Since its initial introduction on the plant floor, wireless technology has evolved and so has the perception of industrial wireless among end users. Wireless devices are no longer seen solely in terms of wire replacement but, more importantly, as a critical part of plant optimisation processes.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Analysis of Wireless Devices in European Industrial Automation Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $218.0 million in 2011 and estimates this to reach $539.5 million in 2016.
Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Anna Mazurek notes: "Wireless devices reduce maintenance costs, boost productivity and improve quality of production. At the same time, initial implementation does not require vast restructuring or expensive machinery replacement. This combination of plant optimisation, quick return on investment and easy installation is highlighting the benefits of industrial wireless automation."
Industrial wireless devices optimise the working of plant equipment through better asset allocation and monitoring machine health. They support plant staff with constant data access and easy communication. Constant and instant access to real-time data also supports enhanced operational flexibility and mobility.
However, the perception of wireless devices as a non-critical improvement threatens to limit penetration levels. The technology provides end users with connections that are often already covered by wires and likely to last another decade. Moreover, plant managers do not yet perceive wireless technology as the harbinger of significant production process improvements.
Mazurek remarks: "End users need to realise that wireless technology not only replaces wires but has the potential to reshape and optimise production process. Vendor efforts to promote the technology have fallen short, particularly among the more reluctant potential wireless adopters."
Wireless devices manufacturers need to educate end users not only about basic technological features, but also on the full range of usage benefits and opportunities offered by wireless communication.
Mazurek advises: "Most importantly, end users will need to be educated on how the technology can be tailored to address their particular needs. The market needs another 4-5 years of pilot applications and technology trials to address all pending concerns about the technology performance and convince end users on the advantages of deploying industrial wireless devices."
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