Engineered Systems Magazine

Controllers

April 22, 2009

Opto 22, has developed a distinctive offering for the automation industry by providing both wireless and wired Ethernet networking options on its standard SNAP PAC programmable automation controllers (PACs) and I/O systems. Now, using wireless for programmable automation controllers and I/O is as easy as it is for PCs and laptop computers, says the company, rather than the hodgepodge of proprietary and incompatible technologies typically found in the industrial automation industry today.

Wireless local area networking (WLAN) capabilities have been added to all of Opto 22's Ethernet-based SNAP PAC System components, including its full line of intelligent SNAP I/O processors ("brains") and all standalone and rack-mounted programmable automation controllers (SNAP PACs). Control system designers can now architect systems with traditional Ethernet wiring, Wi-Fi, or any combination of the two.

Opto 22's wireless technology in the SNAP PAC devices is based upon the industry-standard IEEE-802.11 specification with support for a, b, and g networks operating in the license-free 5 GHz (802.11a) and 2.4 GHz (802.11b/g) frequency bands. In this way, the controllers and I/O brains can be used in the most common wireless infrastructures deployed in the world today. Wireless access points, wireless routers, and wireless repeaters from nearly any vendor can co-exist with SNAP PAC wireless technology. The 5 GHz (802.11a) option is particularly significant-and unique in industrial I/O systems-because it allows users to deploy SNAP PAC wireless in a frequency other than the typically crowded 2.4 GHz band, where interference from other 2.4 GHz devices, such as microwave ovens, could reduce performance.

Security is provided via the latest and most secure transmission algorithms-including WPA (TKIP) and WPA2 (802.11i/AES)-to help build the robust and secure wireless communications system typically required for any wireless implementation today. In addition, SNAP PAC wireless supports either infrastructure mode, where communication among devices is routed through an access point, or ad hoc mode, where each device can detect and communicate with any other similarly configured network device within range.

These wireless capabilities provide numerous benefits to users, beginning with the significant savings achieved through the reduction in wiring and termination costs. Wireless networking also makes it possible to deploy I/O and controllers in remote areas, areas that are inaccessible, or areas where network wiring is difficult or impossible to install.

Opto 22's SNAP PAC controllers and I/O brains give users both wired and wireless at any time. They can network their components via standard wired Ethernet, use 802.11a/b/g for wireless networking, or use a combination of both. More importantly, Opto 22's full line of SNAP analog, digital, and serial I/O modules is fully supported in both wired and wireless mode-simplifying the specifying of I/O and significantly reducing spares. Also, all the standard industrial protocols currently supported by the existing Ethernet interface are fully supported over wireless as well, including OptoMMP, Modbus®/TCP, ODVA's EtherNet/IP(tm), FTP, SNMP, SMTP, and more.

Availability and pricing for SNAP PACs and SNAP I/O with wireless networking expected in summer 2009.

For more information about Opto 22's new wireless technology, and to download the "Overcoming Concerns about Wireless PACs and I/O in Industrial Automation" white paper, visit: http://www.opto22.com/ad/wired_wireless_IO.aspx.

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