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Wireless Networking Products

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If your idea of asking for directions is talking to Siri then wireless technology may be second nature to you. If you still prefer finding your way by pulling out your trusty folding map or stopping at a gas station, then wireless technology may still be a bit uncomfortable for you especially when putting it in an industrial environment. Times are changing quickly and the acceptance of wireless technology grows daily.

So you have a project where you need to get some information (sensor readings, video, alarms, etc) from one side of you facility to the other. Twenty years ago you would install some new cable tray or dig a trench and it could be very pricey. Now we have wireless as an option but there are various technologies. Which one is right for your application? Below we’ll take a quick look at the options.

Wireless can be broken down into two types: public and proprietary

In a proprietary system, such as frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS), the wireless modules must all belong to the same platform from the same manufacturer. Products from each manufacturer communicate differently and have differentiating features from one another. A proprietary system creates an inherent level of security since a hacker can’t add any old module to the wireless network.

With a public system (such as Wi-Fi at Starbucks), users can generally intermix wireless modules from different manufacturers.

Next you need to decide the industrial protocol to be used — Modbus, Ethernet/IP, etc. The way you plan on implementing the protocol over the wireless network could help determine which wireless technology is the best fit.

Before purchasing any wireless network it is a great idea to test it. Your area may look free of obstructions, but you never know until you do a trial. Most manufacturers have a demo set that makes it easy not just to see that signals make it from one side to the other but you can also see the strength of the signal which may help determine the technology of choice.

What about security?

While wireless presents special challenges, there are several ways to increase security. First, make sure the equipment is located in a physically secure area. Put locks on the panel doors, and limiting access to only approved personnel. Next, change the default login information to the Web-based management of the wireless module if applicable. Not changing the default login makes for easy access by just reading the user manual.

If a proprietary wireless technology will work for you, this adds a level of protection since it restricts the devices on the network to single manufacturer’s wireless platform. Gaining access to the network requires knowledge of the platform and module you are using.

Finally you can turn on the over-the-air encryption. Using the WPA2-AES level of security is considered “un-hackable” by today’s standards. When setting up security you should always choose the highest level of encryption available so you have the most secure system.

Interested in learning more about how Cross company can help your operation? Contact us today to discuss your project or application with a Cross team member.

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Did you know… Cross Company is an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). Our ESOP started in 1979 and as of 2006, we are 100% employee-owned! Learn more about our ESOP and how that benefits both team members and our customers.
Did you know... the precision measurement group at Cross was founded in 1939 by our current CEO's grandfather, Jim King. That's a whole lot of calibration!
Did you know... A fingerprint weighs about 50 micrograms. We know, we weighed it! The residue left from a finger can actually make a difference in weight results which is why we wear gloves when we calibrate weights. For reference, a sheet of paper is about 4.5 grams, that’s 4.5 million micrograms.
Did you know… Cross Company has grown significantly since our start in 1954. Over the years we've acquired 26 companies! Today, our five groups have expertise in everything from industrial automation to precision measurement, and industry knowledge going all the way back to 1939.