Home > Business & Strategy, Unified Communications (IPT) > It is Possible: VoIP Solutions for Industrial Applications

It is Possible: VoIP Solutions for Industrial Applications

November 8, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Managers in charge of maintaining industrial automation systems increasingly are considering the advantages of converging voice and data communications onto a single, packet-switched network using devices like VoIP gateways. 

Upgrading to this type of setup is appealing over the long-term because it means less hardware to purchase and upkeep. Plus, there’s the advantage of new, friendlier features for users ranging from executive management to field operators.

For companies in the manufacturing, control engineering and heavy industry sectors, though, moving to converged communications networks presents dual challenges that must be addressed before the advantages of new this new technology can be embraced. 

The first of these challenges is ensuring that mission-critical legacy applications are preserved. Meters, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), remote terminal units (RTUs) and similar devices usually rely on narrowband, synchronous and asynchronous technologies like V.24/EIA-232 and V.35. It can be very expensive—sometimes prohibitively so—to replace these with Ethernet-ready alternatives.

The second challenge is that packet-based communication equipment tends to be designed for operation in climate-controlled settings. Installation sites for industrial operations (e.g. offshore oil rigs, deserts, arctic regions) may be hostile to this equipment. Protecting the equipment against extreme temperatures, dust and dirt, corrosive chemicals, seawater, wind and other harsh environmental conditions can be very expensive.

These challenge need not eliminate converged communications as an option for the industrial sector, though. In a recently published white paper, VoIP gateway company Patton Technologies, explains how new communications technology can be affordably adapted to suit the needs of industrial applications.

Deploying converged communications technology for industrial customers, Patton says, requires that providers have expertise in multiple domains—including legacy and new telecom technologies. 

“This domain knowledge must be combined with expertise in synchronous and asynchronous data communications protocols and practices,” Patton notes in the white paper. “Manufacturing capability of hardened industrial enclosures is also needed, in addition to knowledge of and compliance with NEMA standards.”

Patton’s white paper includes a case study showing how expertise in these different areas can be, and has been, put to use deploying converged communications for industrial customers. The case study involves installation of an all-IP transport network on an offshore oil rig, using VoIP gateways and other products and solutions as part of an integrated solution.

The white paper also explores in more depth the flexibility of VoIP gateways and converged communication networks, and environmental requirements inherent in the NEMA IV standard.

Learn more about converged communications for industrial applications by reading Patton’s full whitepaper on the topic. Also, check out the company’s TMCnet.com channel, VoIP Gateways.
Originally posted at: http://www.tmcnet.com/enews/e-newsletters/Internet-Telephony/20101102/113223-it-possible-voip-solutions-industrial-applications.htm

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