Wireless technology, the networking backbone in homes and offices around the world, is about to see widespread adoption where it will have a profound impact: on the plant floor and out in the field. The wireless market was $325.7 million in 2005 and is forecasted to be more than $1 billion in 2010, according to ARC Advisory Group.

Wireless interface solutions, expected to increase on the plant floor in the near feature, should help manufacturers reduce costs. Source: Honeywell.

"Manufacturers recognize that wireless can offer cost reductions. They see wireless technologies as an enabler of entirely new business processes that will not only be less expensive, but will be safer, more reliable and far more transparent than their current manufacturing practices," says ARC Senior Analyst Harry Forbes.

A major factor favoring greater deployment of wireless technologies is the ability of wireless applications to improve operations within manufacturing plants, and process manufacturing stands to feel the greatest impact. Historically, process manufacturing has not been able to use wireless on a broad scale, but new sensor networking and Wireless LAN developments will soon change this, presenting a huge opportunity for manufacturers who can use wireless to gain visibility into hidden processes, assets and activities.

Wireless technology offers a more cost-effective means of monitoring plant equipment and production processes and enables real-time decision making to optimize production or to head off maintenance issues before they interrupt production. Literally millions of field devices are installed at great cost in process manufacturing facilities. However, because most are not digitally enabled, their ability to share process and maintenance information is extremely limited.

New wireless sensor technologies will reduce the cost of information dramatically as they are developed and deployed in manufacturing. For more information on this study, visitwww.arcweb.com/res/wireless.