The next-generation WLAN infrastructureWi-Fi 6 offers many benefits, and these are further supplemented by additional functions thanks to Siemens’ iFeatures. They include higher data rates, more efficient data transmission, and future viability in industrial communication. With the right SCALANCE W Access Points and Client Modules working together optimally, you can get started immediately.
The goal of the IEEE 802.11ax WLAN standard for industrial wireless LAN communication is to increase data throughput per device. This makes it possible to handle the growing number of mobile devices connected via WLAN and increase efficiency in environments with large numbers of participants. Additional device-specific improvements like Digital I/O in combination with Sleep Mode, for example, improve the efficiency of battery-powered applications like automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and mobile end devices.
Thanks to the higher performance of WLAN communication, new applications are enabled, such as augmented reality for assisted work, including remotely, as well as remote-controlled cranes, autonomous intralogistics, and much more.
Wi-Fi 6 in industryIEEE 802.11ax is a WLAN standard marketed as Wi-Fi 6 by the Wi-Fi Alliance. Siemens has combined and supplemented the benefits of this standard with industry-specific requirements, so that you can already take advantage of the new standard for your industrial applications.
New type of WLAN data transmission
The greatest benefit of IEEE 802.11ax is OFDMA (orthogonal frequency-division multiple access), a completely new type of data transmission for WLAN that is already being used in mobile wireless communication technology. Until now, only one participant could communicate at a time.
OFDMA divides the communication channel into up to nine subchannels that can be distributed among different participants. This allows more users to be served within a shorter time period, smaller data packets to be more efficiently transmitted, and a better quality-of-service mechanism to be implemented.
iFeature for redundancy via WLAN
Redundancy via WLAN is an extremely important requirement that is met by Siemens’ additional industrial function iPRP.
iPRP is relevant for applications that require an especially robust and fail-safe data connection. In this case, an interruption of the transmission path must not result in the connection being broken or switched to a safe state. It must instead continue to function, because a failure in data communication would cause risks or outages.
Sleep Mode for automated guided vehicles (AGVs)
How can you optimize the energy consumption of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs)?
With the aid of Wi-Fi 6, you can deactivate mobile participants that are not in use – for example, over the weekend. This allows you to avoid having to recharge the battery when operation is resumed. This is made possible by the digital output on the SCALANCE WUM766-1 WLAN Client Module, which makes it possible to switch off all the automation components on the mobile participant remotely. SCALANCE WUM766-1 Sleep Mode reduces energy consumption in sleep mode to almost 0 watts.
Redundant transmission of a train’s trip and control data
Redundancy is especially important when a train’s driving and control data is transmitted to an operation control center. It’s made possible by the SCALANCE WAM766-1 EEC Access Point, which has railway approval, and by the iPRP iFeature with packet duplication based on PRP.
Two virtually separated networks are set up based on a single physical infrastructure with a ring redundancy option in order to enable uninterruptible communication through synchronized roaming. This solution can be used both on board trains and along the tracks. It reduces hardware expenditure because only one physical infrastructure has to be installed, and still enables redundant data transmission.
Robust and long-lasting hardware, special approvals, and service
- The life cycle of industrial Wi-Fi 6 is considerably longer since industrial cycles are longer term than for home or office use regarding investment planning. The devices with the respective technologies are available on the market long-term.
- The hardware for industrial Wi-Fi 6 solutions is considerably more robust compared to standard WLAN solutions – and thus optimally suited for demanding environmental conditions (e.g., higher temperature range, high IP protection class with increased protection against water and dust, conformal coating, etc.).
- Wi-Fi 6 for industry offers special approvals and certifications that are required for the use in an industrial environment. This also applies to special fields of application with, for example, railway approvals for applications in the rail environment or ATEX certifications for potentially explosive areas (ATEX).
- The industrial Wi-Fi 6 products from Siemens possess international wireless approvals for worldwide use.
- Siemens offers both technical and logistical support – internationally.
Software (see also questions 2 + 3)
- Wi-Fi 6 for industry makes possible a flexible, low effort scalability of wireless networks in an industrial environment. For example, through the integration into network management systems (such as SINEC NMS), several WLAN components in the network can be centrally commissioned, configured, monitored, and diagnosed.
- Industrial Wi-Fi also offers expanded optimization options for WLAN parameters, e.g., roaming optimization, channel selection, adjustable channel width, retries, etc.
- In addition, industrial Wi-Fi 6 solutions from Siemens also cover a comprehensive IT feature set, e.g., VLAN, 802.1x, NAT, etc., which ensures a smooth integration into existing industrial networks.
- Wi-Fi 6 components from Siemens meet the highest standards, e.g., they are TÜV-certified, and the secure development process is carried out in accordance with the security standard IEC 62443.
- In contrast to standard Wi-Fi 6 offerings, industrial Wi-Fi 6 solutions from Siemens possess so-called iFeatures – special additional functions for industry, e.g., for redundancy over WLAN.
iFeatures are software-based additional functions that have been specifically developed for the special requirements of industry. Even though Wi-Fi 6 offers numerous improvements over previous WLAN technologies, additional features are needed for industry that go beyond the standard. In focus are, for example:
- Real-time communication for guided applications using RCoax systems, including Safety Integrated for critical safety applications over WLAN (iPCF)
- High scalability in terms of the number of participants and the spatial size of the application, e.g., for fleets with automated guided vehicles (AGVs), including Safety Integrated (iPCF-MC)
- Redundancy and increased availability via wireless WLAN communication (iPRP)
Further detailed information on the iFeatures can be found here.
Upon market entry, IEEE 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) devices will support iPRP for redundancy over WLAN.
IEEE 802.11n devices, on the other hand, also offer the iFeatures iPCF and iPCF-MC. These enable real-time communication, including Safety Integrated concepts, which standard Wi-Fi 6 products without additional industrial functions do not support.
That is why the IEEE 802.11n portfolio (SCALANCE W788/ W774/ W761) still offers better performance for these applications for the time being.
Wi-Fi 6 has the same range as the previous standards since the same frequencies with the same permitted transmission power are used. Both existing plans from the past and the existing accessories, e.g., antennas, can be used. No Wi-Fi 6-specific antenna portfolio is thus required. There are no additional acquisition costs.
Note: Spatial Re-Use/ BSS Coloring are not yet to be considered in planning, because these can only have full impact in pure Wi-Fi 6 environments. Within the next few years, we do not see a significant advantage here in 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.
WLAN with iFeatures and Wi-Fi 6 already enable a wide range of use cases, e.g., connection of mobile participants to series machines, overhead monorails and thruster platforms in the automotive environment, automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and shuttle systems in intralogistics area, train-to-ground communication or passenger service in the transportation industry, and many more.
If you are not sure whether a wireless solution makes sense for your application and/or whether WLAN can be the right technology for your requirements, please do not hesitate to contact us:
For the specific implementation, we support you with our partners and Professional Services – from planning to final commissioning.
SCALANCE W Access Points and Client Modules for Wi-Fi 6
SCALANCE W Access Points and Client Modules are available that use the new Wi-Fi 6 WLAN standard for industrial communication. They permit the optimal implementation of numerous challenging applications with a very large number of clients as well as increased data rates per client.
Siemens also supplements Wi-Fi 6 technology with iFeatures for highly available, redundant applications (in the future, high-performance real-time capability will also be included). For you, this means investment protection. The SCALANCE family guarantees the future-proof implementation of flexible wireless applications according to the latest IEEE 802.11ax standard (Wi-Fi 6).