Has running a CNC machine wirelessly ever been successfully achieved with a similar error rate that wired machines experience?

This question was posted on www.element-14.com:

Has running a CNC machine wirelessly ever been successfully achieved with a similar error rate that wired machines experience? In other words, wireless with no error in an industrial environment. And I am referring to the connection between the actual CNC equipment and the PCs that drive them.

I have seen this attempted with dismal results. And following the failure, a football field’s length of Ethernet cable was strung to the ceiling. But with Zigbee, Wireless-N, and others, there has to be a decent solution by now?

Pinter Electronics Consultants’ answered:

Chris Pinter answers, “I do not think we will ever see reliably communication via wireless. The reason is because there is so much noise in the environment.  The wireless channel is incredible hostile. There is noise from motors, lights, AC lines running through the wall as well as Wi-Fi, zigbee, cellular telephones, etc.  These same noises affect wired communication as well. However, we are able to control the wire much better.

There are some great techniques used to limit this noise including twisting the wire, wrapping a shield around it, and a ferrite core etc.  In a sense, we are creating an environment to transmit the information by putting a barrier between the noise source and the signal we want to transmit.  We can do this as well with radio waves but it requires the use a waveguide which effectively shields the signal from the noise as it travels from the source to the load.    Unfortunately we cannot apply these same measures to the free space of an office building or machine shop.

I would say that a machine shop would have much more noise than an office environment because of the motors used in the CNC machine.    So you would be best to use wires instead of looking for a wireless solution. At least the Ethernet cable limits the amount of noise affecting the signal.”


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