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Evaluation of consumer communication technology for industrial applications

From a cost perspective, solutions developed for the consumer market are attractive for industrial applications. However, consumer solutions are usually optimized for certain traffic patterns such as Internet access, online gaming, or video streaming from a central access node (access router) to end devices. Communication between the various nodes and the use of many short data packets, as is common in automation solutions, are usually not considered as relevant requirements.

With the measurement system shown, extended investigations of the «Network under Test» can be carried out. Traffic patterns can be freely defined in order to investigate different functional deployments. Telegrams in the front end are time-stamped and recorded with an accuracy of one microsecond. Cabling the backend as daisy chain allows to use the system in spatially distributed test arrangements.

When investigating powerline technology, it is found that the capacity of the network is mainly limited by the number of packets that can be transmitted per second, rather than the maximum data rate. Depending on the traffic pattern of the application, different parameterizations of the medium access are useful to achieve good overall performance.

A typical example of an evaluation plot shows outliers in the latency. This can be used to determine whether an application can be implemented given the performance of the communication system.