Report: How Wi-Fi 6/6E enables Industry 4.0
The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) has published the report ‘Wi-Fi 6/6E for Industrial IoT: Enabling Wi-Fi Determinism in an IoT World’. This paper explores how Wi-Fi’s latest features are ideal for meeting the unique, demanding requirements for a wide variety of existing and emerging IIoT applications including manufacturing/Industry 4.0 and logistics, involving autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), automated ground vehicles (AGVs), predictive maintenance and augmented/virtual/mixed reality (AR/VR/MR).
For example, manufacturers are increasingly using IIoT sensors for vibration, temperature and lubricant viscosity to catch emerging equipment problems before they result in extensive, expensive downtime. Other IIoT sensors provide real-time insights about production output, inventory levels and asset locations. Wireless has become the preferred way to network these sensors because it’s faster and cheaper to deploy than copper or fibre.
“As more equipment is monitored, wiring becomes prohibitive,” the paper states. “Industry is moving towards the inclusion of wireless technologies to lessen the cost of obtaining more information about their processes. In one recent case in the oil and gas industry, moving to a wireless installation resulted in a 75% cost reduction in installation.”
Produced by the WBA’s Wi-Fi 6/6E for IIOT work group, led by Cisco, Deutsche Telekom and Intel, the white paper provides an overview of Wi-Fi 6 and 6E capabilities that are ideal for sensors and other IIoT applications, such as:
- Scheduled access (SA) enabled by trigger-based (TB) uplink (UL) orthogonal frequency domain multiple access (OFDMA) in Wi-Fi 6 provides the ability to reduce or eliminate contention and bound latency (eg, 99 percentile). This leads to increased levels of determinism applicable to all real-time and IIoT applications.
- Wi-Fi 6 provides many deterministic QoS capabilities, such as the traffic prioritisation that is a key component of time-sensitive networking (TSN) for Industry 4.0 applications.
- The fine timing measurement (FTM) protocol specified in IEEE 802.11-2016 enables time synchronisation as well as precise indoor range and position/location determination. This can be used for AMR and AGV applications such as route planning, exception handling and safety-related aspects including collision avoidance based on proximity.
- The target-wake-time (TWT) feature added to Wi-Fi 6 provides more efficient power-save and scheduling enhancement. This capability is a good fit for battery-powered IIoT nodes that need to transmit only infrequently, such as a sensor that uploads data only when a motor’s temperature exceeds a certain threshold.
- Wi-Fi 6E supports up to 1.2 GHz of spectrum, making it ideal for use cases that require both multi-Gbps throughput and determinism, such as industrial AR/VR/MR and sensor fusion.
The report also includes RF/network deployment guidelines for factory, warehouse, logistics and other use cases. For example, it provides recommendations for leveraging 802.11ax/Wi-Fi 6 scheduling capabilities to optimise traffic patterns and manage critical QoS requirements. Another example is using high-gain directional antennas to increase channel re-use rates and work around metal racks and other signal-attenuating features commonly found in warehouses.
Over three dozen vendors, service providers and other organisations participated in developing the white paper, which is available for download at https://wballiance.com/wi-fi-6-6e-for-industrial-iot-whitepaper/.
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