The networks of wireless instrumentation are required to adapt to the existing environment. It is not practical to move a well head, a tank, a compressor or a separator just to create a reliable wireless link. It would be much easier to locate a 30 foot tower in the field to allow for line of sight consideration in long range SCADA networks. It might also be easier to increase the height of the tower to extend the range and avoid obstruction. Wireless instrumentation networks do not have the luxury. It is sometimes difficult to find a location for a base radio or an access point that provides reliable communication with the wireless instruments. Relocating the base radio or access point to improve the RF link with one sensor could result in degrading the links with other sensors in the same network.
Most processing plant, gas production and pipeline facilities have some level of wireless capability in place. Local wireless area networks and Backhaul point to point networks are some of the common systems deployed long range proprietary SCADA networks. Each of these networks is being used for a specific purpose such as control data transmission, video surveillance and high bandwidth communication. Operators and engineers are facing the challenge of integrating wireless instrumentation networks with other communication infrastructure that available in the field.
The wireless networks integration dilemma is more apparent in systems of SCADA. Since the networks of wireless instrumentation are supposed to tie into the same SCADA infrastructure available at site in order to relay valuable operating data to the SCADA host, having the ability to manage the complete infrastructure as one network becomes essential.
Moreover, having the ability to access hard to reach areas and gather new data points that were not viable economically before, gives the operator better visibility into the plant and process operations. However, this data has to end up somewhere in the system in order to be analyzed, monitored and leveraged. SCADA systems are designed normally to handle a certain number of data points or tags.