20 August 2019

IWLAN – The Challenge. Wireless Technology for Industry 4.0.

I am Kilian Loeser, the product manager for Industrial Wireless LAN at Siemens. Recently, I often hear about how “Industries” have only now started embracing wireless technologies. And how these industries have no prior experience and will only slowly get to adopt them in a useful way. In this blog I’d like to take you on a journey back to the starting point of WLAN up to the challenges we are facing today.


WiFi Alliance just celebrated 20 years of WLAN. The first use industrial cases, including overhead monorails, where realized shortly afterwards. What were the reasons for replacing the already existing wired solutions?

They were the same as today, but, from my point of view, there’s a much bigger hype now. Here are the essential factors:

  • higher flexibility
  • saving cabling costs
  • avoiding wear and tear through contactless technology
  • higher data rates
  • still high availability

So let’s dig a little deeper into what challenges we are facing today and will so in the future of production and industry.

Challenges – one size fits all?

With Industry 4.0 and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) seeking for more modular ways to produce and meet consumer requirements wireless technologies like WLAN are getting the next push. The answer to the demands is ever-increasing flexibility and scalability to adjust production capacities within hours.

The requirements between different industries like Food&Beverage, Intralogistics, automotive production, Water&Waste Water et. al. are still diverse and one size does not fit all.

Process Automation World
Process Automation World (Karlsruhe)

One can well imagine the difference regarding the requirements between a highly-available process automation plant (see above) and an ultra modular and highly-flexible car production (see below).

Flexible automotive production

Let me list the main challenges in different process and discrete industry scenarios, as I see them today::

  • Harsh environments (Vibration, RF Spikes, Temperatures)
  • High Availability (Redundancy, one-step-replacement)
  • Defined Low Latency (support of automation protocols, high number of clients)
  • Robust communication (changing surroundings, interferer)
  • Mobile applications (Moving around, spinning and turning)
  • Convenient configuration and maintenance

Upcoming blogs

In this series of posts here at the Siemens Ingenuity blog I want to cover exactly these challenges and explain how they are solved today at Siemens Industry.

  • IWLAN – Automating together (iPCF)
  • IWLAN – Enabling mobile applications (iPCF)
  • IWLAN – Related to interference (WLAN)
  • IWLAN – Building block for IIoT (WLAN)

And my favorite one: A small outlook on how the next level of IWLAN (like WiFi 6) might serve us in the future:

  • IWLAN – Raising the standards (WLAN and iPCF)


For those of you who don’t wan’t to wait till I come by or share this information in my upcoming blogs, here is a very simple recommendation for your applications today:

Get in contact with us to speak about your demands and requirements and how we can contribute to them!

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I am eager to read your feedback and give my best to answer your questions. Stay tuned for the upcoming blogs on the great possibilities of Industrial WLAN! 

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