In 2010, global spending on wireless sensor networking (WSN) chipsets in industrial automation reached $2 M, with the overall market expected to grow to $8 M by 2016, according to ABI Research. Industrial automation consists of two market segments, process automation and factory automation, in which WSN in field devices has seen broader adoption in the former, particularly in the realm of monitoring. Key adoption is seen in monitoring applications, such as oil refineries, petrochemical plants to facilitate plant operation efficiencies, safety prevention, and compliance, alongside asset management.
Two industrial WSN protocols that are based on IEEE 802.15.4 silicon, WirelessHART and ISA100.11a, have been the driving force behind WSN adoption in process automation. WirelessHART, leveraging on an estimated installed base of 30 million HART devices, has the largest addressable market for WSN deployment. This is aided further with its ratification as IEC 62591 in 2010, reassuring end users contemplating the deployment of standardized devices.
"After WirelessHART, a competing industrial WSN protocol, ISA100.11a, which is geared toward interoperability with a multitude of industrial protocols, is next in line to see wide adoption, albeit with a higher growth potential," said Kelvin Chan, Industry Analyst, M2M and Smart Energy.
A third emerging protocol, WIA-PA, which is also based on IEEE 802.15.4 silicon, is undergoing standardization and will become a Chinese national standard.
"Considering China's market size by sheer size, scope, and level of manufacturing, WIA-PA should see significant potential within China, but it is unlikely to extend its reach across the globe without broader standardization efforts and support from manufacturers outside of China," Chan said.
ABI Research's study "Industrial Wireless Sensor Networks" analyzes the market opportunity for WSN in industrial deployments; the implications of the key standards efforts including WirelessHART, ISA-100.11a, and WIA-PA; the implications WSN adoption will have for the market; and the key players involved in making WSN a reality in industrial automation.