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What is ISA100 Wireless?

Learn about ISA100, what it is, how it is used, and what makes it different from other wireless networks.

Have you ever stopped to think about how data from a temperature transmitter on a vessel in a tank farm at the edge of the plant is brought into the control system?

You probably would answer: Over a pair of wires connected between the transmitter and an analog input card.

And until recently, you would be correct.

But did you really think about how those wires would be installed? Buried underground in a conduit? Run overhead in a cable tray?

In each case, environmental factors, water infiltration, electromagnetic interference, or physical damage could interrupt, destroy, or affect the accuracy and reliability of the temperature signal.

There is a better, more secure way to transmit these signals from distant, or even not so distant transmitters and devices, to the control system without having to worry about circuitous conduit routings, damage to wire from difficult cable pulls, expensive buried cable runs, or conduits and pull boxes filling with water.

Introducing ISA100 Wireless

ISA100 Wireless is an end-user driven, industry standard-based, cyber-secure, robust, wireless protocol for interfacing devices such as temperature transmitters to control systems for process monitoring and control.

ISA100 allows the user to avoid problems such as accidentally cutting wires in the field, short circuits in underground installations, and corroded terminals due to environmental contaminants.

Introducing ISA100 Wireless

You may ask, But I have a cell phone and it drops connections periodically.

My Wi-Fi at home is interrupted for no apparent reason. When I go to the basement, only a few feet away, my signal is reduced to where it is sometimes slow or unusable. 

So how can I say that ISA100 is reliable and secure?

Simple. ISA100 is not Wi-Fi, 5G, or Bluetooth; it is different than any home or commercial wireless network.

Those technologies were designed for portable, rechargeable devices that transmit a lot of data.

Your wireless smartphone plan likely is set up for 10 gigabytes of data or more each month.

A transmitter on an ISA100 wireless network may only transmit 1 or 2 megabytes of data per month, a tiny fraction of the data typically exchanged with a smartphone.

ISA100 Wireless Data Transmission

Basis of the ISA100 Wireless design

ISA100 Wireless was designed specifically for Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT, applications.

In a simple sense, think of IIoT applications as ones that replace wired devices with wireless devices, with the mode of data transmission being accomplished wirelessly instead of over a wired network.

A tank, a column, or a reactor that would traditionally use wired sensors, transmitters, and analyzers can now communicate to controllers, servers, and other devices via ISA100 Wireless.

Is ISA100 as reliable as a wired network?

Yes. ISA100 has a set of features that allow it to be used in mission-critical applications typically not supported by other wireless technologies. The ISA100 protocol was developed to provide a holistic protocol to meet the needs of industry, both now and in the future.

Basis of the ISA100 Wireless Design

ISA100 Wireless meets the current and future needs of the industry

What are the needs of industry?

Cybersecurity

– Data integrity

– Operational reliability

How does ISA100 provide for these needs?

1) ISA100 was developed by industry for industry

First, the ISA100 standard was developed by experts from over 250 companies representing end-users, technology providers, suppliers, and others.

ISA 100 Meets the Needs of Industry.

2) ISA100 supports reliable mesh networking

Secondly, ISA100 supports a mesh network, a robust architecture where nearby devices can act as local repeaters, providing multiple pathways between devices and gateways.

In a mesh network, the more devices that exist on an ISA100 network, the more pathways exist for communication, providing an added level of redundancy, reliability, and robustness.

ISA100 provides for management and network provisioning tools that allow new devices to be added to the network easily and securely.

Supporting Mesh Network.

3) ISA100 is holistically designed from the bottom up

Third, the ISA100 protocol has been designed from top to bottom to provide reliability, operability, and security.

ISA 100 is holistically designed from the bottom up.

Many other wireless protocols were adapted from other existing protocols, and although they may provide improvements over the base protocols, they cannot provide the level of reliability and security a holistically designed, ground-up design can provide.

Historical Design.

4) ISA100 Compliance Institute ensures interoperability

Fourth, vendors who supply ISA100 devices must undergo rigorous testing to verify that their devices meet the requirements of the ISA100 standard.

Certification by the ISA100 Compliance Institute ensures that a vendor’s device can interoperate with all other ISA100 compliant devices seamlessly in an ISA100 network.

Under Rigorous Testing.

ISA100 is versatile

Where would I use ISA100?

The simple answer is anywhere that wired devices are used.

With over 18 industry-leading vendors supplying ISA100-compliant devices to the marketplace, ISA100 networks can be installed for process monitoring, process control, gas detection, corrosion monitoring, steam trap health monitoring, safety systems, wellhead monitoring, and others.

Using ISA100 in Industry.

ISA100 Wireless has been used in many industries, including chemical, oil and gas, pulp and paper, pharmaceutical, mining, and renewable energy, as well as others.

Sensors to measure pH, temperature, pressure, valve position, flow, dissolved oxygen, and others are currently available for use in ISA100 networks.

New sensor designs are being introduced all the time.

Wireless Sensor Networks in ISA100

ISA100 offers a diverse range of devices

With so many ISA100-compliant devices, users have the ability to select best-of-breed products from top-tier global industry vendors and have the confidence that each can be added to an ISA100 Wireless network seamlessly and predictably.

ISA 100 Compliant Devices.

Summary

In this article, we introduced ISA100, what it is, how it is used, and what makes it different from other wireless networks. In the next part, we will illustrate a couple of use cases that used ISA100 Wireless, highlighting the benefits and advantages of using the ISA100 Wireless standard.

If you have any questions about ISA100 or industrial wireless networks in general add them in the comments below. As you know, we read each and every comment and reply to it in less than 24 hours!

Got a friend, client, or colleague who could use some of this information? Please share this article.

The RealPars Team

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