Industrial wireless link closes in on wired reliability

June 17, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Belden is claiming to be the first supplier to deliver “near wired” reliability for industrial wireless devices using Parallel Redundancy Protocol; its Hirschmann HiLCOS 8.9 firmware significantly improves wireless message transmission dependability, the company says.

Hirschmann HiLCOS 8.9 is the latest version of Belden's WLAN firmware to manage its line of OpenBAT industrial wireless devices. This release is the first industrial wireless application of integrated Parallel Redundancy Protocol (PRP) technology, a new industry standard that allows systems to overcome network failures without affecting data transmission. Wireless technology can be reliably used for mission-critical industrial applications where distances or environments make wired solutions expensive or challenging, Belden says.

The company explains, “Although relatively new, PRP technology is already used in wired applications. However, it is totally new for a wireless access point. With the use of PRP we can increase the reliability of a wireless connection and/or network significantly. In fact, tests prove that we can come close to the reliability of a wired connection.”

The key benefit of PRP inside Hirschmann’s BAT products such as wireless access points, clients and bridges is a significant increase in reliability. PRP offers zero failover with two redundant networks. By doubling the packets, there is no data loss if one packet fails, as either the faster packet or the second packet gets through with a functioning second network.

HiLCOS 8.9 firmware includes opportunistic key caching for fast authentication between several access points in a network – known as “fast roaming” - where the access points are under common administrative control. The software offers extensive management, redundancy and security functions.