Those who remember the night of December 2, 1984, when water accidentally entered a methylisocyanate storage tank at a Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, India, will understand the importance of monitoring industrial processes. Gauges measuring temperature and pressure were known to be unreliable, so staff ignored early signs of trouble and a cloud of toxic gas rolled across the crowded working-class district. In what has been called the world’s worst industrial accident, at least 3000 died and hundreds of thousands were injured. The factory was subsequently shut down.
Clearly, reliable industrial monitoring systems are critical, and according to ABI Research senior analyst Sam Lucero, “Wireless monitoring systems increase the number of monitoring points that you can deploy. You can get more information about your processes, using fewer employees, and without having to check instrument readings manually.”
A new study from ABI Research analyzes the global market for wireless, networked industrial monitoring. Two of the leading wired industrial monitoring system vendors – Emerson and Honeywell – have introduced wireless monitoring technology, and more wireless product introductions are expected in the next few years from other vendors, as well. Furthermore, a wireless extension to the ubiquitous HART protocol, which is the basis of most industrial monitoring networks, is expected this summer, along with an ISA SP-100.11a standard expected in 2008, and “industrial-grade” ZigBee trying to gain traction.
Although this is an intrinsically cautious industry, notes Lucero, “We do expect a fairly strong growth rate, owing to the financial benefits and ease of deployment wireless technology provides. We saw about 100,000 802.15.4 chipsets going into the industrial sector in 2006; that will rise to almost five million in 2012. Some of that growth will be based on replacement of wired process monitoring nodes, some will be from an increase in total process monitoring nodes enabled by the use of wireless technology, and some will be growth due to the use of wireless technology in condition monitoring applications.”
ABI Research’s Wireless Sensor Networking (WSN) in Industrial Automation analyzes: the market opportunity for WSN in industrial deployments, detailing where it will find traction (and where it will not); the implications of the key standards efforts including Wireless HART, Sp-100.11a, and “industrial” ZigBee; the implications WSN adoption will have for the market; and the key players involved in making WSN a reality in industrial automation. It forms part of two ABI Research Services, M2M and Short-Range Wireless.
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