September 2006
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Wireless standard has legs

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The ISA-SP100 Wireless Systems for Automation committee meeting completed a third day of proposals for technological solutions to fulfill the committee’s mission to create a wireless manufacturing and control system standard.

There have been 21 proposals as of close of business Wednesday. There are two more presentations on Thursday, after which panel discussions commence.

ISA-SP100 co-chair Wayne Manges was upbeat about the progress thus far. “I and others are impressed primarily by the unexpected commonality in approaches offered,” he declared. “Even the areas of disagreement are sufficiently ‘down in the details’ such that the general direction of the ultimate outcome is fairly easy to project. Since the committee is here to gather material, technologies, and concepts for inclusion in either the SP100.11 or SP100.14 standards, this is a welcome surprise.”

“The quality of the proposals shows tremendous expertise and effort,” added Manges.

As to what is to follow, Manges said, “The SP100 leadership will gather the material together and decide where it makes sense for the organizations who have contributed here to be encouraged to combine efforts and strengthen their offerings. We’ll focus on the areas of disagreement and what details may have been omitted or short changed.”

Eventually the standard will apply to and include:

Here, briefly, are Wednesday’s proposals:

  1. Certicom Research’s proposal to ISA-SP100 addressed security for ad hoc wireless networks. The company gave the operational definitions of networks as opposed to ad hoc wireless networks, the company’s security model, its security architectural elements, the cryptographic protocols, pre-operational usage, and the IP issues involved.

  2. Siemens’ scheme for the standard would use meshed networking (TDMA) with high performance capability, frequency agility, using IEEE 802.15.4 on 2.4 GHz Band while coexisting with IEEE 802.11, a wireless backbone based on IEEE 802.11 and IEC 61784-2, CP 3/4 (PROFInet Conformance Class A wireless). There is a plan for security.

  3. Apprion’s proposal covered many aspects of standards development and this standard in particular. The summary slide listed the company’s thoughts as bullets in industrial settings: complicated set of wireless apps with networks of networks, network-centric view of the integrated facility (legacy and new), compliance with DHS activities, wireless field device PHY/MAC definitions, common management framework, gateway-level system interoperability, vendor-neutrality and performance variations across products requires secure tunneling, other features, congestion management, conformance testing - metrics, no single point failures in system architecture, and direct integration with end users.

  4. Crossbow’s version involves its product MoteWorks that includes XMESH & XSERVE, the benefits of which include and relate to: proven, reliable, low power mesh network platform; committed to viable standards for wireless sensor networks; Crossbow leads ZigBee WSN profile group; pleased with scope of SP100 and participating; complete software platform for sensor nodes and gateway devices; efficient network provisioning and management through over-the-air-programming; open and flexible software development kit and APIs; and easy to use graphical user interface for non-programmers.

  5. General Electric Global Research’s two presentations talked about its proposal for the SP100.14 and the SP100.11 architectures and also for its wireless sensor network security.

  6. Nanotran Technologies’ proposal uses IEEE 802.15.4-2006 as amended by 802.15.4a, except that it is to allow 2.4 GHz CSS for ranging.

Visit www.isa.org for more information.

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