How Wi-Fi 6 makes a difference
The latest WLAN standard not only makes your applications faster and future-proof, but also more efficient. However, standard Wi-Fi 6 alone is not enough for industrial requirements. Only with highly reliable hardware and software, specially developed for applications in the industrial environment, can you exploit the full potential. How does this work and what innovations does Industrial Wireless LAN offer? - Find out here!
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.
Next-Gen networks in industrial automation
Today’s industrial automation solutions are experiencing a rapid increase in the number of sensors and hand-held devices needed to support the traditional priorities of safety, productivity, monitoring, and control. These sensors and devices are delivering increasing amounts of critical data simultaneously, with a requirement for higher throughput than in the past. The wireless data networks that support industrial automation must manage those diverse, high speed data sources with greater energy efficiency and tighter cybersecurity than previously available. Download our Whitepaper below to learn more.
The first update to WLAN standards in a decade was completed recently. IEEE 802.11ax - better known as Wi-Fi 6 - offers a number of benefits over the previous standard.
- More bandwidth and capacity - Wi-Fi 6 uses existing 5GHz spectrum and allows channels to be made 160MHz wide, allowing larger amounts of data to be sent and received in the same timeframe. Additionally, AP to multiple client communications can occur simultaneously, which supports more Wi-Fi users at one time and reduces latency as more devices connect.
- Greater speed and efficient coding - In addition to greater theoretical speeds, Wi-Fi 6 achieves higher overall data rates by more efficiently packing data in the existing communications. This is most importantly realized for applications with many connected wireless clients. Instead of the network becoming slower and bogging down, Wi-Fi 6 can better organize the data to be sent, resulting in higher performance and greater speed.
- Security - Wi-Fi 6 supports the latest wireless security mechanism called WPA3. WPA3 makes it more difficult for hackers by protecting against brute force attacks, not allowing them to obtain useful data from management frames, and preventing the illegitimate reauthorization of clients.
The advances being made in the digitalization of industry would be impossible without state-of-the-art wireless communications technology like Wi-Fi 6. Siemens Industrial Wireless LAN, or IWLAN, products are designed to provide businesses with the infrastructure necessary for efficient data exchange via Wi-Fi 6.
1. Transportation Systems - Using industrial Parallel Redundancy Protocol (iPRP), Siemens IWLAN makes it possible to use two parallel radio links in wireless network design. This ensures reliable connections between rail depots and stationary trains. By setting up an IWLAN connection along the entire route, critical train control and signaling data can be transmitted wirelessly, along with multi-media content for onboard passengers.
2. Logistics - Safe, low-maintenance IWLAN solutions are needed to drive the logistics that power storage and retrieval systems, shuttle systems and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs). Siemens IWLAN enables real-time communication specifically for mobile Clients moving freely within a field.
3. Automobile Manufacturing - Siemens IWLAN with industrial Point Coordination Function (iPFC) helps avoid costly plant downtime by ensuring maximum network availability. It also improves safety in an environments where humans and robots work closely together in crowded manufacturing areas and assembly lines.
4. Amusement Park Rides - Visitor safety is the number one priority for theme and amusement park. Trouble-free, reliable operations are critical in these environments. Siemens IWLAN allows complete wireless coverage across an array of amusement park rides. This permits features like an emergency stop function to interrupt a ride at any time if safety is ever jeopardized.
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 WUM76x-1 WLAN Client Modules, which makes it possible to switch off all the automation components on the mobile participant remotely. SCALANCE WUM76x-1 Sleep Mode reduces energy consumption in sleep mode to only 0,72 watt.
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.
What is an industrial wireless access point?
An industrial wireless access point (WAP) is a hardware device configured on a local area network (LAN). This allows wireless capable devices and wired networks to connect through a wireless standard, including Wi-Fi.
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)
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).
In order to protect plants, systems, machines and networks against cyber threats, it is necessary to implement – and continuously maintain – a holistic, state-of-the-art industrial security concept. Siemens’ products and solutions only form one element of such a concept. For more information about industrial security, please visit.