkle. Just like the ongoing lack of a single standard in the high-definition video disc world, there is a lack of wireless standards for plant instrumentation and controls. Many instrumentation vendors have adopted proprietary protocols, making it difficult for users to mix and match equipment from various vendors.

One solution, however, has been offered, and another is not far away. The HART Communication Foundation released its HART 7 specification, which includes the WirelessHART open communication standard specifically designed for process measurement and control ( Many processors are already familiar with the HART protocols for wired sensors (there are 24 million devices installed), and the wireless version includes the HART protocols, IEEE 802.15.4 radio and frequency hopping, spread spectrum and mesh networking technologies. Emerson Process, Invensys and several other automation companies already support WirelessHART.

The ISA 100 standards committee (, Wireless Systems for Automation, has also been working on the standards issue, and is hosting a demonstration booth at its October ISA show in Houston. Unlike the single HART specification, the ISA 100 draft standard is being created as a family of standards, designed to support many applications and protocols through a single, integrated wireless network. The committee’s work will also ensure coexistence with other radio systems operating in the 2.4 GHz ISM (industrial, scientific and medical) band. The ISA 100.11a spec leverages existing technology and standards where possible to allow compliant devices to be produced quickly. Most major instrumentation vendors (process and discrete) are supporting ISA 100.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Food Engineering's Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo 2015

Images from Food Engineering's Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo in Clearwater Beach, Florida, April 12-15, 2015. The event brought food and beverage processors and suppliers together to gain valuable information on the latest trends and technologies in manufacturing, automation, sustainability and food safety.


Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

Food Engineering

Food Engineering May 2015 Cover

2015 May

The May 2015 issue of Food Engineering explores effective tools for hitting manufacturing targets. Also, read how processors are looking for faster ways to detect harmful pathogens in food and beverages without sacrificing accuracy or reliability.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Plant Facility/Site Issues

What issue about your current plant facility/site keeps you up the most at night?
View Results Poll Archive


Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +

Food Master

Food Engineering Food Master 2015Food Master 2015 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit to learn more.