Wired and Wireless Networks for the Energy Industry

September 14, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

The energy industry is getting a lot of attention these days with more people talking about how we can better harness and use energy. Here, we’ll look at the energy industry and how all sectors, including oil, gas and renewable sources, are using wired and wireless networks to connect their operations.

 

Oil and Gas

 

Offshore oil platforms are exposed to water, salt, vibration and extreme temperatures. Although in many cases the communications equipment used on these rigs are housed in protective enclosures some equipment must be located in exposed areas where they are subject to environmental extremes. This includes IP cameras used for surveillance of the platform, plus the cabling and converters that link back to the central control room on the rig. Wireless sensors and controllers are also located throughout the platform and are linked by outdoor antennas, amplifiers and access points used to operate the rig.

 

In petroleum refineries, wired and wireless sensors are used to monitor and control process applications and provide real-time data that can warn of system issues. Many valves and controllers are linked to a serial or IP network, as well as security and surveillance equipment that are critical to operations.

 

Natural gas pipelines depend on communications networks to monitor the safety and efficiency of the pipeline, which can span hundreds of miles over harsh terrain and in remote areas. These networks allow for real-time data to be sent to the control room that can detect leaks and issues with pressure and temperature. IP based surveillance systems along the pipeline also require network connectivity to provide added protection.

 

Renewable Energy

 

Solar energy networks use wired and wireless connectivity for long distance control and monitoring of solar panel arrays. For example, serial data cables connect to the power meters on the panel, theses power meters are then connected to the Ethernet network via a device server and antennas wirelessly connect the power meters back to the control center for monitoring and control.

 

Hydroelectric power has modernized operations by implementing automated systems in hydroelectric plants. Many of these systems use Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) to control valves, motor starters, sensors and flood gate control systems that are critical to operations. Other systems use wireless networks to monitor and control the plant. Surveillance and security systems are also important in these plants to not only monitor for intruders, but also to visually analyze the dam and plant and watch for structural breakdown.

 

Monitoring wind turbines also requires wired and wireless networks. An industrial Ethernet switch allows signals to be sent to the turbine that change its speed and angle. Fiber optic cables connect the control center to multiple turbines over long distances for complete control of the wind farm and antennas are used to connect the local control center to a main control network.  

 

For more details on how wired and wireless technology is powering the energy industry, and how L-com’s products are being used, download our energy industry overview.

 

5 Things You Need to Know About the Cloud

August 31, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

If you’re like most people, you probably have pictures or some other type of files stored in the cloud, but do you really understand what the cloud is? For many people, the cloud remains a mystical place that they still can’t quite comprehend. Here are 5 things you need to know about the cloud:

 

1.  When something is stored in the cloud, it is actually in a physical place. The cloud is like a giant IT data center, it is a massive infrastructure of thousands of servers that are connected by cables, switches, connectors and patch panels. All of these parts work together to store data, provide virtual desktops, global data access and more.

 

2.  Cloud computing relies on many geographically dispersed servers that provide millions of people with reliable and limitless access to their library of and images, video, audio and data files through the Internet. This frees up local RAM and hard drive space, but it also means that the interconnect components that make up the cloud need to be fast and dependable to keep up with user demand.

 

3.  The consumer cloud is different than a cloud for business. Consumer cloud computing is for those using cloud Internet services casually at home or in small offices. When it comes to business, there are several cloud models being used:

 

-  Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – businesses subscribe to an application that is accessed using the Internet

-  Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) – businesses create their own custom application for everyone in the company      to use

-  Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – the big names in tech (Amazon, Google, Microsoft, etc.) provide a              backbone that can be used or “rented” for use by other companies

 

4.  The cloud is big business and is having a big impact on business. Worldwide public cloud services are anticipated to grow 18% this year to reach $246.8 billion. Cloud computing is also expected to be the most measurable factor impacting businesses in 2017. Cloud platforms allow for more complex business models and coordination of globally integrated networks – more so than many experts predicted. Cloud services are also increasingly being used by small and medium businesses, which is also increasing the revenue forecast.

 

5.  The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow, and with the IoT has come increased use of cloud computing technology. Eventually, IoT devices may become extensions of cloud data centers.  The cloud is a powerful force in the technology industry and a global trend that doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

 

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The Low Down on Low-Loss Coax Cables for Wireless Applications

August 17, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

It may seem counterintuitive that a wireless network would need cables, but it’s true. The components of a wireless network, such as access points, amplifiers and antennas, all need cables to communicate with one another. Antenna cables introduces signal loss in the antenna system for both the transmitter and receiver. In order to reduce this signal loss, you need to either minimize the cable length, if you can, and use only low-loss or ultra-low-loss coax cable s in order to connect access points and amps to antennas.

 

Coaxial cable is one of the oldest signal cabling types and is still used today because it is robust and very good at carrying a signals over long distances. The term coaxial comes from the inner conductor and the outer shield sharing a geometric axis. The term "low-loss" refers to the cable's relative low-attenuation (loss) over distance. The general rule is that the thicker the cable is, the less loss of signal there will be over the length of the cable.

 

RG-style cables were the original standard for coaxial cable, but the signal in these cables degrades over longer distances. This isn’t an issue when covering short distances, but in a wireless application it is critical to maintain the signal strength throughout the cable and until it is sent out through the antenna. Thus, low-loss coaxial cable was created offering lower attenuation and better shielding, a much better solution for wireless systems than RG-style cables. Low-loss coaxial cables also use solid center conductors which provide lower attenuation than the stranded conductors found in some types of RG-style coax cables.

 

Low-loss coaxial cables are ideal for use in WLAN, Cellular, PCS, ISM and many other wireless communications applications. They are offered in multiple sizes with a three-digit “series” number designating the thickness of the cable and the low-loss properties. For example, 400-series low-loss coax is thicker and has less loss than 200-series, and 200-series is thicker and has less loss than 100-series. While the thicker cable will provide less loss, it will also be heavier and less flexible, though ultra-flex versions of the thicker series cables do offer more flexibility.

 

Here is a comparison chart for popular types of low-loss coaxial cables:

Read All About It: PoE White Paper

August 3, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

Power over Ethernet (PoE) is a revolutionary technique that provides both power and data in one Ethernet cable. PoE equipment eliminates the need to run power to remote network devices, which allows for greater flexibility and is ideal for remote locations where traditional power sources are not available. PoE can save time and money and is becoming more frequently used in wired and wireless connectivity applications with network devices such as wireless access points, switches and IP cameras.

 

Our white paper takes a deeper look at PoE, its history and how it is used in today’s telecommunications networks. Topics covered include:

 

History of PoE

  • -          How the IEEE was called upon to create the 802.3af standard to help the growth of the PoE market with a unified standard              to rely on
  • -          Power Sourcing Equipment (PSE)
  • -          Powered Devices (PD)

 

PoE Details and Variations

  • -          Mode A vs. Mode B
  • -          Mode A: Combining power via Phantom Powering
  • -          Mode B: Power over Ethernet spare pairs

 

Click here to read our PoE white paper.

 

All of our free white papers are available from our website by clicking here.

 

Standards Showdown: 802.11 Standards Side-by-Side

July 20, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

The IEEE is almost always working on another new amendment to the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard. We now have nearly as many 802.11 standards as there are letters in the alphabet, and keeping them straight can get confusing. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of all of the 802.11 standards, old and new, for easy reference. 

 

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