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Wireless Sensor Adoption Expected to Grow Tenfold

According to a survey of industrial companies, 40 percent of respondents plan to deploy wireless solutions to monitor machine health.
By Beth Bacheldor
Sep 25, 2007The global market for wireless sensor network (WSN) systems and services is expected to skyrocket to about $4.6 billion in 2011, up from approximately $500 million today, according to a recent report from market research firm ON World. Headquartered in San Diego, Calif., ON World focuses on emerging wireless technologies.

The market size was formulated based on ON World's recent survey of industrial end-user companies. The survey found that one in three companies is currently using wireless sensing and control technologies, and that nearly half intend to investigate or plan wireless solutions over the next 18 months.

As defined by ON World's report, "WSN For Smart Industries," WSN systems and services are two-way wireless communications between active (battery-powered) nodes, or a node and a gateway. One node within the network—either point-to-point, point-to-multipoint or mesh—consists of at least one transceiver, a microcontroller and a sensor that measures a physical stimulus, such as temperature, humidity or light. As with an active RFID tag, each node typically transmits its own unique identifying number.

Industrial companies will contribute a portion of the money spent on WSN systems and services, says Mareca Hatler, director of research at ON World, particularly to monitor machine health and conditions on the factory floor or out in the field. In fact, Hatler notes, 40 percent of survey respondents planning to deploy wireless solutions are targeting machine health.

"The traditional application of condition monitoring is to optimize production and to prevent unplanned failures, which can cost millions of dollars in production downtime," Hatler says. Companies are also adopting machine health monitoring to conduct predictive maintenance, save on equipment costs (by not replacing machines prematurely) and better manage energy usage. "Often, there is a relationship between healthy equipment and energy efficiency, and vice versa."

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