Whether in logistics, production environments or maintenance, wireless networking of devices in industrial production settings is becoming more and more interesting to an increasing number of users in the age of »Industrie 4.0«. This eliminates the challenges of complicated and sometimes impossible laying of cable in hard-to-reach areas as well as wear susceptibility issues affecting wire-bound fieldbus or Ethernet systems. Additional incentives to replace cable connections wherever possible include increased mobility and cost savings through more flexible transmission of data, maintenance and production process conversion. Consequentially, proven radio-based systems from the consumer area, especially WLAN, are also already firmly established in »Industrie 4.0« infrastructures today.
However, WLAN is not suitable in all cases to meet the high demands of automation technology for reliability and availability. Data rates as well as communication cycle times are worsening with more users and larger volumes of data transmission, because only a limited bandwidth is available for all content. WLAN quickly reaches its limits particularly at the level of sensors/actuators and control where communication needs between intelligent automation systems are becoming ever more time critical. Many cases require clock synchronization in communication systems with data transmission time cycles of less than one millisecond. In addition, other wireless methods such as Bluetooth applications can cause critical interference as they partially transmit over the same frequency bands resulting in multiple channel assignments and overlapping frequency usage.
These problems do not occur with Fraunhofer IPMS »Li-Fi GigaDock« optical data transmission. »Our GigaDock uses the worldwide regulation-free spectrum of light which does not interfere with radio-based systems,« explains project manager Dr. Alexander Noack. »Achievable bandwidths of up to 12.5 gigabits per second are ten times faster than WLAN wireless solutions. Nevertheless, we have been able to achieve very good real-time characteristics at distances of up to 50 mm with latencies of less than one millisecond. In other words, our technology guarantees data reception at the desired moment.» For longer distances, the institute offers the so-called »Li-Fi Hotspot« which simultaneously transfers data at rates of up to 100 megabits per second to several users over an area of 5 by 5 meters.
Fraunhofer IPMS driverless send/receive modules incorporate an optical transceiver and a protocol controller with a gigabit Ethernet interface and can therefore be easily combined with standard industry systems. The Dresden-based research institute offers customers evaluation kits so that they may test the benefits of Fraunhofer IPMS Li-Fi technology for a wide variety of application fields.
At Electronica (November 8 - 11, in Munich, Stand 113 in Hall 4) as well as SPS IPC Drives (November 22 - 24, 2016 in Stuttgart, Stand 500 in Hall 2) the Fraunhofer IPMS will present its Li-Fi-technology to the public. Those participating in the parallel Wireless Congress are further invited to attend the Session 2 »Technology« at 10:30 a.m. on November 9. In a presentation entitled »Li-Fi Communication for Industrial Real-Time Datalinks«, Dr. Alexander Noack will highlight the advantages of Li-Fi technology in the industrial environment.