IEI: Wireless Needs Security

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 @ 03:10 PM gHale

By Gregory Hale
Wireless is continuing its growth curve throughout the manufacturing automation industry to the point where it has almost become ubiquitous, but while that march continues on, the idea of security becomes an ever more important aspect to a solution.

“When it comes to wireless you have to talk about security, said Daniel Wade, chief wireless architect at Belden during his portion of the keynote address on trends in wireless at the IEI Design Seminar in Schaumburg, IL, Tuesday. “Securing your industrial applications is critical.”

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To secure a wireless application the user needs to:
• Identify best practices
• Implement a product and configuration solution that follows best practices
• Monitor for security through industry news that gives vulnerabilities and your system for behavioral changes and deviations from best practices

When Wade looks at wireless he will characterize things in four categories and they are speed, distance, client density and power consumption.

The three trends he sees moving forward is 802.11ac, 802.11ah, and LTE-MTC.

While they may just appear to be numbers and letter strung together, they could make wireless solutions stronger, faster and more power efficient.

802.11ac is a 5Ghz only and it has improved modulation resulting in higher data rates. In short it is much faster over a shorter distance.

802.11ah is WiFi at below 1 Ghz, but its range can reach over 1KM and it can support over 8,000 clients and its power efficiency is greater.

LTE-MTC is a LTE network with Machine Type Communications. The narrowband operation supports less than 2 Mbps data rates and its power saving mode has a 10-year life on a AA battery.

When talking about wireless, it is good to see it in action and that is exactly what Shawn Adams presented during his portion of his keynote presentation.

Adams is the COO of a company called Auto Parkit and his solution uses wireless to automate parking cars without any human interaction.

Essentially, his company produces a parking solution that can take a parked car and it moves via a shuttle platform to parking spaces within a building – all by horizontal and vertical shuttle systems. The system keeps track of all cars at all times and when an owner wants his or her car they just use a fob to send a signal to the control center and the system moves to pull the car out of its parking stall and delivers it to the user within 40 to 120 seconds. All by automation.

“We are highly automated,” Adams said. “We use wireless from the shuttle and from the main control panel.”