The Wireless Platforms for Smart Manufacturing project will deliver comprehensive guidelines in the selection, deployment, and optimization of wireless technologies in manufacturing environments. Reliable and secure real-time performance of wireless platforms are challenging problems faced by manufacturers who choose wireless platforms to replace wired platforms due to their ease of installation, maintenance, and reconfigurability. Wireless technology creates enormous potential for manufacturers by increasing the monitoring and control surface of their physical processes. This potentiation for fine resolution monitoring and control also brings with it technical challenges. These challenges include the impact of the unreliable wireless environment on the ability to monitor the processes and adapt quickly. Where wireless is used for control, security, safety, and reliability become chief concerns. Current wireless technologies employed include IEEE 802.11, IEEE 802.15.4, and some proprietary protocols. The key objective for this project is to develop best-practice guidelines for evaluating and integrating wireless technologies into modern factories. The guidelines will include methodology and protocols that will enable, assess, and assure real-time performance of secure wireless platforms in "smart manufacturing" systems. These guidelines will enable manufacturers, technology providers, and solution providers to design, deploy, and assess robust, secure integrated wireless platforms. Manufacturers using wireless platforms from various providers will benefit from a standardized measurement methodology and security guidelines because they can be assured that the wireless platforms for their applications will achieve desired performance requirements and efficiency.
Objective - The Wireless Platforms for Smart Manufacturing project will deliver comprehensive guidelines in the selection, deployment, and optimization of the wireless technologies in manufacturing environments. The guidelines will be based on measurement science research to assist manufacturers in selecting and deploying wireless technologies effectively for their industrial applications.
Phase 1: This project will begin with the fundamentals of wireless technology. While effective wireless standards for wireless sensor networks such as IEEE 802.15.4 have been developed by industry, few studies focus on the impact of the industrial RF environment or the chosen wireless networking technology on plant performance. Using modern state-of-the-art RF sounding techniques, we will measure RF propagation in partner manufacturing facilities such as an automotive assembly plant or chemical manufacturing plant. We will also measure sources of RF interference and attempt to correlate those interference sources with the happenings of plant operations. This phase of the project will produce high volumes of data on the order of hundreds of gigabytes. We will post-process the raw data to produce complex-valued correlations (impulse responses) that represent the block-box propagation losses and distortions of each sounding scan. The data will be made available for download.
Phase 2: The next phase will entail the encapsulation of the RF measurement data into a convenient statistical model. Well-established models exist for RF propagation. We expect that the measurement data of phase 1 to fit within one of the many standard channel models; however, the standard models require precise parameterization to accurately characterize RF propagation in the factory. The channel models will then inform the simulations and testbed activities of subsequent phases. In addition to channel models, we will also produce packet error rate curves for various IEEE 802.15.4 receiver types. The output of this phase will include packet error rate curves and parameterized channel models.
Phase 3: Using the raw impulse response data, channel models, and packet error rate curves, we will develop detailed network simulations integrated with models of physical processes. These integrated simulations will allow us to study the impacts of the RF environment and wireless networking technologies on the performance of physical plant processes. We will focus on continuous process control as well as robotic assembly.
Phase 4: Again, using the raw impulse response data, channel models, and packet error rate curves, we will develop detailed network simulations integrated with models of physical processes. In this case, however, our network models will be realized with actual wireless networking hardware and control infrastructure representing various network and control implementations in factories. We will refer to this as our wireless testbed. The testbed will include continuous processes as well as models of high speed manufacturing processes that involve safety and feedback control over the wireless medium. Rather than abstract RF propagation and interference to packet error rate curves, we will recreate the factory RF environment using an RF channel emulator. The RF emulator is a black box that introduces RF amplitude, phase, and delay distortions by applying a high-speed digital tapped-delay filter to RF transmissions on a link-by-link basis. In addition to process control and common time-scale robotics, an additional goal is to fabricate a testbed for high speed manufacturing to study the effects of wireless networking on precision time synchronization in the industrial environment.
Phase 5: In collaboration with universities and industry partners, we will produce a document such as a NIST special publication that may be used by industrial operators, system integrators, and device manufacturers to support the effective use of wireless technologies in smart manufacturing systems. The document will be made freely available.
Some recent accomplishments for Wireless Platforms for Smart Manufacturing:
Start Date:October 1, 2013
Lead Organizational Unit:el
Related Programs and Projects:
Rick Candell, Project Leader
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