A wireless industrial network saves money and lowers risk for companies in all types of industries. The most significant cost savings come from streamlined installations, especially for existing facilities. A wired network adds costs by requiring more labor and materials during installation.
For example, facilities installing a wired network must dig trenches, lay conduit and pull wire. In some applications, conduit runs can span over a mile. The installation costs involved in laying extensive wiring can reach several hundred thousand dollars.
Even for above-ground installations of wired networks, cost savings aren’t substantially lowered. All wired networks, regardless of location, are more labor-intensive and require investments in added materials.
Maintenance and Flexibility Increase Cost Savings
In addition to installation savings, an industrial wireless network requires less maintenance. Without wires and cables, a facility has far fewer components that can become damaged. Physical wiring is vulnerable to many hazards, including natural disasters, power spikes, daily plant operations and new construction projects. By eliminating a physical wire infrastructure, companies remove the risk of damage and all associated maintenance costs.
Wires and cables also endure wear and tear. When connected to moving components, physical wiring can break down over time. In addition, climate changes and corrosion can negatively impact wiring.
Based on the inherent nature of the technology, a wireless industrial network provides enhanced flexibility. For example, additional devices can be added to the network quickly and easily. Adding devices to a wired network is more costly and laborious.
The location of equipment no longer becomes an issue with a wireless mesh network. Plants can install office equipment, such as printers, conveniently, easily and at a reduced cost compared to wired networks. These savings from greater flexibility add up considerably over time.
A wireless industrial network also saves money on design projects. When no physical wiring and cabling infrastructure is installed, engineers won’t have to refer to detailed schematics and blueprints. The location of numerous components, such as the conduit, junction boxes and interface panels, does not need to be determined and accommodated.
Operational Savings from a Wireless Industrial Network
Although installation savings from a wireless industrial network are noteworthy and obvious, operations savings are realized as well. Manufacturing facilities regularly replace cabling, sometimes on a monthly basis. However, wireless technology may require equipment replacement every few years instead.
This increased reliability saves on maintenance costs, but also allows a facility to operate with high availability. In other words, downtime because of cabling failures is drastically reduced. Increased plant availability often translates into six-figure costs savings. And, components in the wireless network can be easily added, replaced or modified as needed.
In addition, an industrial wireless network can reduce the need for specialized maintenance engineers. Because fewer mechanical operations are involved in a wireless network, the number of maintenance personnel is decreased. A plant can reduce the dependence on expensive controls engineers for faults and can instead delegate issues to local technicians.
Safety Improvements with a Wireless Industrial Network
Wired networks require more involved electrical components, including electrical panels. These panels involve high voltage that can be subjected to water and other dangerous conditions. Wireless networks eliminate the need for workers to access panels and be exposed to live wiring.
With nothing more important than employee safety, a wireless network provides a meaningful solution. Combined with significant cost savings, greater flexibility, increased reliability and improved operations, wireless technology in industrial facilities becomes a practical choice.