Communication technologies are integral to various industrial applications, especially in the field. A number of solutions have been implemented to suit the varied needs of different industrial requirements.
For the past decade, industry has been moving towards using wireless communication, especially in applications that need to be implemented quickly at field sites where wired communication is costly or impossible. Wireless is often not just the best but the only solution for conquering geographical barriers.
Of the various wireless communication solutions available today, 3G is highly recommended for current industrial requirements.
Why 3G communication?
3G is the third generation of wireless telecommunications technology and services that provides data transfer rate of at least 200 kbps, with advanced 3G technologies reaching several Mbps. Recent statistics indicate that 3G networks served more than 1.5 billion subscribers in 2013, with the number of users forecast to increase to over 4 billion by 2018, making 3G technology the mainstream communication method for mobile wireless networks.
With advances in technology, base stations have become more common, data communication speed has become more acceptable, and the cost has gone down, making 3G now the most efficient solution for wireless communication.
Many industrial applications use 3G as the main media for data communication for various industrial tasks, including data acquisition, data analysis, and remote device control and monitoring.
Some examples of 3G communications in industrial applications:
Feeder Terminal Unit Communication for Smart Grids
Power plants, often located far from population centres, transmit electricity across long distances using feeder terminal units (FTU) to deliver power to consumers. These FTUs need continuous device communication to prevent the entire power grid from going down in the event of failure of even one FTU. 3G technology allows remote control centres to receive real-time notifications in the event of an FTU failure to shorten power grid recovery time and simultaneously centralise data monitoring.
Variable Messaging and Traffic Monitoring System for ITS
Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) enable drivers to receive real-time information of severe weather conditions, traffic jams, car accidents, and other warning messages from LED message boards located next to highways. By adopting 3G technology, remote sites can use wireless networks to deliver real-time traffic information to messaging systems, and simultaneously monitor remote devices used for video surveillance.
Criteria for a Reliable 3G Communication Network
Using an industrial-grade 3G gateway as the primary communication tool presents some critical challenges and requires special solutions to ensure stable and reliable operation.
Wireless architectures are often implemented outdoors, requiring the hardware used for 3G applications to have a hardened, rugged design; the devices are required to pass industrial-grade wireless certifications, such as EN 61000-6-2 and EN 61000-6-4 to ensure they can withstand higher levels of electromagnetic interference and provide a longer lifetime to achieve stable operation in harsh environments. Power surge isolation is another factor for ensuring reliable operation in outdoor cellular applications, since the devices will not be affected by unstable or sudden ground voltages.
Software reliability is critical to ensuring a stable signal connection, given that wireless applications are often implemented outdoors at remote field sites where onsite checking and maintenance can be quite costly. Even when the signal from the cellular base station is weak, the software must be able to guarantee a stable connection to avoid data loss.
Easy Device Management:
Managing remote devices for outdoor and remote 3G networks is critical and requires management tools such as remote and centralised management of devices from the control centre to reduce total cost of ownership; real-time device monitoring, debugging, and rebooting remotely; communication with private IP SIM cards over the internet using a suitable traffic proxy manager software; and multiple communication interfaces such as Ethernet, serial, and cellular for simple device communication.
Cost is always one of the key concerns when establishing an industrial application, but performance is also important, and system integrators should choose the solution that provides the best cost-to-performance ratio. Important considerations include hardware requirements, software capability, and system integration flexibility. In addition, using products with a longer warranty period can also create a longer product lifecycle.
Moxa’s OnCell G3111/G3151-HSPA Series
A 3G gateway solution with excellent price-to-performance ratio, Moxa’s OnCell G3111/G3151-HSPA series combines a hardened hardware design, smart software capabilities, and convenient device management to fulfil key criteria for a reliable and cost-effective 3G communication solution in a variety of cellular industrial applications.
Engineered with HSPA, an upload speed up to 5.76 Mbps provides the high quality needed for uninterrupted, live video streaming over cellular networks. Designed to meet industrial-grade standards, the OnCell G3111/G3151-HSPA series can withstand harsh environments and is suitable for mission-critical tasks in wireless applications.
Moxa’s cutting edge GuaranLink technology and OnCell Central Manager Software offer stable cellular connectivity, making it easy to configure, manage, and monitor remote devices on a private network over the web.
The reliability and manageability delivered by the new Moxa 3G gateway solutions not only increase wireless availability for consistent network transmission, but also reduce the operating time with easy management functions at a fair price. This optimal price-to-performance ratio makes the OnCell G3111/G3151-HSPA a versatile but affordable product that will reduce the total cost of ownership for remote site applications.