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Analysis of the Impact of Wireless Mobile Devices in Critical Industrial Applications

Zaloa Fernández


  • DIRECTORS: Mikel Mendicute Errasti and Iñaki Val Beitia
  • UNIVERSITY: Mondragon Unibertsitatea



The main objective of the thesis is to study the impact of mobile nodes in industrial applications with strict reliability and time constraints in both centralized and decentralized topologies. Considering the harsh wireless channel conditions of industrial environments, that goal implies a considerable challenge. In order not to compromise the performance of the system, a deterministic Real-Time (RT) communication protocol is needed, along with a mechanism to deal with changes in the topology due to the movements of the wireless devices.

The existing wireless standard technologies do not satisfy the requirements demanded by the most critical industrial applications such as Distributed Control Systems (DCS) and, thus, wired communication cannot be directly replaced by wireless solutions. Nevertheless, the adoption of wireless communications can be seen as an extension to the existing wired networks to create hybrid networks with mobility requirements. The design of a proper communication solution depends mainly on the choice of the Medium Access Control (MAC) protocol, which is responsible for controlling access to the medium and thereby plays a vital role in decreasing latency and packet errors. Furthermore, the changes in the topology due to the movement of the wireless devices must be managed correctly in order not to affect the performance of the entire network.

In this doctoral thesis, a hybrid centralized architecture designed for industrial applications with strict requirements in terms of robustness, determinism and RT is proposed and evaluated. For that, a wireless RT MAC scheme based on the IEEE 802.11 physical layer is proposed along with a Real-Time Ethernet (RTE) MAC scheme. This hybrid system ensures seamless communication between both media.

With the aim of including mobile devices in the proposed architecture, a soft-handover algorithm is designed and evaluated. This algorithm guarantees an uninterrupted communication during the handover process without the need for a second radio interface and with a reduced growth in network overhead.

Finally, the impact of mobile nodes in a decentralized wireless topology is analysed. For that, the Self-Organizing Time Division Multiple Access (STDMA) protocol is evaluated to analyse its viability as an alternative to carrying out a handover in industrial applications without centralized systems.

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