While traditional wired communication technologies have played a crucial role in industrial monitoring and control networks over the past few decades, they are increasingly proving to be inadequate to meet the highly dynamic and stringent demands of today’s industrial applications, primarily due to the very rigid nature of wired infrastructures. Wireless technology, however, through its increased pervasiveness, has the potential to revolutionize the industry, not only by mitigating the problems faced by wired solutions, but also by introducing a completely new class of applications. While present day wireless technologies made some preliminary inroads in the monitoring domain, they still have severe limitations especially when real-time, reliable distributed control operations are concerned. This article provides the reader with an overview of existing wireless technologies commonly used in the monitoring and control industry. It highlights the pros and cons of each technology and assesses the degree to which each technology is able to meet the stringent demands of industrial monitoring and control networks. Additionally, it summarizes mechanisms proposed by academia, especially serving critical applications by addressing the real-time and reliability requirements of industrial process automation. The article also describes certain key research problems from the physical layer communication for sensor networks and the wireless networking perspective that have yet to be addressed to allow the successful use of wireless technologies in industrial monitoring and control networks.
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