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The Wi-fi Refinery – Cisco Blogs

Pattern Overview

Wi-fi expertise has been a important a part of each refinery for years. Nonetheless, selecting which sort of wi-fi system to deploy has turn out to be extra advanced with the alternatives of Wifi, LTE, WiHart, ISA100 and a number of mounted wi-fi or mesh choices. This doc will place every of those applied sciences for his or her most respected use circumstances so that you simply’re not annoyed by utilizing the mistaken device for the job you might have.

Wifi Beginnings

The wi-fi expertise that’s most generally deployed in refineries right now is Wifi. It’s a pure selection as a result of so lots of the units we use daily rely upon Wifi for connection. This works nicely for all IT and OT functions like workflow administration, asset administration, and lots of extra. As management system parts and measurement units began to go wi-fi, most of those are produced with Wifi radios inbuilt.

Wifi is comparatively cheap and doesn’t require any particular spectrum license to function. This makes it simple to deploy initially, however we’ve seen a number of challenges begin to emerge. As a result of Wifi is considerably affected by RF noise and huge metallic objects, the reliability of wifi in a refinery may be unpredictable and protection may be costly.

These two necessities of protection and reliability begin to push refinery operators towards different wi-fi applied sciences and that is what we’ll talk about subsequent.

Industrial Wi-fi for Reliability

The management system world acknowledged these challenges with the Wifi customary. Due to this, two related wi-fi requirements have emerged that particularly serve the management system world. The primary is WirelessHART which operates at 2.4GHz (identical as preliminary Wifi requirements) and has resiliency inbuilt to make sure the reliability of management system flows. The second is a broader business customary set out by the Worldwide Normal for Automation (ISA) underneath the ISA100 committee. Each of those requirements are broadly used for industrial wi-fi communication and connecting sensors and actuators to regulate system infrastructure. Honeywell and Emerson have each partnered with Cisco to deploy these as a part of an built-in wi-fi infrastructure.

LTE for Protection

As wi-fi is proving to be extra helpful, refineries are on the lookout for methods to cowl as a lot of their websites as doable. LTE and 5G have giant protection areas, work nicely for numerous units, and have average to excessive information capability relying on the character of the deployment. This appears like precisely what’s wanted. Sadly, they’re advanced techniques and get costly quick. For instance, deploying only one service supplier tower can value hundreds of thousands. Remodeling these giant techniques right into a refinery web site will not be easy and typically, websites have to aquire an working license from the communications regulator within the space. This complexity and the restricted want for brand spanking new 5G capabilities has slowed the adoption of this expertise in refineries.

LoRaWAN for IoT Sensors

LoRaWAN additionally supplies protection to giant areas and is a good match for sensors that want lengthy battery life and solely transmit small intermittent information streams. Cisco and others have packaged this expertise right into a easy service that’s simple to deploy with a rising assortment of sensors. There is no such thing as a license to aquire it and prices to deploy are very low. Even when different wi-fi applied sciences exist within the space, it might nonetheless make sense to place in a LoRaWAN system for particular use circumstances.

Business POV

Cisco is making the deployment of wi-fi techniques simpler and extra built-in into community operations. For instance they’re integrating the gateway necessities of Emerson and Honeywell into the entry level necessities of Wifi to restrict the quantity of cabling and energy infrastructure. They’re additionally simplifying the deployment of LTE and LoRaWAN with hybrid cloud administration to simplify administration with out compromising a sturdy native working surroundings within the occasion of WAN failures.


There you might have it, a whirlwind tour of the wi-fi applied sciences most typical in refineries right now. Every wi-fi expertise has an essential function in refinery operations and all wi-fi domains collectively are half of a bigger infrastructure. Cisco views all infrastructure as an built-in structure and believes that refineries need to function it that means as nicely.


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