Operational Advantages of Digital Process Control System Now Extend to Remote Locations via Wireless Connectivity

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New Wireless Link Module links distributed I/O systems over long distances. Modbus TCP and Modbus RTU supported by Ethernet and serial models

In a strong bid to provide process and manufacturing engineers with significantly greater process management control and functionality between geographically-divergent plants and processing points, Moore Industries-International takes a progressive step in linking distributed I/O systems and multiplexers across long-distances or normally impassable environments with the introduction of their Wireless Link Module (WLM), a bi-directional frequency hopping spread spectrum radio modem that provides wireless connectivity with the same speed and accuracy of a hard-wired process control system. The WLM provides a cost-effective, easy, and secure transmission of analog and digital process signals across the industrial environment process control system.

Plant managers and I&C engineers have long reaped the benefits of cable-concentrating technology, such as Moore Industries' NET Concentrator(R) System (NCS) process control system that simplifies the connection from plant to desk. With the recent availability of Moore Industries' Wireless Link Module, the elimination of miles of expensive point-to-point cables and wires; the migration of legacy analog transmitters, sensors and valves to new high-speed networks; and "transmitter like" accuracy and reliability now extend across long distances and rugged environments to link widely-dispersed sites in peer-to-host or peer-to-peer applications for both Ethernet and serial networks.

Moore Industries' WLM bi-directional radio modems operate in the license-free 902-928 MHz and 2.4-2.4835 GHz ISM bands, employing intelligent spectrum frequency hopping technology for excellent data integrity even in environments where the interference is high. The WLM can cover distances of up to 35 miles.

WLM models support Ethernet or serial multiplexer networks and allow user configurable operating parameters. The Ethernet and serial models also support popular Modbus TCP and Modbus RTU based process control systems. Ethernet models have an RF data rate of 188 kbps. MODBUS RTU versions run at a speed of 144kbps. Costly FCC site licenses are not required as the WLM operates in the license-free ISM band.

As a result, plant engineers are no longer limited by distance, terrain, buildings or hazardous environments when unifying their process control system. From simple plant floor monitoring to complex nets connecting remote substations, process signals can now be sent over one low-cost and unified wireless communication link without the need to lease lines or lay down expensive cabling. WLM RF links are not subjected to the same environmental factors that can hinder performance of cables, and they completely eliminate maintenance costs associated with cable replacement, rerouting, or repair.

Each WLM network includes a transmitting “master” WLM module programmed to communicate with one or multiple remote “slave” modules. Modules may also be configured as repeaters to relay signals around buildings or other obstacles when a direct line of sight does not exist, or to extend the range of the network. Configuration modes include point-to-point or point-to-multi-point. Omni or Yagi-directional antennas may be selected to provide the range need for each application.

Moore Industries' Net Concentrator System employs open protocols like Modbus RTU & TCP, and OPC to act as a universal gateway between islands of automation and the process control system. When harnessed to a WLM system, the convenience of transmitting thousands of process monitoring and control signals now extends to remote sites to meet the most demanding applications.

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Scott Saunders
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