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Is future plant success down to wireless technology?

Posting in Education

Frost & Sullivan says that the increasing demand for operational mobility and flexibility will drive industrial wireless devices adoption.

The American research firm says that since wireless technology was originally launched in the manufacturing industry, it is no longer simply wire replacement, but now wireless devices are seen as a "critical part of plant optimization processes."

Frost & Sullivan's new report, "Analysis of Wireless Devices in European Industrial Automation Market", found that the market for this technology earned revenues of $218 million in 2011, and it is estimated to reach $539.5 million in 2016.

"Wireless devices reduce maintenance costs, boost productivity and improve quality of production," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Anna Mazurek . "At the same time, initial implementation does not require vast restructuring or expensive machinery replacement. This combination of plant optimization, quick return on investment and easy installation is highlighting the benefits of industrial wireless automation."

In order to keep plants monitored properly -- from equipment status to worker allocation -- wireless technology and mobile devices are a way to keep employees informed, as well as give them an easy communication channel. Real-time data is especially crucial in scenarios where a plant is failing.

However, Frost & Sullivan argues that wireless devices are still seen as a "non-critical" component of running a plant -- as managers still rely on wire connections that are likely to last another decade. In addition, the firm believes that plant owners do not see wireless technology as a means to improve production processes.

"End users need to realize that wireless technology not only replaces wires but has the potential to reshape and optimize production process," remarks Mazurek. "Vendor efforts to promote the technology have fallen short, particularly among the more reluctant potential wireless adopters."

Mazurek thinks that education may be key to altering this trend, as wireless devices manufacturers are not teaching end users about the full range of benefits on offer. Most importantly, users need to know how wireless technology can be tailored for particular needs in the industrial sector.

Image credit: Flickr

— By on October 17, 2012, 8:30 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure