Industrial wireless blackout risk

Posted On 16 Apr 2014
Comment: Off

GAMBICA, the trade body for instrumentation, control, automation and laboratory technology industry, has asked for the harmonisation of the new EN62657-2 industrial wireless co-existence standard, which otherwise could lead to a major industrial wireless failure. With the intention of preserving bandwidth, the telecommunications industry has written a harmonised standard that does not allow industrial wireless control systems to function. The European Telecommunications Standard Institute (ETSI) is now blocking the harmonisation of a European standard, which facilitates co-existence management of industrial communication networks under the R&TTE directive. This restriction is likely to make Europe lose significant competitive ground in the industrial wireless field. ETSI is officially recognised by the European Union as a European Standards Organisation and has written the harmonised standard: EN 300 328 V1.8.1, a standard that amends the existing rules for all devices using the publicly available radio band. The band includes millions of devices using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Zigbee technologies. This means it will have a major impact on manufacturers from all sectors once it comes into force, on January 1, 2015. It is a harmonised EN standard covering the essential requirements of article 3.2 of the R&TTE Directive, which states that” in addition, radio equipment shall be so constructed that it effectively uses the spectrum allocated to terrestrial/space radio communication and orbital resources so as to avoid harmful interference.” ” With the intention of effectively using the spectrum, the telecommunications industry has produced a harmonised standard, which does not allow industrial wireless control systems to function,” explains Andrew Evans, technical executive at GAMBICA.” The problem with the standard is that it introduces the concept of Listen Before Talk (LBT). LBT requires each radio device to first check whether another device is transmitting, in which case it must hold back until the channel is free. This causes random and unpredictable communication delays. The entire idea is simply nonviable. At times of heavy use, the result is ‘graceful degradation of service’. Unfortunately, the real problem for an industrial site is that key wireless devices can never be relied upon to report their alarm or status messages in a timely fashion.” Industry has tried to work with ETSI by submitting comments on the revision of EN300328 V1.8.1 including suggestions for exemption or optional use of LBT within defined industrial automation areas. These solutions have not been included in the new revision of the standard. V1.8.1. Industry has also worked hard via technical committee SC65C to develop an IEC standard: 62657-2 (2013)” Industrial Communication Networks – Wireless Communication Networks – Pt 2: Coexistence Management”. This has been voted positively by CENELEC to become EN62657-2, but the harmonisation of this standard under the R&TTE directive has been blocked by ETSI. GAMBICA is urging all member companies providing industrial wireless equipment, or whose services rely on these systems, to contact their UK trade association or other organisations on the continent. It feels the industry needs to make further efforts to explain the possible consequences of LBT to the European Commission and call for the harmonisation of EN62657-2 under the R&TTE directive as soon as possible.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.