Mobility is one of the defining features of an industrial wireless network. But designing and testing for mobile applications have their own, unique challenges, requiring a separate set of considerations and even different RF design software.
Rather than blindly buying and implementing a wireless network, designing the system and testing the concept beforehand will ensure that the designated area will provide a reliable signal to the mobile devices. Demonstrating that your industrial wireless network will provide a reliable “canopy” of wireless signal for the mobile devices will save time and money in the long run.
The first design consideration is how much coverage area is required for the application. This may sound like a simple statement where you would always want 100% coverage. But getting a wireless signal into every area of a plant floor or building can be difficult, and providing that level of coverage can be very costly.
Truly considering where the mobile devices will be used can save a lot of money in the design and implementation of your industrial wireless network.
Other considerations include the type of mobile client that will be used in the application and how it will “roam” between base radios in the wireless network. When an open protocol application such as WiFi, where there are many different types of potential mobile clients, is in use, designing an overlapping wireless coverage may be required.
Once the design is complete, the testing phase presents its own set of challenges. One key when testing for reliable coverage is understanding that wireless communication goes in both directions from the mobile client and from the base radio (Access Point).
A very common mistake when testing is to set up a high-power Access Point such as the ESTeem Horizon 2.4 GHz radio and then simply walk around and monitor the signal level provided to the mobile client. But this method only tells you how much signal the mobile client receives from the Access Point – not how much signal is returning TO the Access Point.
The importance of measuring both signal levels becomes clear once you understand one crucial difference: the 1-Watt output level of the ESTeem Access Point will travel much further than the lower-power client device, which is usually about 100mWatts (0.100 Watts) of transmit power. Monitoring the signal level at BOTH sides of the system when testing is the only way to design a reliable communication network.
To recap, some of the important considerations when designing and testing a mobile industrial wireless network include:
- Identifying the necessary coverage area
- Using the proper software
- Defining how the mobile device will “roam” the network
- Testing signal levels at both ends of the system
As we have addressed in many of our previous blog posts, designing reliable wireless communication is not difficult, but you have to understand the basics of operation to be able to implement a successful network.
Wireless communication is all that ESTeem does, and we are here to help. Contact us today for the assistance you need.