Wireless Communication Booming

Don Wiencek, president of B&B Electronics, Ottawa, Ill., insists the economy is booming even in the staid industrial market. "A lot of people are complaining that sales are slow, that [President] Bush messed everything up, and breadlines are getting longer. But we sure aren't seeing it here," says the executive, whose company produces wireless networking products and devices that link 10-, ...

08/01/2004


Don Wiencek, president of B&B Electronics, Ottawa, Ill., insists the economy is booming even in the staid industrial market.

"A lot of people are complaining that sales are slow, that [President] Bush messed everything up, and breadlines are getting longer. But we sure aren't seeing it here," says the executive, whose company produces wireless networking products and devices that link 10-, 15- and 20-year-old equipment to intranets and the Internet. In fact, he reports record sales for four consecutive quarters.

"The manufacturing sector took a huge hit after Sept. 11," admits Wiencek, "But foreign competition means that U.S. and European companies can't stick their heads in the sand. Companies must improve productivity, and that means investment in new communications technology and tools."

A recent study by Natick, Mass.-based Venture Development Corp. bears outs Wiencek's words. According to the researcher, the market for wireless Ethernet infrastructure components and network software for industrial applications totaled $75.1 million in 2003 and is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 34.7%, reaching $183.4 million by 2006. According to VDC's report, the evolution of standards, enhanced security and increased bandwidth has propelled the use of wireless Ethernet into harsh environments. Success in warehouse/distribution applications has carried over into shop floor control environments. Benefits of wireless Ethernet in industrial applications include: mobility —portable operator interfaces having wireless monitoring and control capabilities allow operators, engineers and maintenance personnel to interface with equipment remotely, enhancing operator safety and providing the flexible network architectures desired in plant installations; flexibility —wireless solutions allow easier add-ons, removals and changes to the network; and finally, cost —wireless networks negate the cost of the cable previously needed to connect devices and controllers.

A second area that's booming, according to VDC, is Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology, which the researcher says is fast becoming a standard feature in a wide variety of products. To date, VDC says, primary PoE market drivers have been WLAN access points and VoIP phones. However, based on a comprehensive screening model created by VDC, RFID tag readers are positioned to join these market drivers. In fact, as a next-generation driver, RFID tag readers scored a potential 43 out 45 points in VDC's model with respondents noting the technology's strong installation cost savings, its ability to meet the 802.3af standard.

Furthermore, RFID tag readers with PoE capabilities ought to see increased end-user demand as RFID directives are implemented, says VDC.

On the subject of PoE, Omaha, Neb.-based communications cabling manufacturer SYSTIMAX Solutions has unveiled a new product line in tune with this trend. According to Michelle Metzger, a representative of the company, every device that carries a data transmission has to have two cords—one for data and one for power. But with PoE, she says data devices will need only one cord to connect them to a LAN that can serve as a power supply. She says SYSTIMAX saw this coming and has developed its products with the understanding that the same cables, connectors, outlets and patch panels can accommodate power.

To view the full PoE report, visit www.vdc-corp.com/power/reports/03/-br03-35.html .





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