Networking offers industrial-grade reliability

Paul Boughton

Dust Networks, a leading provider of highly reliable, ultra-low-power embedded wireless sensor networking systems, is announcing its new Smartmesh-XT wireless sensor networking system.

Smartmesh-XT is designed to enable OEMs to deliver wireless systems that meet stringent industrial requirements for reliability, low power consumption, and ease of installation.

Dust Networks' Smartmesh-XT family of products consists of motes and managers in both the 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz bands. The 900 MHz products include the M1030 mote and PM1230 embedded manager, and the 2.4 GHz standards-based products - which use IEEE 802.15.4 radios - include the M2135 mote and PM2130 embedded manager.

“Our customers are experiencing growing demand for monitoring and control solutions enabled by wireless mesh networking technology,” says Joy Weiss, CEO of Dust Networks. “With our new standards-based Smartmesh-XT family of products, we are delivering the reliability and low power consumption necessary for the industrial and building automation markets. We have also simplified the design-in process to meet the rapid customer adoption of our technology.”

Smartmesh-XT is optimised for enterprise-class applications in industrial and building settings, and meets the tough specifications for harsh environments found in oil refineries, food processing plants, wastewater facilities, pharmaceutical plants, power plants, and other locations. Features include a rugged design for Class I Division 1 environments, vibration resistance, and an industrial temperature range of -40 to +85 degrees C.

To deliver high reliability and low power consumption, Smartmesh-XT utilises the Time Synchronised Mesh Protocol (TSMP), pioneered by Dust Networks. TSMP, a media access and networking protocol, is designed to ride on top of standard, off-the-shelf radio chips. Every mote in a TSMP-based network acts as a router, enabling simplified network installation and extremely high reliability. As a result, Smartmesh-XT products achieve better than 99.9 per cent reliability in the face of harsh RF environments, and battery-operated motes typically live for more than 5 or 10 years. The key components of TSMP include: frequency hopping; time synchronisation; full-mesh routing; self-healing; self-organising; and security.

“Manufacturers in the process industries require high reliability from wireless measurement systems,” says Harry Forbes, a senior analyst from ARC Advisory Group. “Plant experience with wireless field devices has shown that full mesh network layers like TSMP, though still being standardised, have out-performed other network technologies in terms of reliability and applicability to real-world commercial and industrial applications. The available market for wireless is roughly 60-80 per cent of today's process field devices, and reliable networks like TSMP will make this possible.”

Dust Networks' Smartmesh-XT products reduce development risk and accelerate time-to-market by providing complete networking functionality in proven, self-contained modules that are easy to integrate. Smartmesh-XT includes an embedded manager that allows OEM customers to build differentiated controllers and gateways that take advantage of reliable TSMP-based wireless networking, as well as fully integrated mote modules that can be readily incorporated into remote sensors and field devices. The Smartmesh-XT embedded manager board includes embedded networking software, interfaces to host systems, and advanced algorithms that continually optimise network performance and reliability to accommodate changing RF and environmental conditions. All Smartmesh-XT products can be integrated into industrial equipment or building automation systems providing new revenue streams and new applications for equipment vendors in these markets.

The Smartmesh-XT family of products includes motes that use IEEE 802.15.4 standard radios for the global market in the 2.4 GHz band. Dust Networks is actively working with equipment vendors, end users and industry associations, including the wireless Hart working group of the Hart Communications Foundation and ISA's SP-100, to develop wireless networking standards that meet the requirements of industrial monitoring and control, enabling the widespread adoption of wireless sensor networking technology.

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