PI (PROFIBUS & PROFINET International) – the group leading manufacturing automation connectivity standards, has announced that having completed an investigation of the different wireless options, they are moving forward with the Bluetooth standard for their radio technology.
The announcement is part of a growing chorus of acceptance for Bluetooth technology, as its maturity, robustness to interference and interoperability propels it into a diverse range of applications where reliability is critical.
According to their press release, PI’s investigations identified a series of different requirements for coupling sensors and actuators in factory and process automation. These could not be met with their existing IEEE 802.15.4 radios, used for Wireless HART, hence their decision to adopt the 802.15.1 standard currently used by WISA (wireless interface for sensors and actuators).
IEEE 802.15.1 is the early Version 1.1 of Bluetooth, which was shared with the IEEE. Since its adoption, the Bluetooth SIG has significantly improved its performance and reliability by adding Adaptive Frequency Hopping and enhanced security features, which will make it even more attractive in the factory automation market.
Coexistence is an important consideration in PI’s decision. The Bluetooth community has worked to ensure that it supports coexistence with other key technologies, such as 802.11 wireless LANs. The recent Version 3.0 release of the Bluetooth specification illustrates this by supporting the combination of Bluetooth and 802.11 technology.
An added advantage that will come from this decision by PI is that it allows the integration of the forthcoming Bluetooth low energy standard (previously known as Wibree). This allows ultra-low power sensors to be developed and integrated into a Bluetooth manufacturing automation environment. For factory managers and engineers it will allow self-powered or battery powered sensors to be located on inaccessible or moving equipment to provide even more data for machine control. The Bluetooth low energy standard is expected to be completed in Q4 of 2009 and a range of leading silicon vendors recently announced the availability of chipsets to support it.
This announcement gives further support to Bluetooth as the radio of choice for automation and high reliability applications.