Researchers from Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Spain have found that 60 GHz mmWave signals can be used in industrial automation as cable replacement, setting up a record 110m link.
The study by Cristina Cano and Prof Xavier Vilajosana at the the Wireless Networks (WiNe) group at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) opens the door to the use of wireless technologies with power and reliability that are comparable to fibre optics and that could replace cables.
The research project has created the first parameterization of a mmWave signal propagation model for gigabit wireless in industrial environments. The researchers say this is the first step towards understanding how this type of signal behaves in an industrial plant and could have a significant impact on the development of Industry 4.0.
"This study is aimed at making communication less expensive and more flexible by incorporating mobile devices into the manufacturing process, something that could be very useful in moving towards Industry 4.0,” said Cano. “This allows, for example, connecting freely movable robotic arms to the production process or establishing communications for data reporting, and controlling or stopping the different components of the process in an emergency. But it could also allow the worker to be a part of the process."
"The research in this field can be applied to replace cables in the monitoring processes of production lines where very quick and reliable decisions have to be taken,” she said. “For this reason, we must be able to guarantee that when an emergency message is sent to stop the production process, it arrives in the required time and its reception is highly reliable. Otherwise, if the message is lost or arrives late, the consequences could be disastrous."
There are currently several propagation models of mmWave high-frequency signal, but none in industrial facilities.