Friday 31 May 2013

Leading industrial communications experts dazzle!

A group of veritable who's who of industrial communications experts helped attendees at ISA’s 2013 Communications Division Symposium, held last week in Washington, D.C. (USA), sort out the maze of communications-related changes and challenges occurring in the marketplace.

Highlighted by a workshop on passive wireless sensor technologies, the symposium provided an opportunity to explore—and provide sought-after perspective on—new trends, equipment, software and protocols involved with transmitting, reporting and processing real-time data.

Delivering critical insight and facilitating a brisk exchange of questions, answers and ideas was a group of renowned subject matter experts and technical contributors comprised by: Peter Fuhr, Ph.D., scientist at the Measurement Science and Systems Engineering (MSSE) Division of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL); Wayne Manges, program manager at the ORNL; Ian Verhappen, director of Industrial Automation Networks, Inc.; Larry O’Brien, Fieldbus Foundation Global Marketing manager; Dan Sexton of RF Instrumentation and Systems Laboratory at GE Global Research; George Studor, senior project engineer for technology applications in the Structural Engineering Division at the Johnson Space Center; and Penny Chen, Ph.D., of Yokogawa Corporation of America.

Specific session topics covered at the symposium, which was sponsored by the ISA Communications Division, included industrial wireless, supervisory control and data acquisition, Smart Grid, wireless backhaul networks, fieldbuses (including the latest developments in FDT and FDI), field network troubleshooting, industrial Ethernet and cybersecurity.

The symposium also served as the venue for a meeting of the ISA100 Committee, which establishes standards, recommended practices, technical reports, and related information that define technologies and procedures for implementing wireless systems in the automation and control environment.

ISA’s third Passive Wireless Sensor Workshop, which also was held in conjunction with the symposium, brought developers, manufacturers and potential end-users together to examine passive wireless sensor technologies and their practical applications. While high costs currently limit their widespread use, passive wireless sensors deliver an attractive option for reducing dependency on wired connectivity and adding functionality without wires or cables. They have no battery, no expensive electronics at the sensor site, and no need for a wired connection between the sensor and the data acquisition system.

Donald C Malocha
The keynote speaker at workshop was Donald C. Malocha, a Pegasus-Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Malocha, a member emeritus of the Electronics Industries Association (EIA) who has authored more than 200 technical publications and been awarded 12 patents, discussed his latest research initiatives in solid-state devices, surface acoustic wave (SAW) and bulk acoustic wave (BAW) technology, sensors and wireless radio frequency identification systems.

“The workshop added significantly to the excellent set of contacts for and reference material on passive wireless sensor technology that can be used as an alternative to wired connectivity,” reports George Studor, the senior project engineer at the Johnson Space Center who specializes in in-space wireless health monitoring and inspection systems. “I believe it made all participants more aware of how wireless sensors are changing almost every aspect of our world.  We are on the verge of something very big when sensors can be ‘stamped out’ just like cell phone components, when every cell phone in the world can be used to interrogate passive sensors of all types, and when every cell phone tower can be used to collect data from tens of thousands of nodes located all over a city.”

A compilation of technical papers presented at the 2013 Communications Division Symposium will soon be available for order in CD-ROM format from ISA.

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